As I write this, the Vikings most important coaching need has not been addressed yet - Offensive Line Coach.
Currently, the Vikings have co-offensive line coaches Andrew Janocko and Clancy Barone, who were given these positions after the death of Tony Sparano, who had been offensive line coach for a couple years.
Janocko had limited experience as an offensive line assistant before being elevated to co-offensive line coach (more or less by default, given the timing of Sparano’s death) while Clancy Barone was moved from TE coach. Barone has coached offensive line - including under Gary Kubiak - but without much success.
It appears that the Vikings are looking for a new offensive line coach, as they began the process by interviewing Joe Philbin, formerly interim HC and OC with the Packers, and who had coached offensive line earlier on in his career with some success. But there hasn’t been much from the Vikings organization about Philbin since that interview, and Philbin has interviewed with other teams for head coaching jobs, so it doesn’t seem likely that Philbin will be hired as offensive line coach for the Vikings.
But with the news of the hiring of the Gary Kubiak Package to fill the roles of offensive advisor, QB coach, and TE coach, there has been speculation that Rick Dennison, who has also coached together with Kubiak in Houston and Denver, that Dennison will also come to the Vikings to be offensive line coach - a position he holds now with the Jets. He hadn’t coached offensive line for about 10 years prior to taking the Jets job. Dennison had been an offensive line coach back in 2001-2005 and 2009 with Denver. In any case, Dennison has little to no track record in improving offensive linemen, in part because he’s only coached them for two single-seasons over the past 13 years.
Given that, there isn’t much to suggest that Dennison will turn things around for the Vikings offensive line if he was hired to do so as offensive line coach. The Jets offensive line (where Dennison coached this season) was ranked 25th by PFF. There has been no confirmation that Dennison is leaving the Jets, nor is it clear if he remains under-contract with the Jets, which could potentially prevent his coming to Minnesota as part of the Kubiak Package. Dennison has only been with the Jets for a year, and presumably he signed a contract longer than one year, but you never know.
So, until we hear otherwise, the Vikings may be continuing to search for an offensive line coach. And there are a couple other possibilities worth strong consideration by Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman.
As offensive line coach for the Colts this past season, DeGuglielmo took a struggling offensive line in Indy and with the addition of top draft pick Quenton Nelson, turned them into the 3rd best offensive line in the NFL, according to PFF. Last season, in 2017, the Colts’ offensive line was ranked 25th. He is now available, as Colts head coach Frank Reich fired him to install his own guy at that position.
Stunner: The #Colts are letting OL coach Dave DeGuglielmo go, sources say. That line made tremendous leaps this season. But Frank Reich wants his own guy. DeGuglielmo was the only offensive coach Josh McDaniels had hired. Reich is actually recommending him to other coaches.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) January 15, 2019
DeGuglielmo employed a variety of blocking schemes and concepts, according to each game plan, that helped the Colts offensive line both protect Andrew Luck and develop a solid ground game. Here is a good explanation of how this was done. Clearly DeGuglielmo did a good job adapting his offensive linemen to each game plan, which varied in style and concepts, in support of the overall offensive game plan objectives. The Colts backfield was led by Marlon Mack, a 4th round pick in 2017.
DeGuglielmo could be a guy that with some influx of talent via the draft and/or free agency, could turn around the Vikings 29th ranked offensive line as well.
Another top offensive line coach that may be available to the Vikings is the Redskins offensive line coach Bill Callahan. I’ve mentioned him before as a possible offensive coordinator, but his greatest success has been as an offensive line coach. While he has had great success improving offensive lines wherever he’s been, from Wisconsin to Washington, his greatest success may have been in Dallas coaching the Cowboys offensive line into the best unit in the league during his tenure with the Cowboys from 2012-2014.
Although he is one of the better offensive line coaches in the NFL, he has one year left on his contract with the Redskins. But the rumor is he is looking to leave the Redskins, and could part ways with the organization one way or another. He would be another ‘good get’ for the Vikings if they are serious about fixing their Achilles heel which has been holding them back as much as anything from reaching their goal of bring home a Lombardi trophy.
Another possibility for offensive line coach from the college ranks is Joe Rudolph, who is currently the Associate head coach / offensive coordinator / offensive line coach for the Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin has produced a number of NFL linemen over the years, and Rudolph coached Ryan Ryamczyk, who has become a top tackle with the Saints, and a few top offensive linemen coming out in this year’s draft - Michael Deiter, Beau Benzschawel, and David Edwards. Wisconsin has one of the best offensive lines under Rudolph’s coaching.
Rudolph has interviewed for a head coaching job at Temple recently, and it’s unclear if he’d be willing to make the jump to the NFL as an offensive line coach, or prefers to stay in the college ranks. But if he’s willing to move up to the NFL, he could do a lot to help the Vikings offensive line improve as well.
Time will tell which way the Vikings go in filling the most crucial position coach spot on the team, but there are some very capable candidates out there if Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman are willing to pursue them.
Which of the above offensive line candidates sounds the best?
This poll is closed
Clancy Barone and Andrew Janocko