The Vikings are getting closer to playing football. Training camp ramps up this week with the start of full practices, which can begin Wednesday. Until then, we’ll preview the key points at each position every day. Practices in full pads start Aug. 17.
Head coach: Mike Zimmer
Coordinators: Gary Kubiak (offense), Andre Patterson/Adam Zimmer (defense), Marwaan Malouf (special teams)
Offensive position coaches: Klint Kubiak (quarterbacks), Kennedy Polamalu (running backs), Andrew Janocko (wide receivers), Rick Dennison (offensive line/run game coordinator), Phil Rauchser (assistant offensive line), Brian Pariani (tight ends), Christian Jones (offensive quality control), AC Patterson (offensive quality control)
Defensive position coaches: Dom Capers (senior defensive assistant), Patterson (defensive line), Adam Zimmer (linebackers), Daronte Jones (defensive backs), Imarjaye Albury (assistant defensive line), Nick Rallis (defensive quality control/assistant linebackers), Roy Anderson (assistant defensive backs)
Special teams assistants: Ryan Ficken, Nate Kaeding (kicking consultant)
Strength and conditioning: Mark Uyeyama (director of competition development), Derik Keyes (assistant strength and conditioning), Chaz Mahle (assistant strength and conditioning)
In: Kubiak (named offensive coordinator), Janocko (shifted from assistant OL to wide receivers), Rauscher, Capers, Jones, Albury, Anderson
Out: Kevin Stefanski (became Browns’ head coach), Drew Petzing (became Browns’ tight ends coach), George Edwards (became Cowboys’ senior defensive assistant), Jerry Gray (became Packers’ DB coach), Robert Rodriguez (became Arizona State DL coach) Jeff Howard (became Browns’ passing game coordinator/DB coach)
After co-owner Mark Wilf released a statement supporting Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman before the team’s playoff game against the Saints in January, the Vikings didn’t finalize three-year extensions for their head coach and general manager until the eve of training camp. But the team’s commitment to its current direction never seemed in doubt, not with Zimmer quickly giving Gary Kubiak play-calling duties in January after the Browns hired Stefanski and choosing his son Adam and Patterson (his longtime assistant and confidant) to split coordinator duties after the Vikings parted ways with George Edwards.
Zimmer (who turned 64 in June) is the fourth-oldest head coach in the NFL, but just the second-oldest on his staff after the team added Capers in an advisory role similar to the one Kubiak played last season. The Vikings quickly turned play-calling duties over to Kubiak, out of a desire to maintain their current offensive structure after Stefanski’s departure. As they try to make back-to-back playoff trips for the first time in Zimmer’s tenure, their offense has more stability than a defense trying to indoctrinate young players during a truncated training camp.
The head coach has said the Vikings will implement some live tackling once players can practice in pads on Aug. 17. He’s made frequent use of game-like situational drills in recent years, trying to put players through scenarios they’ll see on Sundays in the fall. With young corners like first-round pick Jeff Gladney and third-rounder Cameron Dantzler possibly in line to play big roles for the Vikings this fall, Zimmer could rely on the drills to help his defenders make up for the preseason game action they won’t get this month.
Patterson and Adam Zimmer will continue to work with their position groups while taking on their new roles in defensive game-planning. Zimmer has called the Vikings’ defensive plays in games since he became head coach, though he’s mused at times about giving up those duties. On the defensive line, Patterson will have to rework the Vikings’ tackle rotation after Michael Pierce opted out for the 2020 season; he’s said he likes the Vikings’ group of young players like Jaleel Johnson and Armon Watts, and he’ll use training camp to assess options alongside Shamar Stephen while trying to help Ifeadi Odenigbo continue his emergence at defensive end.
Kubiak hinted the Vikings would opt for continuity on their offensive line last week, pointing out the team returns four of its five starters from last season. If Pat Elflein is indeed set to start again at guard, the Vikings will need to find one more guard for their zone blocking scheme, while Janocko works to sort out the wide receiver group behind Adam Thielen.
3: Number of coaches on the Vikings’ staff who have been head coaches in the NFL. In addition to Zimmer, Kubiak spent eight years as the Texans’ head coach and won a Super Bowl with the Broncos in 2015. Capers was the first head coach for both the Panthers (in 1995) and the Texans (in 2002), before Kubiak replaced him in 2006.