The Vikings aren't going to be hiring a new head coach for a while. Owner and team president Mark Wilf said on Monday that they'll be hiring a new general manager first and that person will have input in hiring the coach.
With that said, that doesn't mean there aren't people in the Vikings' building who are doing the groundwork on potential coaching candidates as we speak. And even as the GM search comes first, we're going to be following all of the rumors and reports around the hunt for Mike Zimmer's replacement. Yesterday, that meant talking about the highly-interesting Lane Kiffin rumor.
On Tuesday, we got a report from Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports regarding former Eagles Super Bowl-winning head coach Doug Pederson, who spent the past year away from football but seems poised to return to the sidelines in 2022.
"Doug Pederson is scheduling interview with Bears and will end up interviewing with the Vikings and Broncos as well," La Canfora tweeted. "Already met with Jacksonville."
The wording of that tweet is important. The Vikings interviewing Pederson isn't imminent, but the report is that it's something that will be happening eventually, perhaps after the Vikings hire a GM.
The timing of everything here is fascinating. Because if the Vikings want to wait to do head coach interviews after they hire the GM, it might behoove them to hire a GM pretty quickly so they don't risk missing out on candidates who could end up with the Jaguars, Dolphins, Bears, or Broncos (or maybe the Raiders if that job becomes available). But the Vikings also don't want to rush what is a massive decision when it comes to hiring Rick Spielman's replacement.
This, from Judd Zulgad at SKOR North, is notable. "We hear that Pederson is intrigued enough by the Vikings job that he would be willing to wait until the general manager is in place to see if he might be a fit in Minnesota," Zulgad wrote.
Wilf made it clear that the Vikings aren't going to rush this process.
“We don’t try to look at who’s hot and who’s cold, because we’re just looking at the criteria I spoke about, which is great leaders, great communicators and great collaborators," he said on Monday when asked about the challenge of needing to hire both positions and if that could cause them to miss out on 'hot' coaching candidates.
"I know there are a lot of good people, and like I said, this is a highly desirable position to be leading the Minnesota Vikings ... a storied franchise with a great fan base and great community. So I’m confident we’ll be OK there. We’re not going to get caught up in any kind of frenzies in terms of chasing this one or that one. We’re going to be deliberate, we’re going to be thorough and we’re going to get the kind of leaders that our players will want to follow and that will get us success on and off the field."
Timing aside, it sounds like the Vikings will be interviewing Pederson at some point in the not-too-distant future. And that makes a lot of sense. When looking for your next coach, why not explore the only possible candidate who has actually won a Super Bowl as a head coach?
Pederson spent 14 seasons as a professional quarterback for the Dolphins, Panthers, Packers, Eagles, Browns, and in second-tier leagues. Much of that time was spent backing up Brett Favre during two stints in Green Bay. He started 17 games, all of them coming in 1999 and 2000.
After his playing days, Pederson's coaching career began at the high school ranks in Louisiana for a few years. He then jumped straight to the NFL, getting a job as an offensive quality control coach with the Eagles in 2009. The connection there was that he played for then-Eagles head coach Andy Reid in both Green Bay and Philadelphia. Following two seasons in quality control, Pederson spent the next two seasons as the Eagles' quarterbacks coach, working with Michael Vick. Reid was let go by Philly in 2013, got hired by the Chiefs, and brought Pederson along as his offensive coordinator.
Kansas City went 31-17 with Pederson at OC and Alex Smith at quarterback from 2013-15. That helped Pederson land his first head coaching gig with the Eagles in 2016, where he was instantly tied to the hip with No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz. Philadelphia went 7-9 that season, but then went 13-3 in 2017 with Wentz emerging as an MVP frontrunner until he tore his ACL late in the season. As Vikings fans are well aware, Nick Foles took over at quarterback and the Eagles beat the Falcons, Vikings, and Patriots to win the Super Bowl.
Pederson's Eagles went 9-7 in each of the next two seasons, making the playoffs both times but going 1-2 in postseason action. After a rough 4-11-1 season in 2020 in which Wentz and the entire offense were awful, Pederson was fired. He spent 2021 away from coaching.
There are plenty of reasons why Pederson is getting a lot of interest for interviews, and it goes beyond just the Super Bowl ring. We know pretty clearly from the last couple seasons that Wentz isn't a very good quarterback, so it says a lot about Pederson that he was able to help him become an MVP contender in 2017 and post the No. 6 offense in the NFL in EPA per play that year. Pederson coming from the Andy Reid tree means he has a lot of experience learning from one of the greatest offensive minds of this generation.
A common criticism of Pederson is that the Eagles' success in 2017 came from then-offensive coordinator and current Colts head coach Frank Reich, but it's noteworthy that Reich and Wentz fell short of the playoffs this season with the Colts and that he has just one playoff win in four years in Indianapolis.
There are a lot of exciting candidates out there for the Vikings, many of them with offensive backgrounds. Pederson, while not a young, up-and-coming coordinator looking for his first head job, offers something different as a guy who has done the job already and had success with a flawed quarterback. Personally, I think the Vikings could do a lot worse.
Thanks for reading. Make sure to bookmark this site and check back daily for the latest Vikings news and analysis all offseason long. Also, follow me on Twitter and feel free to ask me any questions on there.