Minnesota Vikings 2012: Time for Vikings to Go Outside the Box
Conventional wisdom in the NFL is, "Whoever just got fired, let's go hire him."
Why do you think the guy got fired in the first place? Perhaps that is more cynicism than substance, but it tells me the NFL is an industry stuck in neutral when it comes to coaches.
I am not so worried about the Vikings filling the DC position today or even tomorrow before heading to Alabama to coach the Senior Bowl, as long as they take a long, rational look at candidates and not hire the first one who was let go somewhere else, or one who has supposedly "paid his dues."
Unfortunately, the NFL is like Washington. They like to fill vacant positions with friends, and cronyism runs rampant. I think it's time for the Vikings to go way outside the box and take some chances on some college defensive coordinator.
Why do we have to re-sole old boots (coaches)? Even though there have been a lot of DC changes in college, it does not mean the Vikings should not consider chasing some down to interview.
The Vikings need to look at someone who is creative and can think outside the box. Is it any surprise that Dom Capers and Greg Williams are struggling anymore? It's because they are spent.
Sure, they may change teams and make a change here or there, but it's just the same old, same old. The NFL coaching fraternity is almost laughable.
Sometimes a fired head coach turned DC works—guys like Wade Phillips, Mike Nolan or Romeo Crennel. But like free enterprise and competitive markets, it's time to look beyond the horizon of conventional, because conventional without vision promotes complacency.
This article simply explores the plausibility of bringing in a college coach. Some of the names mentioned are not going anywhere, but it is designed to create a conversation.
The following slides will take a look at some college DC's the Vikings should consider picking up the phone and calling.
What Is the Vikings' Defensive Philosophy?
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If you ever have the chance to look or read up on some of the great coaches in any sport, you will always discover there was a philosophy of structure, approach, planning and scope to their coaching.
I am curious to know the Vikings' philosophy when it comes to the defense.
With all due respect to Fred Pagac, he said he wanted to create a more aggressive, blitzing-style defense, but when all the injuries occurred to the defensive backfield started happening, his plan was shot to you know where.
Here is what that tells me. The man has no military background. It's called contingency. Overcome, adapt.
Hell, didn't he watch Heartbreak Ridge? I say that in jest, and no, military background is not required to be a coach in the NFL, but you would think it would be, given how the players talk about the "battlefield" or "hostile territory."
Once the Vikings discover their defensive philosophy, then perhaps they can focus in on whom they want. That takes time, and that is why I repeat, if the Vikings rush to judgment because of public pressure, there is a high chance they may regret it and the media gets exactly what it wants—a story.
We are not privy to the inside conversations of upper management, so in essence, we can speculate all we want. The bottom line for Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman is that it has to be about their intent for this Vikings defense.
Is it going to be a relentless one that is capable of making, as well as giving up, big plays? Or will it be one that is the so-called 20-20 defense that tightens its belt in the red zone?
Only time will tell, but if they simply hire the next fired guy, or someone who blows smoke like a Cuban cigar, then like the wind they will get blown out of town.
The next few slides point out a few individuals who could make the transition to DC for the Vikings.
Pat Narduzzi: Michigan State
Some of you already know about Pat Narduzzi, and perhaps placing his name here is somewhat moot given that the Spartans retained Narduzzi as their DC.
Narduzzi was highly pursued by Texas A&M, and Michigan State was smart enough to, as Deion says, "pay the man."
I mention Narduzzi for this simple fact: He constantly puts a stout defense on the field.
Last year, the Spartan defense was ranked fifth nationally and ninth in points. Also, consider the type of football that is played in the Big Ten—balanced attacks of run and pass, for the most part.
He is only 45 and has been a DC in some capacity since 2003. So the experience is there.
Again, Narduzzi is staying at Michigan State, but this is exactly the idea I am proposing.
It's not like we are looking to the college ranks to find our head coach, because that is a much more difficult transition, but as a coordinator, it might not be such a bad idea.
Brent Venables: Oklahoma
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Venables has been a DC for the Sooners since 2004.
He also has experience as co-DC and linebackers coach, and overall has been with the Sooners since 1999.
Also, with the return of Mike Stoops (coach Bob Stoops' brother) to Oklahoma, this would be a ripe moment to pluck someone who now has to share the position as co-defensive coordinator.
Venables brings an enthusiastic, playmaking style of defense. And despite a down year for the OU defense—mostly due to three games against Texas Tech, Baylor, and Oklahoma State—OU's defense constantly ranks high.
I was thinking about deleting this slide, but I already had this write up to be included, so I decided to keep it. Just a few hours ago, I saw that Venables accepted the DC job at Clemson.
Despite that news, it still underscores the reputation and potential of Venables as a DC.
John Chavis: LSU
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There's not much doubt that defensive coordinators in the SEC have their work cut out for them.
Every year, college fans argue over which conference is the best in college football, and the SEC is usually at the heart of those heated debates.
Many times, it's the defenses in the SEC that most talk about.
For John Chavis, it is a challenge week in and week out to game plan against some of the nation's most dynamic playmakers.
The former DC for Tennessee from 1995-2008, Chavis coached one of the more disciplined, well schooled defenses in the SEC. In 2009, he moved to LSU to take over their defense, and he has put together a defense that has produced multiple draft choices and recently played for the National Championship.
True, the LSU defense did not play as well as it should in that BCS game, and perhaps some of the blame goes to Chavis, but I think more of the blame goes to the offensive game plan for being completely unoriginal—but that is another discussion.
Chavis is 55, and his whole coaching career has been in college, but he certainly has the experience and should be given a serious consideration for NFL teams.
Tom Bradley: Penn State
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Hang on, hang on, before you jump all over me for this selection, hear me out.
Tom Bradley's Penn State defenses have always played pretty solid despite average offenses over the last few years.
Bradley began his coaching career with the Nittany Lions in 1979 as a graduate assistant (GA) and then became defensive coordinator after what's-his-name retired. No need to mention his name here.
The Nittany Lions defense ranked No. 20 overall in the FBS, but anybody that knows Penn State defense knows about the consistency of the front seven for the most part.
During Bradley's tenure as DC, various defensive linemen as well as linebackers have found a home in the NFL and are productive players.
I say again, take away Penn State's current problems and examine the great coach that Tom Bradley was for that school. His defenses were disciplined and solid, and I firmly believe that he would be a good DC in the NFL.
Tom Bradley will wind up somewhere, most likely another college, and that school will be very happy with the 55-year-old coach.
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Most likely, the Vikings will hire someone as their DC within the next few days, or at the very least, the next week.
It's okay if the Vikings go to the Senior Bowl without a DC, after all, Frazier was one himself, and he can adequately evaluate from that standpoint.
Nonetheless, the Vikings will undoubtedly hire "the man they were seeking all along" as they will put it, but only time will tell if they made the right choice.
There is no doubt that Spielman and Frazier must be on the same page when it comes to moving this team forward. I do not like to see the carousel that is the Vikings coaching staff these recent years.
Is there talent in the NFL to find the next DC? Absolutely, and I would have loved to have seen Mel Tucker as our DC.
By the way, where in the world is Jack Del Rio in this conversation? Two weeks ago when the season ended, Del Rio's was one of the first names I mentioned, and yet not a peep.
And so it goes, the search continues. Let us hope the Vikings make a wise decision and don't settle for the standard, and to me that would be Mike Singletary.
If the Vikings do in fact hire Singletary as their DC, it tells me that none of the other candidates accepted the offer and the Vikings were left with no alternative.
I hope that is not the case, but we'll see. I welcome your constructive insight and comments.