It’s been an interesting week for a pair of former Minnesota Vikings coaches, as one finds himself surprisingly shown the door and another takes a step closer to becoming one of the elite 32 members of the head coaches club.
Earlier this week, after being eliminated from the playoffs, former Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was let go by Jack Del Rio and the Oakland Raiders, much to the surprise of outsiders looking in.
In what had many of the same fingerprints that saw a change of power at the top of the Vikings offense, Musgrave had a winning record when he parted ways with the Raiders and there was an in-house candidate ready and willing to replace him.
Musgrave’s contract was up and he was told it wouldn’t be renewed, despite being credited with running an offense that saw the maturation of quarterback Derek Carr and a 12-4 record that, if not for a late-season injury to Carr, could have seen the Raiders preparing for a game this weekend coming off their bye week.
Instead, Musgrave is out and quarterbacks coach Todd Downing, who was also with the Vikings from 2003-05, was promoted.
In an interesting move, despite having the 26th-ranked defense (as opposed to their sixth-rated offense), defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. was retained on Del Rio’s staff.
The move comes as something of a surprise since Musgrave and Del Rio had a history together. When Del Rio got his first head coaching job, Musgrave was his offensive coordinator. In the interim, Muskie coached in Washington, Atlanta, Minnesota and Philadelphia before being reunited with Del Rio in Oakland. Given the offensive success the Raiders had, Musgrave didn’t appear to be a candidate for the chopping block, but, when the time came, he was shown the door.
There were some signs of Del Rio’s displeasure with Musgrave’s play-calling after Carr went down, criticizing the calls in the Week 14 loss at Kansas City, claiming the Raiders didn’t play “Big Boy Ball” against the Chiefs. Del Rio considered calling a timeout to overrule a third-and-1 call late in the in a game that could have all but locked up the division title. He again appeared to lay blame Musgrave’s way in Oakland’s Week 17 loss to Denver, questioning how lead running back Latavius Murray could have just five carries in a critical game.
Musgrave isn’t sitting idly by, however. Both he and former San Diego head coach Mike McCoy interviewed for the vacant Denver Broncos offensive coordinator job. McCoy will reportedly get that job.
Another former Vikings coach leaving an organization did so Thursday, but for all the right reasons, not the wrong ones.
Former Vikings defensive coordinator and head coach Leslie Frazier was named defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills, joining new head coach Sean McDermott’s staff.
Frazier, who was the defensive backs coach for the Ravens, worked with McDermott from 1999-2002 when Frazier was the Eagles defensive backs coach and McDermott was working on Philadelphia’s scouting staff.
At a time when coaches are being hired and fired, two coaches that had a significant impact on the Vikings offense and defense in the pre-Mike Zimmer era are both on the move – one for all the right reasons and one for the wrong reasons.