Vikings Fans Blast Team for Eyebrow-Raising Move in Search for New Coordinator

Minnesota Vikings

Getty Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah (left) and head coach Kevin O'Connell have been mostly quiet so far in free agency.

The Minnesota Vikings raised eyebrows in their search for a new defensive coordinator by making a move that left fans fuming, followed by rejoicing from a single tweet.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on January 25 that the Vikings would interview current assistant coach Mike Pettine for the vacant position — a move that sparked frustration on Twitter due to Pettine’s proximity and potential influence behind the team’s defense that ranked 31st in yards allowed and 28th in scoring.

A defensive-minded coach who was a coordinator for the Green Bay Packers and head coach of the Cleveland Browns, Pettine was speculated to have a say in the defensive philosophy under Ed Donatell that led to Donatell’s ousting after just one season in Minnesota.

For a fan base looking for a transformational change to the defense, sticking with a familiar face in the building brought plenty of frustration.

However, that frustration was tempered by the news that Brian Flores would interview for the position on Thursday, January 26, per Rapoport.

Vikings Fans Blast Team for Mike Pettine Interview

The prevailing criticism surrounding the Pettine interview is the assumption of his influence on the Vikings’ struggling defense.

Another valid criticism has come that if Pettine does offer a unique perspective that could transform the defense, then why wasn’t he considered to take over defensive playcalling or the coordinator position midseason.

“Great we can say we made a change but keep pretty much everything the same,” one fan tweeted. “Pettine either did nothing last year or had some say in that dumpster fire defense either of which is not a great look.”

Another fan found that considering Pettine for his leadership now is an “egregious” move.

Some fans have found that the Pettine interview is just “out of respect.”

Locked on Vikings’ Luke Braun argued “the possibility of pettine was like my argument against a mid-season firing. It solves nothing, upheaves just enough of the structure of the staff, and introduces the same problems all over again on a different bald guy.”

The Vikings’ defensive struggles are akin to what the Green Bay Packers underwent with Pettine when he was Green Bay’s coordinator from 2018 to 2020.

The Viking Age’s Adam Patrick pulled a clip from the Packers’ Fansided site from 2021 that is eerily familiar to the past year with Donatell, calling for Pettine to be fired for his “bend but don’t break” approach and his inability to unleash his playmakers.

“The biggest reason Pettine should lose his job is the numerous light fronts he employs regularly. It’s a staple in his playbook to call three-man rushes and/or soft zone coverages that bleed yards. This has come back to bite the Packers on a number of occasions,” Dairyland Express’ Brian Sampson wrote. “His bend but don’t break strategy is fine for a defense that lacks talent, but Green Bay has several playmakers that were never truly unleashed. Guys like Jaire Alexander, Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos should be unlocked to play more freely.”

The Pettine criticism is valid. While under Rex Ryan, he fielded impressive defenses but has since been uninspiring with the Browns and Packers, ranking at best 13th and in the bottom half of the league in defense DVOA from 2014 to 2020.

Vikings’ 4 Defensive Coordinator Interviews Conclude This Week

The Vikings have confirmed four interviews for their defensive coordinator position that should be finished by the end of this week.

New Orleans Saints co-defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen completed his interview on January 23, followed by former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai on January 24. Nielsen’s interview was intriguing as a 4-3 defensive coordinator, signaling the Vikings may be willing to revert back to their former scheme. Desai is from the Fangio coaching tree and would likely preserve the team’s 3-4 scheme.

Pettine and Flores will round out their current defensive coordinator candidate interviews as the franchise hopes to transition into making roster-building moves through February before free agency begins.

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