Yesterday, we brought you the report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Minnesota Vikings had denied the New York Giants permission to interview current Quarterbacks Coach Kevin Stefanski for their Offensive Coordinator vacancy. The move came as a bit of a surprise, at least to me, because it was thought that Stefanski was extraneous with the Vikings’ hiring of former Eagles’ Quarterbacks Coach John DeFilippo to fill the Offensive Coordinator position.
While the Vikings are well within their rights to prevent Stefanski from interviewing with the Giants, as he still has a year on his current contract, the current rule governing such things is dumb, in my opinion. The National Football League currently considers an interview for any assistant coaching position to be a “lateral move,” and that allows teams to block such potential moves even when it would clearly be a promotion for the coach involved. We all know that moving from a position coach role to a coordinator role is clearly a promotion, but the league does not currently view it as such.
The rule, however dumb it might be, could wind up working out for the Vikings in the end. One of the theories that has been bounced around social media, and one that actually makes sense, is the supposition that the Vikings view DeFilippo as a “one-and-done” candidate as their Offensive Coordinator. If that’s the case, then they could hold onto Stefanski, let him work under DeFilippo this year, and if DeFilippo does move on following this season, Stefanski could then be elevated to the Offensive Coordinator spot with the Vikings.
It’s not that far-fetched a scenario, to be honest. DeFilippo had two interviews for head coaching jobs this postseason, as he sat down with both the Arizona Cardinals and the Chicago Bears. However, he took the job with the Vikings, and as his introductory Q&A with the Vikings’ media shows, he took it because he’s very impressed with the offensive talent this team has. If he can work the kind of magic with Minnesota’s offense that he apparently thinks he can, he’s definitely going to be a head coaching candidate again next season, and with the results the Vikings could potentially get if that happens, I’m guessing that nobody’s going to mind too much.
The slightly more offbeat variant of this theory is that, after the 2018 season, the Vikings are going to elevate DeFilippo to the head coaching job on their own sideline because of Mike Zimmer’s health issues. While I can understand that Zimmer’s health is a concern, I kind of see Mike Zimmer as the sort of guy that you would have to, literally, drag out of the job if it came down to it. Since this Vikings team has enough talent where a full-blown collapse is damn near inconceivable, Zimmer would probably have to step down on his own in order to make this happen, and I just don’t see that as being realistic. But, if it did happen, the Vikings could make DeFilippo the head coach and still elevate Stefanski to the Offensive Coordinator role. Again, I think the chances of this happening are quite slim, but it is something that’s been floated out there.
While not allowing Kevin Stefanski to interview with the Giants is probably a bad look from the “20,000 foot view” of things, it would appear that the Vikings are protecting their own best interests. Stefanski and DeFilippo were, reportedly, the two finalists for the Offensive Coordinator job, and if DeFilippo is a hot head coaching candidate again after the 2018 season, it makes sense for the Vikings to keep the other finalist for the job so that they can have him in reserve for next season.