The Minnesota Vikings need Bill Parcells. Well, maybe not. But they do need someone who commands respect like Parcells does. He may not be liked by everyone of his players and in fact they may hate him, but one thing always rings true with Parcells and that is players respect him.
He runs a tight ship instead of a sinking one, like Brad Childress has been accustomed to this season. Childress tried to channel his inner Parcells this year and it failed miserably. Calling out your future Hall of Fame quarterback after an emotional loss is no way to gain the respect of your players.
Childress wanted to show who was boss this time around after last season Brett Favre seemed to have more control than Chilly would have liked. Instead of embracing Favre, stroking his ego, and taking input from him, Childress shut him out to show he was the one calling the shots.
While Childress stood up to Favre and Randy Moss, he lost credibility in the locker room, which forced owner Zygi Wilf to make a coaching change—promoting defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier to head coach and giving Childress the axe.
Frazier is respected in the Vikings locker room and around the NFL. We will see whether or not the team responds to him on the field. If they don't, Wilf will need to bring in a guy with credibility.
Parcells would be a great fit for any team that needs a kick in the butt. It's just a matter of whether he wants to return to the sidelines and endure the cold Minnesota winters.
Outside of Parcells, here are nine other candidates that could turn the franchise around (Tony Dungy would have been a viable candidate, but he has already reportedly said no).
When Fox first became the Carolina Panthers head coach, he inherited a 1-15 team that was in chaos. His first year he finished 7-9, and in his second season with the Panthers he brought them to the Super Bowl. What makes Fox a great candidate for the Vikings is his no nonsense approach.
Despite a 1-9 record there hasn't been a whisper from a player speaking out against him. He commands the respect of a locker room and the style of football his teams play are hard-nosed, something the Vikings would benefit from.
Fox's contract runs up with the Panthers after this season and both sides will gladly separate. If he came to Minnesota he could take over a team that has talent in key positions, but also has a number of free agents so he would have the ability to quickly shape the team how he wants.
When the Panthers made the Super Bowl, they did so with a bend-but-don't-break defense, pounding the ball with Stephen Davis, and with Jake Delhomme behind center. Adrian Peterson is extremely more talented than Davis ever was, and if Fox could get it done with Delhomme who's to say he couldn't win with Tarvaris Jackson?
Fox is a good coach who isn't as high profile as the others and wouldn't scoff at an offer from the Vikings.
Edwards is a motivator and would be a breath of fresh air for a Vikings organization that desperately needs one. Whether or not Edwards is willing to leave his comfortable position at ESPN for the job is tough to gauge. Being an NFL head coach is a high stress job, Edwards may not be up for taking over a team that doesn't have a long-term QB and a team that has an aging defense.
While Edwards' career record of 54-74 is far from intriguing he has coached some poor teams in the past. A better way of gauging his career would be that he's had four winning seasons and four losing ones. Eventually Edwards will step out from his comfy analyst job and take on the challenge of coaching again.
If that's with the Vikings or with another team will be found out in the offseason.
In 12 seasons as a head coach Gruden's teams have finished with a .500 record or better in eight of them. What that says about Gruden is his teams are always going to be competitive. What it also means is that there are going to be a number of teams that want to hire him.
Gruden is known for his intense personality—if you just know him as a Monday Night Football announcer you won't believe me—and for his vulgar mouth on the sidelines. The Vikings could use Gruden's fiery approach to wake up a franchise that has completely fallen off the map a year after almost making the Super Bowl.
Like Edwards, Gruden would have to want to leave MNF in order to coach again. As a fan of the NFL, it would benefit all of us to see Gruden on the sidelines again, and if it's as the Vikings coach it would be a step in the right direction for the franchise.
Looking to turn your franchise around and get back on a winning track? Spend whatever it takes to bring in this man. Cowher is a winner. In his 15 seasons as Pittsburgh's coach he went 149-90-1. Detractors of Cowher would point to his struggles in the postseason, but he did finally get over the hump and win a Super Bowl in his second to last year.
If Minnesota landed Cowher they would be bringing an excitement to the franchise and a proven winner. Cowher is revered around the NFL and will be highly sought after. Like Gruden, if he decides to return to coaching, he will have his choice of where he wants to go.
The Vikings would love for that to be Minnesota.
The Standford Cardinals have returned to prominence this season with Harbaugh leading the way. If the Vikings decide to go away from coaches that have already had success at the NFL level and are looking for the next great coach, Harbaugh is a great choice.
His brother, John, has had success with Baltimore and he brings a similar demeanor to the table. He may not command the respect of a Cowher or Gruden, but he would be a much cheaper option and is more likely to accept the position.
If the Vikings are looking to blow things up and rebuild, Harbaugh should be brought into consideration.
If the Vikings believe in second chances, Williams may be their guy. He's regarded as having one of the brightest defensive minds in the game, and has had success as a coordinator.
In three seasons with Buffalo, he compiled a 17-31 record, but it's not like the Bills have had success after he's left. The problem in Buffalo has been and was the organization as a whole, not Williams.
Williams may be a tough sell to fans because of his record and inability to turn the Bills around. He has turned around the New Orleans defense, something he could possibly do to the Vikings defense if he was given the job.
Just as players improve as they mature and get older, so do coaches. So who's to say Williams wouldn't be better the second time around?
Rex Ryan has brought his bravado to the New York Jets and turned them into a very good football team. Maybe his brother Rob is ready to step up and become a head coach. Ryan's had success remaking the Cleveland defense and his name is starting to be mentioned among coordinators who could be head coach candidates.
He would also be a cheap replacement for the Vikings, who still owe a hefty sum of money to Childress. We haven't seen much of Rob, but something tells me he has swagger like his brother does and that's something the Vikings need. Probably not the most likely candidate to get the job, but definitely worth interviewing if you're the Vikings.
Schottenheimer was a candidate for the Jets job when Eric Mangini was fired, but lost out to Rex Ryan. His name has been floated around for job openings in the past, although he took his name out of the running when Buffalo and Miami were looking for coaches in previous years.
It appears that Schottenheimer is comfortable in New York, and is fine with sitting and waiting around waiting for the right position to open up instead of taking whoever will hire him. Schottenheimer has done wonders with Mark Sanchez in the time they've been together—something that will certainly bolster his resume.
With Minnesota looking like they'll land a top 10 pick right now in a draft that is full of promising QB's Schottenheimer seems like a good fit. He would get a chance to pick a future franchise QB and groom him over the years.
If the Vikings job opens up, this is a name that will be floated around.
Mularkey is the second former Bills head coach on this list who failed to achieve any success in Buffalo. Once again that says more about the organization as a whole than it does about Mularkey and Williams. Mularkey is currently the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons and under his watch the Falcons have boasted one of the best rushing attacks.
What makes Mularkey a good choice for Minnesota is the fact that he played for the Vikings in the 1980's for six seasons. He could have a leg up in the running, having already been a part of the franchise, and it would increase his popularity among fans.
It's only a matter of time before he is given another job by a team, and the Vikings would be wise to give him consideration.
It all depends on what direction the Vikings want to go. If they want to blow it up and rebuild, they're much better off bringing in a highly touted younger coach that would be cost effective. If they want to try and turn things around quickly, they're better off trying to lure Cowher or Gruden out of the booth to establish instant credibility.
My personal pick would be Fox. Give him AP and a defense that still has Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, and some other key pieces along with a high draft pick, and he'll have the Vikings in the playoffs within two years.
Fox falls in the middle between a highly established coach, like Cowher, and some of the younger coordinators on this list. He wouldn't command top dollar, but he wouldn't exactly be free either.