Current coordinator Fred Pagac hasn't officially been given his walking papers, but, in light of the release of defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, it would appear that the aspect of the Vikings organization that is in the control of Leslie Frazier – determining who comprises his coaching staff – is going to change, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Pagac is still technically the Vikings defensive coordinator, but the reality is that he is heading to the gallows at some point soon.
A day after Raheem Morris met with Vikings officials, word got out that not only was Morris in the running, but so are Steve Spagnuolo, Mel Tucker and Mike Singletary. All four of them have something in common – they have been members of the elite head coaching fraternity.
The links between Frazier and Singletary run deep – they were teammates in Chicago and, after being fired as the 49ers head coach, Frazier was quick to snap him up for his linebackers coach when he was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach and Pagac was elevated to the coordinator position. Morris was a Coach of the Year frontrunner a year ago when leading the Buccaneers to a 10-6 record, but was fired after Tampa Bay hit bottom this season (it should be noted that, when the lockout ended, the Bucs had as much as $50 million in available salary cap room and made no significant outside signings). Spagnuolo coached with Frazier in Philadelphia before becoming the defensive coordinator of the Giants and head coach of the Rams the last three seasons. Tucker became the interim head coach in Jacksonville last year when Jack Del Rio was fired on the same day the team was sold.
The interesting part of the equation is what amount input will Frazier have in running the defense in 2012? He and Pagac differed at times, with Frazier taking over play-calling duties during some games – perhaps a trick he learned from his experience with Andy Reid and Brad Childress. Spagnuolo runs a 4-3 defense, but doesn't run the classic Tampa-2 Frazier prefers. Tucker comes from a 3-4 defensive background, which players like Jared Allen have made clear aren't good fits with the personnel the Vikings have.
Morris would seem to be the logical candidate if the Vikings intend to stay with the belief system associated with the Cover-2 defense. If they're looking to become more aggressive and risk-taking, Spagnuolo comes into play. If their plan is to blow everything up and join the AFC bandwagon of 3-4 defenses – which goes against everything that would seem to be in place with coaching staff and personnel – Tucker's your man. If all else fails, Singletary is an in-house candidate who, like the others, has head coaching experience. It doesn't hurt that the defense he helped build is what has the 49ers resting on a bye week waiting for the New Orleans machine to come rolling out West.
It would seem four candidates have emerged for a job in which the current holder of the position hasn't been fired.
Fred Man Walking.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.