Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust: The 2009 Minnesota Vikings Coaching Staff
Vikings head coach Brad Childress and the rest of his staff entering this season will most likely stick to the game plan they have carried the past three years: kick your butt, then do it again.
The teams I have known don't like to get cute, they stuff the ball down the throat of the opposing defense with their running game and force opposing offenses to throw the ball on them.
Of course there are exceptions to the cute rule. I have seen various plays in which Chester Taylor gets a hand off and, uh oh, he throws the ball to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe in the end zone for the touchdown.
But don't count on that happening twice a game.
Let me introduce you to the coaching staff the Minnesota Vikings for this upcoming season.
Head Coach Brad Childress
Childress was hired at the Vikings head coach on Jan. 6, 2006 after the team fired Mike Tice after a three-year stint. Before coming to Minnesota, Childress was the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles under current head coach Andy Reid.
There, his main focus was working with and preparing a young quarterback by the name of Donovan McNabb, and that looks like it turned out for the best (Eagles fans might disagree with me).
Since taking over a 2006 team that finished 6-10, Childress has improved the team's record the last two years, winning the NFC North title last year.
This year he has a lot to prove and might need to win a playoff game to keep his job. Owner Zygi Wilf has spent a lot of money on acquisitions the past couple of years and it is Childress' job to put that talent together and win a Super Bowl.
Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell
When Childress was hired, he went right after his friend Darrell Bevell to coordinate the offense. Bevell had been an assistant with the Green Bay Packers from 2000-2005, which included holding the offensive coordinator position.
He worked with quarterback Brett Favre while in Green Bay and ran a solid offense that included running back Ahman Green with wide receivers Javon Walker and Donald Driver.
Bevell is a very conservative play caller who liked to run the ball first with a potent rushing game while concentrating on the timing aspect of the passing game. With Childress in 2006, Bevell brought a west coast offense where the Vikings have liked to control the ball, taking few shots deep.
In 2009, look for more of the same. Pounding the ball with Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor, playing a conservative style of offense.
Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier
In Brad Childress' first season with the Vikings, he had a young coach by the name of Mike Tomlin who he brought in to be the team's defensive coordinator. Tomlin had been the defensive backs coach in Tampa Bay with Monte Kiffin, who was known for the Tampa two defense.
Tomlin did wonders to a previously struggling pass defense and after the 2006 season, was hired as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers and in 2008, won Super Bowl XLIII.
After the hiring away of Tomlin, Childress brought in Colts defensive backs coach Leslie Frazier, who picked up right where Tomlin left off.
Since, Frazier has coordinated a defense that has stopped the run better than anyone (first in rush defense in 2008) and has improved the pass defense from his first year with the team. The Vikings will look to keep stopping the run in 2009 while forcing more turnovers in the secondary.
Special Teams Coordinator Brian Murphy
The Vikings special teams struggled mightily in 2008, breaking a league record for most touchdowns given up on special teams in a season with seven. Last year, Paul Ferraro led the Vikings special teams unit by this off-season was hired to coach the linebackers for the St. Louis Rams in 2009.
Brian Murphy was the assistant to special teams in 2008 and will take over this season after Ferraro's departure. Murphy will bring the same scheme to the mix and hopefully will improve the coverage teams on both kickoffs and punts.
In 2009, Murphy will also get linebacker Heath Farwell back after he missed last season with a torn ligament in his knee that he suffered in the preseason. Farwell had been the the leader of the coverage units and his return will definitely give the Vikings a boost this season.
Running Backs Coach Eric Bieniemy
Probably the most passionate guy on the Vikings coaching staff, Bieniemy has done wonders with youngster Adrian Peterson and veteran Chester Taylor. Peterson was the league's leading rusher in 2009 and Taylor has proven to be a go-to guy on third downs.
Bieniemy was on the Eagles staff in 1999 when Childress was the quarterbacks coach. Previous to that, Bieniemy was an assistant with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Before coming to the Vikings, Bieniemy was an assistant with the University of Colorado from 2001-2002 and with UCLA from 2003-2005 before being hired on to Childress' staff in 2006.
Quarterbacks Coach Kevin Rogers
Rogers has also been with the team since 2006 where since, has been grooming quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Rogers was an assistant with Virginia Tech before coming to Minnesota.
He will be working with both Jackson and new comer Sage Rosenfels this season. They will compete for the starting job in training camp this summer.
Wide Receivers Coach George Stewart
Stewart joined the Vikings in 2007 after working with the Atlanta Falcons from 2003-2006. Most notably, Stewart worked with wide receiver Terrell Owens during his time in San Francisco from 1996-2002.
He brings discipline and hard work to a young group of receivers in 2009 and you can bet he was a happy guy with the addition of Percy Harvin in the first round of this year's draft.
Offensive Line Coach Pat Morris
After the loss of center Matt Birk to the Baltimore Ravens this off-season, Morris will be in charge of helping second-year center John Sullivan ease into the starter's role.
Defensive Line Coach Karl Dunbar
Dunbar joined the staff in 2006 and last year was able to work with three Pro Bowl players in defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams and defensive end Jared Allen.
Dunbar has been a players' coach who always brings enthusiasm to a unique defensive line. Look for more pressure and forced turnovers from this unit in 2009.
Linebackers Coach Fred Pagac
Since his hiring, the Vikings have built a solid group of linebackers that should be intact for the next five years or so. In 2008, the linebacking core was hurt when middle linebacker E.J. Henderson was lost for the season after a toe injury in week four at Tennessee.
However, the Vikings brought in Napolean Harris, who had been with the team in 2005 and 2006. Pagac got him up to speed and Harris was able to make a quick transition and help in the middle of the Vikings defense.
Defensive Backs Coach Joe Woods
Woods came over with Tomlin from Tampa Bay in 2006 and became the Vikings defensive backs coach. After having a poor group of defensive backs, the team has been able to land some nice free agent as well as some key draft picks.
Woods will be in charge of helping second-year safety Tyrell Johnson take over as a starter after veteran Darren Sharper signed with the New Orleans Saints this off-season.
In 2009, expect to see a coaching staff that grooms disciplined players that are all about hard work. This team has the talent to make a serious run at a championship, now it's up to the coaching staff to bring it together.
You might not see too many gadget plays this season, but when the dust cloud disappears, expect to see the Vikings moving the chains.
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