Notebook: Waiting hurting Vikings' next hire?

The Vikings are taking a "thorough" approach in hiring their next head coach. But waiting might have already eliminated one potential coordinator candidate for the Vikings and could eliminate more candidates as assistants. Plus, a couple former Vikings were re-signed in Tampa, and what's the over-under on Johnny Manziel's draft positioning?

The Minnesota Vikings aren't in a rush to fill their vacancy at head coach.

They've done that in the past, hiring Brad Childress before he had a chance to skip town and interview for the Green Bay Packers job back in 2006, when Mike McCarthy was hired. Since McCarthy took over in Green Bay, the Vikings have been through Childress and Leslie Frazier as head coaches – Childress interviewing and signing before his next interview and Frazier hired first on an interim basis to replace Childress and then on a full-time basis.

This time, with general manager Rick Spielman taking the lead in interviewing, he promised a "thorough" search and has delivered with at least five interviews, in addition to one that was scheduled for Thursday before the Washington Redskins hired former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and several other inquiries that aren't believed to have produced interviews yet.

On the list of those interviewed were both coordinators with the Seattle Seahawks, Darrell Bevell on offense and Dan Quinn on defense, Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton and Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

But with patience can come complications. The Vikings already missed out on Gruden, who had a connection to the Redskins with general manager Bruce Allen, who worked with Gruden's brother, Jon, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the Vikings not making their decision before Gruden was hired could have a trickle-down effect.

Zimmer is believed to be one of the Vikings' top targets, according to ESPN, and if he was hired before Gruden got the job with the Redskins, he was expected to target Hue Jackson as his offensive coordinator. Instead, with Gruden leaving Cincinnati, the Bengals quickly promoted Jackson as their offensive coordinator.

If Zimmer is named the head coach of the Vikings, the timing of that hire could be crucial to the defensive side of his staff, too. Both Zimmer and Gruden were reportedly interested in Bengals linebackers coach Paul Guenther as a potential defensive coordinator, but Gruden is now expected to keep Jim Haslett as the Redskins' defensive coordinator. That means Zimmer might be able to lure Guenther away if Zimmer finds a head coaching job soon.

Guenther has been with the Bengals for nine years, two as the linebackers coach. Guenther was involved in helping develop undrafted linebacker Vontaze Burfict, the Bengals' and NFL's leading tackler in 2013.

Guenther worked closely with Zimmer to coordinate the defense on passing downs, according to the Bengals website, and has also worked with special teams.

"I like working with Zim because he's so aggressive and likes to be on the cutting edge," Guenther said, according to "It's important to understand the whole concept. What kind of routes they are running against the pressures, what are the protection schemes against the pressures we run? Get the players to understand the big picture."

Guenther was an offensive assistant with the Redskins in 2002-03, working mostly with running backs. From 1997-2000, he was the head coach Ursinus College (Division III) in Collegeville, Pa., where, at 25, he was the youngest head coach in college football that year. His team made the playoffs in 1999 and 2000 and had a 10-win season in 1999, the most in school history.

The Vikings may not want to rush the process, but the longer they wait the longer the potential assistant coaches have to sign with other teams.

It also means it will be longer wait for the Vikings' assistants still under contract to find out their fate, and if they aren't retained their potential landing spots may have been filled already.


Leslie Frazier, hired as defensive coordinator in Tampa Bay, had some of his staff set by new head coach Lovie Smith, including defensive line coach Joe Cullen and safeties coach Mikal Smith. The Bucs haven't hired a linebackers coach or cornerbacks/secondary coach yet.

All of the Vikings' assistants from 2013 remain under contract for 2014 and Spielman said they would have to request permission to interview elsewhere, and those requests would be considered on a case-by-case basis. The Vikings already reportedly denied permission for the Falcons to talk with offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, and Atlanta then hired former Vikings coach head coach Mike Tice to coach the offensive line there.


The Bucs also re-signed a couple of former Vikings players.

DT Everett Dawkins, a 2013 seventh-round pick of the Vikings, was signed to a futures contract with the Bucs, as was CB Bobby Felder, who spent the 2012 season on the Vikings practice squad. Felder was hurt in the 2013 preseason and placed on injured reserve. However, after seven weeks on injured reserve he reached an injury settlement with the Vikings and was claimed off waivers in October by the Bucs.


With the Vikings expected to consider a quarterback in the early rounds of May's draft, one of the natural connections being drawn is to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who declared himself eligible for the draft this week.

How high will Manziel go? The gambling site set the over-under draft position for Manziel at 4½ overall. The Vikings hold the eighth draft spot.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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