Minnesota Vikings president Mark Wilf told local media on Monday that the team would be deliberate in its search for a new head coach and was not worried about other teams securing head coaching candidates early in the offseason.
But that hasn’t stopped the Vikings from hopping on the interview train with many other teams this offseason, most recently scheduling a meeting with one of the NFL’s top candidates.
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Vikings to Interview Man Behind Team’s Super Bowl Demise
CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported that former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson “is scheduling interview with Bears and will end up interviewing with the Vikings and Broncos as well. Already met with Jacksonville.”
While Pederson has interviews with a bevy of teams, the Vikings job has been considered the best availability in the league.
The #Vikings are going to be the best job opening for both GM and HC and I’m not sure it’s close,” Pro Football Focus senior analyst Eric Eager tweeted.
Pederson won a Super Bowl with the Eagles in 2017, the season Philadelphia dispatched a 14-3 Vikings team coming off the Minneapolis Miracle in the NFC Championship game. The former NFL quarterback and offensive guru did so with a backup quarterback in Nick Foles after Carson Wentz suffered a torn ACL in the regular season.
Pederson is arguably the most accomplished head-coach candidate this offseason, given his pedigree. Pederson brought the Eagles to the playoffs three times in his five seasons in Philadelphia, finishing with a 46-39-1 overall record as a head coach.
Pederson played quarterback under Andy Reid in Philadelphia and eventually followed his former coach to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he served as offensive coordinator. After starting the 2015 season 1-5, Reid handed Pederson the play-calling duties, and the Chiefs went on to win their final 10 games, making him a prime head coach candidate in 2016.
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Pederson Fired After Controversial Tanking Allegations
Pederson was fired last offseason after being accused of throwing the Eagles’ season finale against Washington to improve the team’s draft pick for the upcoming 2021 draft. Pederson pulled rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts in the fourth quarter for third-stringer Nate Sudfeld with the Eagles down by only three points, leading to an eventual 20-14 loss.
Some of his players even went after him during the game, including two defensive players who had to be held back on the sidelines, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Pederson was fired a week later.
Despite the controversial move, Pederson has been regarded as the “ultimate players coach” while still holding a fatherly accountability in the building.
The Inquirer praised Pederson for his “emotional intelligence” during the Super Bowl honeymoon 2018 season. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie also echoed the sentiment of Pederson’s emotional intelligence upon his hiring in 2016.
However, Pederson isn’t perfect and his handling of the team’s 2020 regular-season finale was his last straw in Philadelphia.
“Since his hiring, Pederson has faced several tricky issues. He might not always do the right thing, and the scale slides from player to player,” Inquirer columnist Marcus Hayes wrote. “But Pederson always acts with his heart.”
When Jason Peters and Derek Barnett missed a game against New Orleans Saints due to personal matters. Despite being blown out by 41 points that game, Pederson publicly didn’t hold their absences against them and took ownership of the loss.
“It’s one thing to, I think, lose a football game, but life goes on outside of this building,” Pederson said, per the Inquirer. “What you see with wildfires and shootings, and what life has sort of — what our lives are now, it puts things into perspective. And so, yeah, we know we didn’t play well [in New Orleans]. But you know what? We have players on this team that their lives are affected by having family members around the country that have to go through life struggles.
“I know I’m kind of going off on a tangent,” he added, “but it’s just a football game. We do everything we can to win the game, but life is a lot more important than winning a football game.”
In 2016, receiver Nelson Agholor dealt with a lack of confidence that led Pederson, who once described himself as “the father of the house,” to bench Agholor.
“He was fatherly, and brotherly,” Agholor said, per the Inquirer, “Just family-oriented. That’s his whole M.O. He’s a family-oriented man. He definitely has the ability to sympathize with players going through things. That’s respected.”
Hayes added that Pederson’s ability to connect and empathize with his players back in 2016 is what led to their success and him not losing those players on their Super Bowl run the next here.
The Vikings organization, from Wilf to their players, touted the same three traits they’re looking for in their future coach: “a strong leader, strong communicator and a strong collaborator.”
Pederson could fit the bill.