With the buzz over the Mike Singletary hiring yesterday, another coaching hire by the Vikings appears to have gone a bit under the radar.
It's not "official" yet. . .the announcement could be coming as early as today, but should happen sometime this week. . .that former Denver Broncos' special teams coach Mike Priefer will join the Vikings in the same capacity. He will replace Brian Murphy, who left the team to join the Carolina Panthers.
Since this hiring has been rumored for a while, I took the liberty of asking John Bena, the head blogger at SB Nation's Broncos' site Mile High Report, of his impressions of Mike Priefer. Here's what he told me.
I, personally, have not been a fan of the Broncos ST units. In fact, many of their defensive issues have been caused by allowing teams to have the benefit of good starting field position. Now, the question becomes, is this a talent issue or a coaching issue? Obviously, the Broncos talent base has NOT been very good. The first place that becomes evident is on special teams. Once injuries start to mount, and special teams stars are forced into the starting lineup, that gets even worse.
This has been an issue with the Broncos for a while, longer than Priefer has been with the team, which leads me to believe it is a talent issue. Poor drafts erode depth and special teams suffer for it. When Champ Bailey is on kick coverage you know you have a problem.
The Broncos have a great PK in Matt Prater who does a solid job with touchbacks. They have a young punter in Britton Colquitt who does a nice job as well. After that - the return and coverage units leave a bit to be desired. They did return a kickoff for a touchdown late in the season, but overall I was not impressed with the units.
Since the Vikings likely have more talent at the bottom of the roster, Priefer might be a perfect fit because he has a ton of ST coaching experience. He just didn't have much to work with in Denver.
Well, I'm not sure about the difference in talent at the bottom of the roster, but Priefer will again have an excellent kicker and punter to work with in Ryan Longwell and Chris Kluwe.
Priefer seems like a solid guy from everything that Judd Zulgad's article linked above says about him. . .played his college football at Navy, flew helicopters in the Navy, and has a ton of coaching experience. Hopefully he can help the Vikings' special teams units step up here and make themselves more able to help the team than they have been in recent years.