Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Lions' hire may give Vikings luxury of time
By Ben Goessling
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- At this moment, now that the Detroit Lions have hired Jim Caldwell as their next head coach, the Minnesota Vikings are one of two teams still searching for a head coach. The other is the Cleveland Browns, who just fired Rob Chudzinski after one season and have to explain to candidates why they should trust the team.
There's a strong case to be made that the Vikings' job is the better of the two, and at this point only one of the team's known candidates (former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden) has accepted a job elsewhere.
The Vikings are conducting a second interview with Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer inside their facility as we speak, and if they chose to do so, they could make the 57-year-old Zimmer their next coach today. But is there a reason to hire Zimmer before the Vikings can talk to candidates like Seattle's Darrell Bevell and Dan Quinn and San Francisco's Greg Roman a second time?
There might not be, and if the Denver Broncos lose Sunday, their top assistants (offensive coordinator Adam Gase and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio) would also be in play. The Browns reportedly want to wait on Gase before making their decision, so there might not be anything pushing the Vikings until Denver's season is over.
When the Vikings fired Leslie Frazier, general manager Rick Spielman outlined a process in which the team would likely whittle its search down to two or three finalists after an initial round of interviews. Zimmer appears to be the first of those finalists, is believed to be the front-runner for the job and could grab it if he impresses ownership Tuesday.
But the Vikings' last two coaching searches happened in relative haste, and Spielman has turned to a deliberate decision-making process for the moves he badly needs to get right. Now, the Vikings can somehow thank a confluence of events for putting them in a situation where they're facing little outside pressure, other than Spielman's stated preference to have a coach in place by the Senior Bowl.
Zimmer might be the man for the job, but it would also appear as if the Vikings have the luxury of being able to wait a little longer to make sure that's the case.