Rival Coach Among Vikings’ Early Head Coach Candidates, NFL Insider Says

Nathaniel Hackett

Getty Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett is among the early head coach candidates for the Vikings, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler says.

The Minnesota Vikings‘ search for a new regime has intensified with an early list of executive interviews leaked this week.

Following the signing of a new general manager, the Vikings will amplify their efforts to find the next head coach.

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Credible reports of Minnesota’s interest in head coaches have been sparse, besides a leak that the Vikings have already scheduled an interview with former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson.

ESPN insider Jeremy Fowler’s expectations of an interview with Pederson were correct. If Fowler’s information is accurate again, another head-coach candidate from across the Minnesota border could soon be confirmed.

Fowler: Packers Coach Among Early Candidates

While there’s anticipation for an answer at both roles quickly with many pending decisions on player personnel, Vikings president Mark Wilf maintained that ownership would take its time.

“We’re not going to get caught up in any kind of frenzies in terms of chasing this one or that one,” Wilf said, per Vikings.com. “We’re going to be deliberate, we’re going to be thorough and we’re going to get the kind of leaders that our players will want to follow and that will get us success on and off the field. That’s how we’re approaching it.”

In a recent ESPN article, Fowler and Dan Graziano broke down the Vikings’ early search for new leadership, naming Pederson and Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as early head-coach candidates.

Fowler: The Vikings are just getting off the ground. They’ve started with a massive list of candidates for each position and are in the process of whittling it down. The early feeling is that they want a coach who relates well to the locker room and can adapt to personnel, particularly on defense. For as good as the defense had been under Zimmer traditionally, melding younger draft picks with the veterans didn’t work last year. This is no longer the 2016 attack. There will be changes to account for that. And Eric Kendricks’ recent comment to the media about a “fear-based organization” was telling. The Vikings need a coach who will build players up.

Graziano: … This one’s tough to get a handle on right now because they do seem to be incredibly early in their candidate-sorting process.

Fowler: Yep. Wednesday should create some traction, as I expect Minnesota to start requesting interviews for GMs and head coaches very soon. I’m expecting Nathaniel Hackett and Doug Pederson to be on the early lists, but nothing is finalized yet.

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Hackett’s Consideration for HC’ Overdue’

Hackett has been among several NFL head coach rumors, which Aaron Rodgers said is “overdue.”

“This is a little overdue, to be honest,” Rodgers said Tuesday on The Pat McAfee Show. “He’s been around the game a long time. What he did in Jacksonville, I think, was pure magic, getting them within a quarter of the Super Bowl. He’s a great coach. I love spending time with him. He’s a fantastic teacher. He’s incredible in front of the room.”

The son of former NFL assistant Paul Hackett (who won a Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers) Nathaniel spent four seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2015-18. He guided a Blake Bortles-led Jaguars team to the 2017 AFC title game before Doug Marrone and his coaching staff were fired in 2018. Hackett landed with the Packers in 2019.

Hackett, 42, has quickly won over the Packers locker room with his unconventional yet infectious teaching style — one that’s even won over Aaron Rodgers.

“I think one of the pre-reqs to being a good head coach is presence in front of a room. You have to have a unique charisma and an ability to captivate your audience. Part of that captivation is in the way you talk, your cadence, your inflection, storytelling ability. I think those are underrated qualities that a coach can have. Nate has all those things,” Rodgers said, per Madison.com. “He’s been around football a long time. His dad obviously is one of the legendary coaches of this profession. So he has the pedigree, but his presence. He brings such a great positive energy to a room.

“I think any team would be lucky to have him in their squad.”

Hackett has interviews scheduled with the Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

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