According to Judd Zulgad, Chip Scoggins, and KFAN-AM 1130 in Minneapolis, the Minnesota Vikings have hired former Tennessee Titans running backs coach Craig Johnson to serve as their new quarterbacks coach. If that sounds a bit weird, Johnson's only season as running backs coach of the Titans was 2010. From 2002 to 2009, he did indeed serve as the Titans' quarterbacks coach.
During that time, he helped to develop an NFL co-MVP (Steve McNair in 2003), an NFL Rookie of the Year (Vince Young in 2006), and was even able to help Kerry Collins forget that he was Kerry Collins for a year or two. All in all, quarterbacks under Johnson's tutelage have garnered five Pro Bowl selections during his tenure with Tennessee.
Johnson was a quarterback at the University of Wyoming in his college days, and was a three-time letter winner at the position. After spending time as a graduate assistant at Wyoming (1983) and Arkansas (1984), he went on to be the assistant running backs coach at Navy (1985) and the running backs coach at Rutgers (1986-1988). After a three-year stint as the quarterback coach and offensive coordinator at the Virginia Military Institute (1989-1991), he moved on to be the quarterbacks coach for Northwestern University (1992-1996). Finally, from 1997 to 1999, he was the quarterback coach at the University of Maryland (and served as offensive coordinator in 1997 and 1998) before moving on to the Titans prior to the 2000 NFL season.
I'm actually pretty excited about this hiring, as it appears that Johnson, who turned 50 this past season, seems to know what he's doing when it comes to developing a quarterback in the National Football League. With this hire, as well as yesterday's addition of Bill Musgrave and his experience with quarterback development, it would seem more and more likely that the Vikings will be taking a quarterback early in the 2011 NFL Draft if the opportunity is there to do so.
Now, the hiring of Johnson is, in all likelihood, going to trigger speculation of Vince Young potentially ending up in Minnesota. Young is in a precarious position with the Titans, having freaked out on coach Jeff Fisher during the season, and that's precisely the reason I'm pretty sure I don't want that guy anywhere near the Vikings. . .he seems to have the maturity level of a five-year old. If you told me that this team would have the ability to actually make him grow up and lose the sense of entitlement that he's seemingly always had, he does have a ton of physical talent. Of course, nobody can make that guarantee.
But welcome to Minnesota, Coach Johnson. Hopefully your track record of success will continue here as well.