Youth Movement

Brad Johnson is the oldest member of the Vikings, but, thanks to the hiring this week of new offensive and defensive coordinators, Johnson might feel just a little older.

Brad Johnson is 37 years old -- an eternity for a NFL player, but not so for a coach. Most believe a good head coach should be in his 40s and, in the case of guys like Joe Gibbs, much beyond that.

If Johnson wasn't feeling old enough, the recent hirings of Mike Tomlin and Darrell Bevell probably finished the feeling for Johnson. Johnson is older than both of his coordinators -- Bevell is 36 and Tomlin is just 33. With their youth comes an enthusiasm that has made them hot properties when organizations were looking for replacements -- a number that continues to grow.

Both of the new coaches will need to have all their strength as the Vikings turn to a West Coast Offense created by the Vikings in the mid-70s, popularized by the 49ers of the 1980s and spread throughout the NFL thanks to a Bill Walsh coaching tree that branches throughout the league. Not to be outdone, the Vikings will switch defenses to a Cover 2 system developed and spread by Tony Dungy. With the talent the Vikings have on defense, the primary changes will be to blitz only selectively and use speed and finesse to break down drives.

Will this youth movement help the Vikings get over the hump and return to prominance in the NFL? If the early indicators mean anything, the answer would seem to be a resounding "yes." With the new enthusiasm brought by the young coaches and the pledge to spend money in free agency to fix the holes in the Vikings roster, 2006 promises to be a year of change in Minnesota.

FRIDAY NOTES
* There were some eyebrows raised when coach Brad Childress fired Ted Cottrell over the phone last weekend, but VU has been told one of the reasons was the availability of Tomlin when the Buccaneers were eliminated from the playoffs last Saturday. Childress wanted to make a strong push to get Tomlin and part of that was to officially create a coaching vacancy.
* Two players who could end up being key components of the new-look Vikings offense are RB Mewelde Moore and WR Koren Robinson. In the West Coast offense, running backs have to be able to catch passes and Childress sees many of the same types of qualities in Moore that he had in Eagles RB Brian Westbrook. While durability remains a concern, there's no question Moore will be a key part of the Vikings offense -- as either the go-to guy or as a third-down role player. Robinson, who is a free agent but is going to be targeted hard by the Vikings to re-sign before free agency begins, has experience in the WCO having played in it with Mike Holmgren in Seattle.
* Four Vikings assistants from the Tice Administration are still potentially going to be retained -- coverage coordinator Chuck Knox, strength and conditioning coach Kurtis Schultz, assistant QB coach Randy Hanson and linebackers coach Pete Bercich. None have been formally re-hired, but Childress said he is considering all of them.
* Daunte Culpepper was scheduled to meet with Childress today. He arrived in the Twin Cities Thursday after returning from rehab work in Florida.
* Ted Cottrell's name has surfaced as a potential head coaching candidate in Buffalo, where coach Mike Mullarkey resigned Thursday.
* Two former Vikings -- Warren Moon and Gary Zimmerman -- are among the 15 finalists for the Hall of Fame. The inductees will be announced during Super Bowl week.

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