A couple big pieces of Detroit Lions news came out on Saturday that will affect the Vikings in different ways. First, it was reported that they are hiring former Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn as their next offensive coordinator. That's a big hire for new Lions head coach Dan Campbell and GM Brad Holmes, who also landed Aaron Glenn as their defensive coordinator recently. Shortly after, news emerged that the Lions and longtime quarterback Matthew Stafford have mutually agreed to part ways, meaning the former No. 1 overall pick will be traded this offseason.
Let's start with the coordinator news. This means Lynn can be removed from the list of potential OC candidates for the Vikings. With his pedigree as a former running backs coach and an existing relationship with Mike Zimmer, Lynn was seen as one of the bigger names to track in terms of potential external hires to replace Gary Kubiak. Now, he'll be running the offense of one of Minnesota's division rivals.
Lynn going off the board would seem to only increase the odds that the Vikings hire internally to replace Kubiak. The heavy favorite at the moment is quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak, Gary's 33-year-old son, but Rick Dennison and Andrew Janocko could also be possibilities. External candidates with ties to Zimmer like Hue Jackson or Ken Zampese can't be ruled out, but they seem less likely than an internal promotion, for now.
One other Lions connection that I wrote about earlier this week: if the Vikings do promote Klint Kubiak and move Janocko from WRs coach to QBs, they reportedly could hire Lions WRs coach Robert Prince. Campbell and company could block that move, but he may want to bring in a receivers coach that he has familiarity with.
Now, we have to wait to see who Lynn's quarterback will be next season. After 12 seasons in Detroit, Stafford will be playing elsewhere in 2021. What that means for the Vikings is that they should be favored in both of their meetings with the Lions this fall. That may have been the case even if Stafford was still there, but Detroit will almost certainly take a big step back this season. Now there's a ton of uncertainty with the Lions' offense. Not only do they need to find a new QB, but star receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones are free agents.
Stafford went 8-13 as a starter against the Vikings, losing each of his last six starts against Minnesota. He had big moments, like finding Golden Tate for an overtime game-winner in 2016, and he had struggles, like being sacked ten times in 2018. Stafford only threw for 300 yards once in 13 games against the Zimmer-led Vikings, and that was in a 42-30 loss in 2019.
With the No. 7 overall pick, the Lions are in position to draft their next franchise QB this offseason. They might have to trade up if they want either Zach Wilson or Justin Fields, but both Trey Lance and Mac Jones should still be available at that slot.
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