Mike Zimmer continues to fill out his coaching staff and went back to his experience in the AFC North to fill the vacancy at running backs coach by hiring Kirby Wilson, who spent the last seven seasons as running backs coach under Mike Tomlin.
Wilson brings a wealth of NFL experience with him, having served as running backs coach for New England (1997-99), Washington (2000), Tampa Bay (2002-03), Arizona (2004-06) and Pittsburgh (2007-13).
Wilson has had a history of success wherever he has coached. In New England, he helped the Patriots make the transition after Pro Bowl RB Curtis Martin left the team. In his season in Washington, running back Stephen Davis had one of the most prolific seasons of his career. In Tampa Bay, he won a Super Bowl while mixing and matching running backs. In Pittsburgh, he helped in the transition after Jerome Bettis retired and helped develop Rashard Mendenhall and, after Mendenhall left via free agency, helped rookie Le'Veon Bell turn into a budding star. Despite missing the early part of the 2013 season, Bell ended up breaking Franco Harris' longstanding rookie record for yards from scrimmage.
On Friday, Wilson interviewed for the vacant offensive coordinator position with the Baltimore Ravens, but the team has narrowed its list down to in-house receivers coach Jim Hostler and recently-fired Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
Wilson was also in the running for the Steelers offensive coordinator position in 2012 when Bruce Arians left the organization to join the Indianapolis coaching staff. The job ultimately went to for Cardinals head coach Todd Haley.
The fact that Wilson is still coaching is something of a minor miracle. Two years ago as his Steelers were preparing to face the Denver Broncos in the playoffs, his home caught on fire and Wilson suffered second- and third-degree burns over half his body. He had to be air-lifted to a nearby hospital and was placed into a medically-induced coma as he underwent multiple surgeries and procedures. He made a full recovery and was back with the Steelers when the 2012 training camp opened.
Wilson has a long history of developing talent, but has never coached a running back with the dominating ability of Adrian Peterson. He comes to the Vikings as the third running backs coach in the last four seasons, replacing James Saxon – who got the job when Eric Bienemy left the Vikings in 2011 to become the head coach at the University of Colorado.
While Zimmer is new to the head coaching position, he continues to surround himself with coaches that have a wealth of experience. Wilson fits that mold and looks to be a very solid addition to the new-look Vikings coaching staff.
Vikings hire Wilson as new RB coach
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