Youth, NFC Familiarity Themes of New Staff

Both of Brad Childress' coordinators are in their 30s but have at least five years of NFL coaching experience, with each of them coming from the NFC ranks.

Vikings coach Brad Childress added another young gun to his coaching staff Thursday, naming 36-year-old Darrell Bevell the offensive coordinator. The move comes two days after announcing 33-year-old Mike Tomlin as the defensive coordinator.

Bevell will be entering his seventh NFL season, Tomlin his fifth.

"I think it's a young man's game," Childress said. "I think it's all about communication and being able to teach the system."

Bevell started with the Packers in 2000 under Mike Sherman working as an offensive assistant/quality control. He was promoted to offensive assistant in 2002 and then to quarterbacks coach in 2003, when he was responsible for Brett Favre, who was three months older than his position coach. Bevell said the two had a good relationship. During Bevell's tenure with the Packers, they were 57-39 in the regular season and advanced to the playoffs in four straight seasons until going 4-12 in 2005. The Packers won the NFC North from 2002 to 2004, and his familiarity with the division was one reason Childress liked Bevell.

Bevell was also the quarterback at the University of Wisconsin when Childress was the Badgers' offensive coordinator, and the two have run similar West Coast-style offenses at Green Bay and Philadelphia.

"I told Coach that I am excited about being able to mesh the system that he had in Philadelphia with the system we had in Green Bay," Bevell said. "I am sure there will be a lot of similarities between them because they are both from the West Coast-style offense. Some of the terms are exactly the same as when I was a player at Wisconsin. So we should be able to get that moving along pretty quick."

Childress said the NFL game demands a youthful attitude to relate to the players and to keep up with the hours demanded of many of the league's coaching staffs. It may take time for Childress and Bevell to adapt the new offense to the talent of the Vikings, and Bevell said he would be meeting with Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper either later Thursday or on Friday.

"I think the great thing about the West Coast offense is that it is adaptable," Bevell said. "I know in my time in Green Bay as a quarterback coach one year we were tops in the league at rushing and the very next season we were tops in the league at throwing the ball. So I think you have the ability to adapt to whatever your personnel allows you to do. So we'll take a look at our personnel here and see what we are best at."

Childress is a coach who has been noted as sleeping in his office several times during the regular season and a man who takes meticulous notes and runs an organized team.

Bevell's tenure at Green Bay was enhanced during Brett Favre's most productive days. Green Bay ranked fourth and third in the NFL in offense in 2003 and 2004, respectively. From 2003-05, Favre led the NFL with 1,026 completions, ranked second with 82 TD passes and was fourth in the league with 11,330 yards. The 2004 Packers set a team record with 4,449 net yards passing, breaking an 11-year-old mark.

Bevell's playing achievements came at Wisconsin, where he was known as an intelligent quarterback who made up for a lack of elite skills with his brain. The highlight of his Badgers career came as a sophomore when he guided the team to a share of the Big Ten title, a 10-1-1 record and the 1994 Rose
Bowl championship. The conference crown was the first for Wisconsin since 1962. He was a four-year starter for the Badgers and left the school as the all-time passing leader with 19 school records and a pair of Big Ten marks.

Bevell began coaching at Westmar University before moving to Iowa State and Connecticut.

The his familiarity with the NFC North was an advantage for Bevell, knowing the conference powers helped in the hiring of Tomlin from Tampa Bay.

Hiring from the college ranks for position coaches began Thursday as well.

It started with wide receivers coach Darrell Wyatt, who has coached that position at the University of Oklahoma since 2002. He mentored three first-day draft picks, including Mark Clayton of the Baltimore Ravens (first round, 2005). Wyatt has served four NFL minority coaching fellowships, working with Tampa Bay in 1996, Denver in ‘97 and '98 and Philadelphia in 2005, where he got to know Chidress.

Then came assistant offensive coach Jim Heuber, who brings 33 seasons of coaching experience, including 10 years at the Wisconsin and eight years with the University of Minnesota before that.

Two others with extensive college coaching experience are Jimmie Johnson, the new tight ends coach who played 10 years in the NFL before getting four years of coaching experience at Texas Southern and Shaw University, and Brian Murphy, the new assistant special teams coach who has been coaching since 1992 at Benedictine (Ill.), Wisconsin, Baylor, San Diego and Lehigh.

New offensive line coach Pat Morris has the most NFL experience on the staff, as he has coached the offensive line for the last nine seasons in the NFL with the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers.

The Vikings have not yet hired any position coaches on defense, and some of those from the Mike Tice era could be among the candidates.

"I haven't entirely ruled all of them out at all," Childress said. "I still have a couple of guys that I need to speak to, but again, I want to take my time. There is no need to hurry unless you know exactly who it is and what you want at that position. Some of it I am still taking my time with."


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