The Minnesota Vikings are in limbo at the offensive coordinator position.
Gary Kubiak, believed to be leaning toward retirement, has yet to announce his resignation — leaving the Vikings to watch other teams hire some of the sharpest offensive minds in the league.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported that an offensive coach weighed in on Minnesota’s possible offensive coordinator vacancy and said it could be a tough job to fill with a quality external candidate. After barely missing the playoffs with a 7-9 record in what’s been considered a rebuilding season, expectations will be the postseason in 2021 given the talent on the Vikings roster.
“Coach Mike Zimmer will be under pressure to win next year, and a bad season could result in everyone getting fired. That’s a lot of extra pressure on a new offensive coordinator,” Florio wrote.
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Vikings Could Already Have Their New Offensive Coordinator
The potential of Kubiak’s departure is not a sign of anything wrong internally with the Vikings or the offense. Minnesota finished in the top 10 for total yards for the first time since 2009.
Kubiak, 59, has had a string of health issues over the past decade, which has led him to consider retiring for the second time in his career — a decision coach Mike Zimmer respects.
“I know he’s had some health issues in the past, and I think it’s always good to take some time to think about where you’re at mentally and physically,” Zimmer said. “Obviously, this year was a major mental and physical drain on all of us … so we’ll just see how that unfolds as we move forward. But he’s the best I’ve ever been around. Great person, terrific coach.”
Florio reported that Kubiak’s son, quarterback coach Klint Kubiak, is a favorite to be promoted to offensive coordinator, signaling the Vikings aim to preserve the zone running, play-action scheme Gary Kubiak has helped install over the past two seasons.
The silence surrounding Kubiak’s retirement has led to speculation that they move back into a subsidiary role like offensive advisor — which he held in 2019 with Kevin Stefanski at the helm of the offense — making for minimal changes to the offensive scheme.
“Let’s not deal with what-ifs yet. Let’s wait and see what happens. Then, we can figure all that stuff out,” Zimmer said. “But I will say this: I love the scheme that we’re running offensively, I love the wide zone offense, I love the play-action passes. All those things.”
Vikings Stars Had Career Years
Cousins steered the ship right after leading the league in interceptions at the bye week. While the 1-5 start proved to be the detriment to Minnesota’s season, Cousins and his weapons produced several exceptional metrics and momentum heading into 2021:
- Justin Jefferson broke the Super Bowl-era record for the most receiving yards by a rookie (1,400).
- Adam Thielen posted a career-high 14 receiving touchdowns that ranked third in the league.
- Dalvin Cook tied for third with 17 total TDs and a career-high 1,918 yards from scrimmage.
- Cousins threw 24 TDs and only three interceptions in the final 10 games of the season, finishing with a career-best 35 passing touchdowns.
The offense posted the fourth-most yards in the league this season (6,292) but turned in the 11th-most points (430) due to turnovers and starting with poor field position.
ESPN’s Courtney Cronin wrote that the Vikings’ biggest takeaway from this season is figuring out how to get this type of play out of Cousins again.
“Cousins is not standing in the way of the Vikings reaching their playoff goals,” she said. “His success, however, hinges on an improved offensive line and the resurgence of a rebuilding defense.”
Improving the offensive line’s pass protection will be a point of emphasis this offseason after the unit finished with the league’s third-worst pass-blocking grade (55.5) by Pro Football Focus.
Meanwhile, Minnesota must bounce back from finishing with the league’s worst pass rush if the defense will be anything other than a liability next season.
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Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.