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Minnesota Vikings loosely linked to three different head coach candidates

Andrew Buller-Russ

Since firing Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman, the Minnesota Vikings have been doing their due diligence on putting together new leadership candidates. While the Wilf ownership group has been upfront about their desire to hire a general manager who would help make the decision on the organization’s next head coach, some rumored names are already trickling in.

One thing the three names have in common is their skills on the offensive side of the ball. Yet, this doesn’t necessarily mean the team is targeting offensive-minded head coaches, it’s simply a list of rumored candidates. Until the Vikings hire a GM, any reports about their next head coach should be taken with a grain of salt, including this one.

Below, we break down the three initial candidates for the Minnesota Vikings head coach opening.

Minnesota Vikings linked to Doug Pederson

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Doug Pederson has spent the last year out of football after being let go from the Philadelphia Eagles following a 4-11-1 season. In four years at the helm, Pederson went 42-37-1, or a .531 winning percentage. For comparison purposes, Zimmer went 72-56-1, with a .562 winning percentage coaching the Minnesota Vikings.

However, these two coaches are nothing alike. Pederson has a Super Bowl ring as a head coach from 2017 and is seen as a quarterback whisperer, having played the position himself. He’s also known for his emotional intelligence, something Zim likely could take a lesson from. Before firing him, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie praised Pederson’s leadership and communication skills, once again a trait the Vikings mentioned they would seek in their head coaching search.

Earlier this week, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports mentioned Doug Pederson “will end up interviewing” with the Vikings. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen, but from an outsider’s perspective, he appears to meet some of the initial requirements and he certainly has the résumé, he’d be a good fit for the Minnesota Vikings.

Josh McDaniels keeps popping up in Minnesota Vikings head coach rumors

Another interesting name who has popped up thanks to Ian Rapoport mentioning some possible interest is Josh McDaniels from the New England Patriots. While it wasn’t a very memorable experience, McDaniels went 11-17 with the Denver Broncos from 2009-10 with Kyle Orton as his top quarterback. He also briefly agreed to become the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts in 2018 before withdrawing later in the day.

Otherwise, McDaniels has six Super Bowl rings from his time with the Patriots, in which he was the offensive coordinator every year they won the league championship. In total, McDaniels has 14 years of experience as a coordinator, and two years as a head coach and he’s still just 45 years old.

The Patriots’ offense wasn’t pretty last season during Cam Newton‘s struggles, but they’ve gotten back to the playoffs this season behind the sharp play of Mac Jones and a strong multi-faceted rushing attack. McDaniels has had to adapt the offense a few times in the past three years as they’ve had to find other ways to win without Tom Brady. As one of the brightest offensive minds in football, any team would do well to at least gauge the interest of McDaniels in becoming their next head coach.

As long as he’s given a decent quarterback and some weapons in the offense like Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen offer, McDaniels should be able to hit the ground running. Since the Vikings have yet to hire their GM, McDaniels may like the idea of landing in a situation with a fresh starting point where he can start on the same page with the decision-makers from day one.

It’s also important to note, McDaniels doesn’t plan to take any interviews until the Patriots finish their current playoff run. This could end up working in Minnesota’s favor as they continue interviewing general manager candidates.

Is Kellen Moore interested in becoming the next Vikings head coach?

Perhaps the most intriguing name is the one who hasn’t been given a chance to be a head coach yet. Sometimes there is value in the unknown. NFL fans have been clamoring for Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to get a head coaching gig since he first experienced success in 2019 as the team’s play-caller following his playing career.

This past season, Moore called plays for the offense that gained the most yards and scored the most points in the NFL. As every team always seems to be in search of the next bright up-and-coming offensive mind, Moore checks all the boxes.

The 33-year-old coach recently faced NFL defenses himself, where he was tasked with studying film, making adjustments, and reading defenses in an aim to help improve the team’s offensive play. He quickly realized his true value was in coaching, where he’s worked closely with Dak Prescott to help him become an instant star. Moore also happens to have a legendary college career from his time at Boise State.

Basically, if the Vikings want to bring in a coach who can get the most out of Justin Jefferson and the team’s passing attack to fit the current pass-heavy era dominated by young quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen, they should hire Kellen Moore. There’s even a belief that Moore is interested in the Minnesota Vikings. Fans likely hope that feeling is mutual once the interviews get underway.