Thursday, January 30, 2014
Playoffs affected Vikings' coaching search
By Ben Goessling
MINNEAPOLIS -- Of the seven candidates the Minnesota Vikings interviewed for their head coaching job, four of them -- Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman, and 49ers defensive line coach Jim Tomsula -- were coaching with their respective teams into the NFC Championship Game. The Seahawks beat the 49ers to advance to Super Bowl XLVIII, where they will face a Denver Broncos team that has two coaches (offensive coordinator Adam Gase and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio) the Vikings had requested to interview, but never talked to before hiring Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.
We've talked previously about how the Vikings' coaching search was focused almost exclusively on current coordinators, and most of the candidates in whom the Vikings expressed interest were coaching with teams that made the playoffs. That put an inherent bind on the Vikings' coaching search, and it's interesting to wonder if things would have played out differently if, say, the Bengals would have won their wild-card weekend game against the San Diego Chargers and the 49ers would have lost a close wild-card game against the Green Bay Packers, rather than advancing all the way to the NFC title game.
It's impossible to know, but as Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star Tribune points out, Bevell and Del Rio might have factored much more prominently in the Vikings' coaching search if their teams hadn't kept winning. The interview process for coordinators carries NFL rules by which the Vikings had to abide, and a playoff result in one city can affect the timing of a coaching search in another. General manager Rick Spielman said the Vikings would take as long as they needed to find the right coaching candidate, and Zimmer came out as the clear favorite after an initial round of interviews, but it's also hard to judge the coaching search in a vacuum, when no team decided it could wait for Bevell, Quinn, Gase or Del Rio to finish their seasons.
For those coaches, the chances to take a head coaching job will have to wait at least a year. The tradeoff of coaching in the Super Bowl is undoubtedly worth it, but as the Broncos and Seahawks make final preparations for Sunday's game, it's interesting to think about whether any of their coordinators would have altered the Vikings' coaching search if their teams had lost earlier.