To see Mike Tomlin, he could easily be mistaken for a player. He doesn't turn 34 until March, but has made a name for himself as a position coach. Now he gets the same chance on a grander scale.
The Vikings signed Tomlin as the defensive coordinator Tuesday, inking a three-year, $1.5 million deal. Head coach Brad Childress said that age wasn't a factor -- citing coaching experience as "dog years" when it comes to age of coaches. Tomlin was the only interview for the vacant defensive coordinator position and was the likely reason the firing of Ted Cottrell and eight position coaches over the phone last weekend came off like it did. Once Tampa Bay had been eliminated from the playoff chase Saturday, the Vikings wasted little time in pursuing the candidate that was at the top of Childress' list.
Tomlin is young, but has something few coaches can share -- a Super Bowl ring. Tomlin replaced current Chiefs head coach Herman Edwards as the defensive backs coach for the Bucs. Edwards, who learned the Tampa 2 defense at the feet of its originator -- former Vikings defensive coordinator Tony Dungy -- passed the knowledge on and Tomlin worked under Monte Kiffin and picked up the same intricate nuances of the system.
For some players, the hiring of Tomlin could enhance their own standing. Fred Smoot ran a variation of the defense in Washington and Sam Cowart ran Edwards' version of the defense with the Jets.
With Tomlin signed, the Vikings will now turn their attention to hiring an offensive coordinator. The top early prospect is Packers quarterbacks coach Darrell Bevel. The Vikings have been given permission to talk to the 36-year-old assistant coach and, if their persistence is the same as it was for Tomlin, he could be locked up by the end of the week.
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