The Vikings' special teams were a complete disaster this season, perhaps directly costing them multiple wins. As such, it's not surprising that the team is parting ways with ST coordinator Marwan Maalouf, who oversaw that unit throughout its struggles.
Maalouf's two-year contract expired after this season, and Mike Zimmer informed him that the team will not be renewing his deal, Zimmer told reporters on Tuesday.
"I don't really want to get into the specifics too much on that but we obviously didn't play very well," Zimmer said. "A lot of the guys that should have been playing on special teams were playing on defense, but we are going to shore up that area. That will be a major emphasis."
Every single imaginable area of the Vikings' special teams play went poorly in 2020. They were 31st in Football Outsiders' Special Teams DVOA, with a level of value lost that was the worst of any NFL team since 2013 (the Chargers were somehow even worse this season). Here's a brief look at some of the futility:
- The Vikings ranked dead last in punt return average at 4.3 yards per return. Their longest return of the season was 13 yards, and it happened in Week 17
- They ranked dead last in starting field position on BOTH offense and defense. That put them at a huge disadvantage on both sides of the ball.
- Punter Britton Colquitt ranked 31st in net punting average, and the Vikings allowed the third-most punt return yards in the league.
- Dan Bailey had an awful season, missing 13 kicks, ten of which came in the last five games.
- Minnesota was one of seven teams to allow a kickoff return TD, with Cordarrelle Patterson taking one to the house on MNF in Week 10.
- Rookie WR K.J. Osborn, drafted in the fifth round as a return specialist, was a major disappointment who eventually lost his role at both PR and KR.
Should Maalouf be directly blamed for all of those things? No, particularly when it comes to Bailey's struggles. But he certainly deserves the blame for most of them, even if the circumstances of having to rotate different players in and out of his special teams units weren't ideal.
With Maalouf out, the Vikings may end up looking for multiple new coordinators this offseason. Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak is reportedly planning to retire, although Zimmer didn't want to officially confirm that just yet.
"He’s taking some time to mentally think about the season and where he’s at health-wise and he’ll decide what he wants to do," Zimmer said.
Two names make sense as replacements for Maalouf at special teams coordinator. One is Ryan Ficken, the team's assistant STC for the past eight years. The other is Brayden Coombs, the former Lions STC who was with Zimmer in Cincinnati for five years.
Maalouf lasted just one season during his first stint as an NFL STC with the Colts in 2012. He spent the next six seasons as an assistant with the Dolphins before joining the Vikings in 2019.
Make sure to bookmark this site and check back daily for the latest Vikings news and analysis. Also, click the follow button in the upper right-hand corner of this page (mobile users, tap the bell icon – you may have to click ‘News’ first) and follow me on Twitter.