Coach Candidate Has Change of Heart, Ditches Vikings for AFC: Report

Ziggy Wilf

Getty Ziggy Wilf

The Minnesota Vikings had their new secondary coach lined up, but a sudden change of heart has left that spot vacant once again.

“Plot twist: Former #Bears secondary coach Deseha Townsend — who appeared set to join the #Vikings staff — is now expected to land with the #Jaguars under Doug Pederson, sources say,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on February 13. “No deal was signed in MIN and Townsend had a change of heart. An announcement will come this week.”

Townsend has 13 years of NFL experience as a former cornerback and another 11 years as a coach, making him a strong option for the new coaching staff. No further reports have been released on what happened.

Meanwhile, Minnesota’s secondary remains one of the highest priority areas of improvement for the team in this upcoming season.

The Vikings made several reported hires over the weekend. While Townsend’s is a cautionary tale of the coaching hiring process, Heavy on Vikings has accounted for the expected coaching staff that should begin seeing official hirings later this week after an introductory press conference with head coach Kevin O’Connell on Thursday.

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New Hires on Offense

Head coach: Kevin O’Connell (unofficial)

Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell is expected to take his spot at the team’s helm after winning a Super Bowl ring with the Rams last Sunday. O’Connell, 36, is scheduled to have an introductory press conference on Thursday.

Offensive coordinator: Wes Phillips (unofficial)

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on February 13 that O’Connell is expected to take Rams tight ends coach/passing game coordinator Wes Phillips with him to Minnesota. Phillips, 43, is the son of NFL defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and a former college quarterback. He has 25 years of NFL coaching experience and has worked with O’Connell for four of the past five seasons in Washington and Los Angeles. He should help with a potential install of Sean McVay’s offense with the Vikings.

Assistant to quarterbacks coach: Jerrod Johnson (unofficial)

Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson reported on February 14 that Indianapolis Colts offensive quality control coach Jerrod Johnson is expected to be joining the Vikings as an assistant to the new quarterbacks coach, a position currently vacant. Johnson, 33, is a former Texas A&M quarterback and is the coach of the Elite 11 program, designed to develop the top high school quarterbacks in the country annually.

Other notable updates: Vikings wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell has been retained after several players lobbied for McCardell.

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New Hires on Defense

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported on Wednesday, February 9, that Minnesota is moving in on veteran defensive coach Ed Donatell, who spent the past two seasons as defensive coordinator with the Denver Broncos and was in line to become a senior defensive assistant with the Seattle Seahawks.

“Ed Donatell has emerged as the favorite or the Vikings defensive coordinator position, sources tell @DanGrazianoESPN and me,” Fowler tweeted. “Seattle – which was hiring him as a defensive assistant – is now bracing to lose him. New coach Kevin O’Connell getting plenty of experience on defense.”

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that the Vikings are expected to hire Mike Pettine in a senior defensive advisor role.

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