The exact direction of the 2006 Vikings isn't determined yet, but the team is trying to move swiftly in the great NFL head-coaching grab as they search for a replacement for Mike Tice.
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf confirmed Monday that he signed vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski to a three-year extension, avoiding having the salary cap guru talk to other teams interested in his talents – the Cleveland Browns were reportedly one of those interested teams.
The Vikings are also thought to be interviewing Philadelphia's Tom Heckert, the Eagles' vice president of player personnel, either today or Tuesday in an effort to place a football personnel decision-maker next to Brzezinski. The team also interviewed Scott Studwell and Jeff Robinson, currently in the franchise's personnel department, for that position as well.
The Vikings will want to move quickly on that hire. Wilf said that general manager-type of person would be a strong candidate to have the final decision on the hiring of the next head coach. If the Vikings are interested in candidates currently with the top four seeds in the NFL playoffs, they would need to interview those coaches this week while their current team is having a bye week or wait until their teams were eliminated from the playoffs.
Players gave their insights into what type of coach would be good for the team.
"For this team? A disciplinarian, a guy that will come in here and enforce the rules, bring in a good offensive coordinator and work with the young guys, because we do have a pretty young team – try to keep guys focused," cornerback Antoine Winfield said.
Told a reporter has never heard a player ask for a disciplinarian as a head coach, Winfield said: "Around here, that's pretty much what we need. Like I said, someone who can enforce the rules and I don't think that's been done lately."
Linebacker Keith Newman wasn't so sure people should be so quick to blame Tice for the off-the-field troubles the Vikings experienced in 2005.
"I think Coach Tice was like that at times, but I just think some players got too comfortable with him and started to take him for granted," Newman said.
"I think Coach Tice had the respect of the team. … One thing I think the Minnesota town, the Minneapolis city – they don't respect coaches. You've got a guy like Flip Saunders, they got tired of him and now Detroit has the best record in the (NBA). You had a guy like Denny Green and they got tired of him, but I think he had one losing season his whole time here (the Vikings were 5-11 in 2001, Green's last season in Minnesota) … it was just a rough year. You had Korey Stringer passing away in training camp and a lot of different things going on. Coach Tice's record over the last four years, it's got to be one of the tops in the NFC.
"When you start looking at it from different aspects, what does this town really want out of a coach? I don't think they know sometimes. This town, unlike other towns, they don't respect their sports franchises and they definitely don't respect the guys leading them, i.e. the coaches."
Tackle Mike Rosenthal said any labeling of Tice as a coach who wasn't a disciplinarian would be unfair.
"You need to take care of your body, you need to study. Nobody telling you to do that will make you do that. If you don't want to do something, you don't have to do it. You need to kind of man up and do it yourself," Rosenthal said.
"You need to be accountable for your own discipline. We're all grown men. We've all been on this earth for at least 21 years. You know right from wrong. You need to be accountable to yourself and what you do and how you prepare."
Tight end Jermaine Wiggins said strict discipline is sometimes a good thing in the NFL.
"I think a guy that might come and not take much, if anything – might have a short leash – sometimes you need that," he said.
Wilf said the team's off-the-field issues had nothing to do with his decision to let go of Tice.
"I have very good things to say about Mike Tice," Wilf said. "I got to know him as a friend. He taught me a lot about coaching. We all felt that evaluating where we wanted to go in the future, towards getting what we want – the consistency, the championships – we felt we needed to take our team in our direction."
That said, Wilf said that discipline would be one of the aspect he'd desire in a coach.
"I won't comment on individual candidates, but we are considering individuals within our organization and individual outside our organization," he said.
Players Discuss Desired Coaching Qualities
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