Vikings to Interview Tyke Tolbert for Offensive Coordinator Vacancy

The longtime wide receivers coach will become the first external candidate to interview.
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Maybe the Vikings' next offensive coordinator won't be Klint Kubiak after all. Minnesota is set to interview longtime wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert for their OC vacancy this week, according to Ian Rapaport.

Tolbert is the first officially reported interview for the Vikings, who are searching for Gary Kubiak's replacement after the veteran coach announced his retirement in January. The consensus has been that Klint Kubiak, Gary's son and the team's current quarterbacks coach, is the favorite for the job. But the Vikings were never going to just hand the job to Kubiak; they were always going to do their due diligence in exploring several different candidates, both internal and external.

Tolbert is an interesting candidate. He has never been an offensive coordinator or playcaller at any level, but he does have 18 years of experience as an NFL wide receivers coach in several different offensive systems. After playing at LSU, Tolbert bounced around the college ranks as a wide receivers and tight ends coach until getting his first NFL job in 2003. He has been a WRs coach ever since then, primarily for the Bills (2004-09), Broncos (2011-17), and Giants (2018-present). 

Here are some of the notable receivers Tolbert has coached during his time in the NFL.

  • Rookie of the Year Anquan Boldin (Cardinals, 2003)
  • Lee Evans (Bills, 2004-09)
  • Eric Moulds (Bills, 2004-05)
  • Terrell Owens (Bills, 2005)
  • Steve Smith (Panthers, 2010)
  • Demaryius Thomas (Broncos, 2011-17)
  • Eric Decker (Broncos, 2011-13)
  • Emmanuel Sanders (Broncos, 2014-17)
  • Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants, 2018)
  • Darius Slayton (Giants, 2019-20)

The obvious connection, as pointed out by Rapaport, is that Tolbert worked under Gary Kubiak in Denver in 2015 and 2016. He then spent 2018 and 2019 working under former Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur with the Giants. So Tolbert is familiar with the schemes that Mike Zimmer and the Vikings have used in recent years, specifically Kubiak's wide-zone, run-heavy offense. Hiring Tolbert would allow the Vikings to keep the same system, which is something Zimmer has said he wants. Between Tolbert and new wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell, Justin Jefferson and the rest of Minnesota's receivers would have a pair of coaches with a ton of experience working with that position.

As for concerns about Tolbert never having called plays: neither has Klint Kubiak. If either is hired as OC, they'll have an important resource in offensive line coach/run game coordinator Rick Dennison, who does have experience calling plays.

The Vikings could look to hire someone with more experience, whether Dennison or an external candidate like Hue Jackson. But for now, it appears that the two leading candidates are Kubiak and Tolbert.

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