Vikings Look to In-House Candidate for DC Opening


The State of the Vikings: Week 17
Oct 3, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings mascot, Viktor the Viking, leads the team onto field before the game against the Cleveland Browns at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

So far, we’ve known that the Vikings have at least 3 candidates to be the defensive coordinator. Brian Flores, Ryan Nielsen, and Sean Desai are those men. According to Ben Goessling, we should be adding a 4th name to the list: current assistant head coach Mike Pettine.

Take a look at the tweet:

For some, Pettine will be an uninspiring option. He was in the building last season when Minnesota’s defense finished 28th in points against and 31st in yards allowed. True, he wasn’t the main architect and nor was he the playcaller, but he was still someone with tremendous influence.

Nevertheless, he’s someone Kevin O’Connell clearly trusts and respects. If that wasn’t the case, Pettine wouldn’t be this team’s assistant head coach.

Aug 24, 2020; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is shown Monday, August 24, 2020 during the team’s training camp in Green Bay, Wis. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK

The 56-year-old coach was Cleveland’s HC from 2014-2015, putting together a 10-22 record in that time. Otherwise, he has been a DC for the Jets, Bills, and Packers. Take a peak at the basic defensive results for his three seasons at the helm as the Packers’ defensive coordinator:

  • 2018: 25.0 points against per game, 22nd in the NFL
  • 2019: 19.6 points against per game, 9th in the NFL
  • 2020: 23.1 points against per game, 13th in the NFL

Adding to Pettine’s appeal is that he already has a strong understanding of the roster. His understanding of the system that was run last season – complete with its vocabulary and minor nuances – might allow him to hit the ground running in a way that other defensive coordinator candidates simply can’t.

Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins (18) makes a catch for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings during the first quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into 2023, the Vikings need to make it a priority to make a major improvement on defense. Seeing Daniel Jones’ Giants put up 31 points (at U.S. Bank Stadium) before putting up a measly 7 against the Eagles in RD2 of the playoffs is remarkably frustrating and disheartening. Put simply, Minnesota can’t expect to even be a playoff team next year if there isn’t a good step forward for the defense.

Updates about the Vikings’ past, present, and future coaches has been a regular part of the recent rounds of news. Until the DC spot is finally handed over to someone, Vikings fans will remain on the edge of their seat. Minnesota’s fans know what it’s like to watch excellent defense. For the past three seasons, it simply hasn’t been present.

Once the Vikings defensive coordinator is in place, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Kevin O’Connell, and the DC will continue with the difficult work of pruning the roster. Several starters from last season’s group will likely be playing in a different uniform in 2023 because of the salary cap crunch.

Stay tuned. We’ll have you covered as more updates emerge.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this piece.


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