After the Vikings picked John DeFilippo over Kevin Stefanski to be their new offensive coordinator, the team blocked the New York Giants from interviewing (and likely hiring) Stefanski for their own offensive coordinator job.
The move prompted some criticism of the Vikings for denying Stefanski — who’s been with the team since 2006 — a chance to advance. When asked about the decision to block Stefanski from going to the Giants on Thursday morning, Zimmer said, “He’s a good coach,” and added he’ll be part of the process in picking the Vikings’ next quarterback.
Then, Zimmer had plenty more to say.
“Should I start on my pet peeve stuff now?” he said. “I get criticized for blocking guys and stuff like that, but loyalty, to me, is a big thing, right? So I come in here four years ago and the offense is 29, 27th, 26th. But I keep them. So the first time our offense is pretty good, then I’m supposed to let all my coaches leave? I don’t think that’s right. If I’m going to be loyal to them and not fire them after they don’t have good years, then I don’t think they should not be loyal to me.”
The Vikings ordinarily sign their coaches to two-year contracts, and it’s likely Stefanski’s deal is up after next season. At that point, he could get a chance to be a coordinator — or possibly climb the ladder with the Vikings if DeFilippo (who’s already received head coaching interest) gets a chance at a head job with another team.
Asked about the Vikings’ decision on Wednesday, Giants coach Pat Shurmur offered a response that left plenty of room to read between the lines.
“I think Kevin is a tremendous coach and obviously the Vikings feel the same way,” the former Vikings offensive coordinator said. “I think he has a bright future. He’s a good man and the Vikings did a good thing by keeping him — for the Vikings. I’m hopeful they have a great year as well.”
Though the Vikings were ultimately able to interview and hire DeFilippo when the Eagles granted Minnesota permission to talk to him several days before his contract expired in Philadelphia, Zimmer certainly isn’t alone in his approach with his own coaches. The Packers, among other teams, have regularly blocked coaches for interviewing for coordinator jobs with other clubs.
Ultimately, if the Vikings continue to succeed, Stefanski will likely get his shot at a promotion, either in Minnesota or elsewhere. For the time being, his presence on the Vikings’ coaching staff lends some continuity to the scheme, Zimmer said.
“Yeah, to communicate what we did and how we did it,” Zimmer said. “Not only him but [running backs coach] Kennedy [Polamalu] and [wide receivers coach] Darrell Hazell and [offensive line coach]Tony Sparano. All those guys.”