Here is the latest inside slant on the whole team from USA Today.
Posted 1/5/2006 4:06 AM
With eight head coaching openings around the NFL as of Wednesday, the
Vikings' priorities appear to have changed in their search to fill two
At a Monday news conference, owner Zygi Wilf indicated the team wanted
to hire a personnel chief and then look for a replacement for fired
coach Mike Tice.
But after suffering a setback in the quest to fill the personnel opening
- and with so many teams looking for a coach - the focus had shifted by
Tuesday. The setback occurred when Eagles vice president of player
personnel Tom Heckert ended up staying in Philadelphia after being given
the general manager's title.
Having failed to get their top choice, Wilf and his associates turned
their attention to filling the coaching vacancy first. The urgency might
have been due in part to the fact the Vikings saw Washington's Gregg
Williams taken off the market so quickly when the Redskins gave their
assistant head coach/defense huge bucks to stay.
Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress was interviewed on Tuesday
before heading to Green Bay to talk to the Packers.
Kansas City assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Al Saunders,
Vikings defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell and Indianapolis assistant
head coach/quarterbacks Jim Caldwell were next to be interviewed.
Saunders was supposed to be in Houston on Thursday; Cottrell and
Caldwell are not believed to be on any other team's list of head
Another other potential candidate for the Vikings job could be Iowa
coach Kirk Ferentz, but it's unclear if he will be interviewed or has a
desire to leave the Hawkeyes program.
The process is being led by Wilf, his brother and team president Mark
Wilf, as well as vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski
and vice president of operations and legal counsel Kevin Warren.
While the Vikings would like to get a head coach hired as soon as
possible but appear committed to doing a thorough search, it's not clear
when the personnel chief will be named. That person will work with
Brzezinski, a salary-cap specialist, and will have a say on both pro and
So far, Vikings director of college scouting Scott Studwell and
coordinator of pro personnel Jeff Robinson have interviewed for that job.
Ã¢â‚¬â€Within hours of being fired as the Vikings coach, Mike Tice received an
offer from his former defensive coordinator, George O'Leary, to join the
staff at Central Florida. Tice declined.
Ã¢â‚¬â€In addition to playing NFC North opponents Chicago, Green Bay and
Detroit home and away, the Vikings schedule looks like this: home games
against Arizona, St. Louis, New England, the Jets and Carolina, road
game at San Francisco, Seattle, Buffalo, Miami and Washington.
Ã¢â‚¬â€Jermaine Wiggins became the second tight end to lead the Vikings in
receptions in two consecutive seasons. He had 69 this year. Steve Jordan
was the other tight end to accomplish the feat, doing it in 1985-86.
Ã¢â‚¬â€Third-string quarterback Shaun Hill, who signed with the Vikings as a
rookie free agent in 2002, saw his first NFL action in Sunday's victory
over Chicago, kneeling twice at the end of the game.
Ã¢â‚¬â€Paul Edinger's 54-yard field goal in the second quarter Sunday was his
third field goal of more than 50 yards this season, trying a team record
held by Jan Stenerud and Fuad Reveiz.
Ã¢â‚¬â€Brad Johnson had four interceptions in 294 attempts this season, the
fewest interceptions among quarterbacks who had more than 224 attempts
in the NFL this season. His interception percentage also was the lowest
in team history.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It comes down to the coordinators. What kind of scheme
they want to play, how they're going to use us. So I'll be spending most
of my time with the defensive coordinator, so it really doesn't matter
who the head coach is." - Cornerback Antoine Winfield, when asked about
his next head coach.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Vikings spent the week talking to coaching candidates after firing
Mike Tice following Sunday's victory over the Chicago Bears.
Philadelphia offensive coordinator Brad Childress, Kansas City assistant
head coach/offensive coordinator Al Saunders, Vikings defensive
coordinator Ted Cottrell and Indianapolis assistant head
coach/quarterbacks Jim Caldwell all have been interviewed by Minnesota
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is a possibility to join the mix. The Vikings
were hoping to lure Washington assistant head coach/defense Gregg
Williams, but that ended when the Redskins gave him a three-year, $8
COACHING CAROUSEL: Tice's assistants remain under contract until Jan. 31
and have been asked to do player evaluations. The team, however, is
giving permission to any team that wants to talk to one of Tice's former
The Arizona Cardinals will talk to Steve Loney about becoming their
offensive line coach. Loney spent this past season as the Vikings'
offensive coordinator and line coach. Wide receivers coach Wes Chandler
might be headed to Baltimore.
