Defensive Coaching Staff

Get to know the Vikings' defensive coaching staff with our overview, from coordinator Mike Tomlin to his assistants.

Mike Tomlin, Defensive Coordinator: Mike Tomlin will enter his sixth NFL season in 2006 after spending 2001-05 as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defensive backs coach. Tomlin's backfields have helped the Buccaneers defense rank among the league leaders over the past five seasons. In 2005, Tampa Bay led the NFL in total defense, allowing opponents 277.8 yards per game. The No. 1 ranking was the second time in Tomlin's five seasons that the Buccaneers led the league, the other coming in 2002. The Tampa Bay defense never fell below sixth (2001) and had a pair of fifth-place finishes (2003, 2004). The Buccaneers pass defense ranked No. 1 in the NFL in 2002 and 2004.

Tomlin's defensive backs have earned numerous honors for their play during his coaching tenure. Perennial Pro Bowl CB Ronde Barber earned trips to Hawaii in 2001, '04 and '05, and S John Lynch was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2001 and '02.

Prior to joining the Buccaneers, Tomlin spent two seasons as the defensive backs coach at the University of Cincinnati (1999-00). In 2000, the Bearcats ranked eighth in the nation in interceptions and fourth in total turnovers. Tomlin also spent two seasons at Arkansas State, coaching wide receivers in 1997 and defensive backs in 1998. He spent the 1996 season as a graduate assistant at the University of Memphis. Tomlin began his coaching career as WRs coach at Virginia Military Institute.

Tomlin was a three-year starter at WR for William and Mary (1992-94) and finished his career with 101 receptions for 2,046 yards and a school-record 20 TD catches. He was a first-team All-Yankee Conference selection in 1994 and a teammate at William and Mary with Vikings Pro Bowl S Darren Sharper.

Karl Dunbar, Defensive Line: Karl Dunbar is no stranger to the NFL and comes to the Vikings with a connection to one of the team's best players. Dunbar comes to the Vikings from LSU, where he served in 2004 as assistant head coach/defensive Line. Dunbar spent the 2005 season in the NFL as the defensive line coach of the Chicago Bears, working with standout rookie starters Tommie Harris and Tank Johnson. While working as defensive line coach at Oklahoma State in 2002-03, Dunbar coached Vikings 2003 first-round draft pick DT Kevin Williams to first-team All-Big 12 honors.

As a player, Dunbar was a three-year starter on the defensive line for LSU and was selected in the eighth round of the NFL Draft by Pittsburgh (1990). He went on to play with New Orleans (1992-93) and Arizona (1994-95), along with seeing time with the Orlando Thunder and Rhein Fire of the World League.

Dunbar began his coaching career in 1996 and 1997 at the high school level before moving to the college ranks in 1998-99 at Nicholls State.

"Karl is a great teacher of fundamentals and hand skills and he's played the position at the NFL level," Vikings head coach Brad Childress said. "He has experience coaching at the NFL level and all you have to do is watch his players to know exactly what you are going to get."

Fred Pagac, Linebackers: The Vikings hired Fred Pagac (pronounced PUG-itch) to coach linebackers. Pagac came to the Vikings with 24 seasons of coaching experience, including five in the NFL. He made his reputation tutoring standout defenses at his alma mater, Ohio State, where he spent 19 seasons on the sidelines. Pagac coached Buckeye LBs from 1982-95 before taking over as defensive coordinator from 1996-99. During his tenure at OSU, Pagac had 10 players earn All-America honors, including Vikings CB Antoine Winfield, who earned the Thorpe Award as the top collegiate defensive back.

Pagac started for three years at TE for the Buckeyes before moving on to an NFL career with Chicago (1974) and Tampa Bay (1976).

He got his start coaching in 1978 under the legendary Woody Hayes. Pagac moved to the NFL as LBs coach in Oakland from 2001-03 before moving across the AFC West to Kansas City for 2004-05. The 2002 Raiders ranked No. 11 in the NFL in total defense and were No. 3 against the run as the team won the AFC and faced Tampa Bay in Super Bowl XXXVII. This season in Kansas City, the Chiefs ranked No. 7 in the NFL against the run, tied for No. 6 in the NFL with 31 takeaways and were tied for No. 4 in the NFL with 15 recovered fumbles.

"I've had an opportunity to coach against Fred Pagac's linebackers for a lot of years in the Big Ten from when I was with the University of Illinois on," Childress said. "He has coached many, many professional athletes. He coached Napoleon Harris on this team when he was in Oakland. Fred broke in with Oakland and Jon Gruden gives him awful high marks. I've had a professional relationship with him for probably 20 years now and I've always admired the toughness and tenacity of his linebackers."

Matt Sheldon, Defensive Assistant: Matt Sheldon will work closely with new Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin and the defensive coaching staff. Sheldon comes to the Vikings after spending four seasons with the St. Louis Rams. Sheldon began with St. Louis as a defensive assistant/quality control in 2001-02. During his tenure with the Rams, Sheldon moved on to work with special teams and on special projects. Sheldon began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Wisconsin on the defensive side of the ball and working with the Badgers' defensive backs. Sheldon is familiar with the Twin Cities, having played football at the University of Minnesota, and is a native of Wausau, Wis.

Joe Woods, Secondary: Joe Woods was hired as secondary coach, reuniting him with former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaching colleague and Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin. Woods spent 2004 and '05 with Tampa Bay as defensive quality control coach and helped Tomlin guide defenses that ranked No. 1 in the NFL in yardage yielded in 2005 and No. 5 in 2004. The 2004 Tampa Bay pass defense ranked No. 1 in the NFL. The Bucs combined in the past two seasons to record 57 takeaways on defense, 30 in 2005 and 27 in 2004. Tampa Bay LB Derrick Brooks and CB Ronde Barber earned Pro Bowl honors in both seasons. Woods' tenure with the Bucs was his first stint in the NFL after coaching 12 seasons at the collegiate level.

A standout on the field, Woods earned first-team All-Gateway Conference honors and was a team captain as a senior at Illinois State in 1991.

"Joe Woods cut his teeth in the Mid-America Conference, which is a very good football conference," Childress said. "He started as an intern with the Tampa Bay organization and he knows Mike Tomlin's and Monte Kiffin's defense like the back of his hand. It will be a seamless transition for him to come here and coach the defensive backfield."


Viking Update Top Stories