FREE AGENT UPDATE
Ã¢â‚¬â€RB Michael Bennett (almost certain to be playing elsewhere next season).
Ã¢â‚¬â€CB Ralph Brown (nickel and dime back for much of the season, he was
demoted late in the year and might be allowed to walk).
Ã¢â‚¬â€SS Corey Chavous (unhappy with his contract, there is little question
he will look elsewhere).
Ã¢â‚¬â€LB Sam Cowart (veteran provided stability in the middle and likely will
Ã¢â‚¬â€K Paul Edinger (struggled from between 30-to-39 yards but was solid
enough to return).
Ã¢â‚¬â€G Toniu Fonoti (Vikings like his potential but questions about his
weight could cause his exit).
Ã¢â‚¬â€C Melvin Fowler (desire to start could mean he'll go elsewhere).
Ã¢â‚¬â€QB Shaun Hill (third-stringer likely to be let go).
Ã¢â‚¬â€DE Lance Johnstone (pass-rush specialist might get more attractive
Ã¢â‚¬â€LB Keith Newman (proved self as starter and will want some guarantees
he stays in that role).
Ã¢â‚¬â€S Willie Offord (injured most of season, might return at reduced price).
Ã¢â‚¬â€WR Koren Robinson (Vikings reportedly have right to match any offer).
Ã¢â‚¬â€LB Raonall Smith (special teams ace might sign elsewhere if it means
more playing time).
Ã¢â‚¬â€CB Brian Williams (unhappy with being demoted after Fred Smoot was
signed, he will be looking for a starting job in another city).
Ã¢â‚¬â€RB Moe Williams (knee injury landed him on IR and likely ended his career).
Ã¢â‚¬â€C Cory Withrow (backup could find self in old role behind Matt Birk in
FEELING A DRAFT: The Vikings, who finished tied with Dallas, Miami and
San Diego at 9-7, will select 17th in the draft on April 29. Minnesota
likely will be looking for help at running back, on the offensive line
With Michael Bennett almost certain to leave as a free agent, Onterrio
Smith's future uncertain after a one-year suspension and Mewelde Moore's
health always an issue, the first pick could be used on a running back.
Assuming Matt Birk returns after missing the season because of injury,
the Vikings should open the 2006 season with a line that includes Birk
at center, Bryant McKinnie at left tackle and Marcus Johnson at right
tackle. Anthony Herrera finished the season at left guard and could stay
at that spot, but the Vikings also could look to upgrade at the guard spots.
Veteran middle linebacker Sam Cowart will be a free agent, and the
Vikings need to find an eventual replacement for him even if he returns.
MEDICAL WATCH: Rookie P Chris Kluwe will undergo reconstructive surgery
later this month to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his
right (punting) knee suffered Dec. 4 in Detroit. Kluwe, who missed only
one game because of the injury, is confident he will be ready for
QB Daunte Culpepper continues to rehabilitate his surgically repaired
right knee at his home in Orlando, Fla. "He's continuing to progress
right on schedule with things," said Vikings athletic trainer Chuck
Barta, who recently visited Culpepper. "He's gotten past a couple of
hurdles, but it's not around the corner yet. It's going to continue to
be kind of week by week and see where he's at. But he's doing well."
Barta said the plan is to have Culpepper ready by training camp,
although that might be optimistic considering he tore the anterior
cruciate, medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments in his knee
on Oct. 30 at Carolina.
As for other players who finished the season on injured reserve:
Ã¢â‚¬â€C Matt Birk, who underwent surgery to repair the torn labrum in his
left hip in September, continues to rehab.
Ã¢â‚¬â€Rookie S Dustin Fox, who was placed on IR during training camp because
of a broken arm, has recovered.
Ã¢â‚¬â€S Willie Offord (knee), CB Laroni Gallishaw (sprained right ankle), DE
Kenechi Udeze (knee) and G Toniu Fonoti (groin) also are doing well,
according to Barta. Udeze will begin having what Barta calls
"impact-type activity," such as on-the-field running, at the end of this
month. "The impact is going to be a big test for him and how he reacts
to it," Barta said. Both Offord and Fonoti will become unrestricted free
agents in March.