Who will replace Mike Zimmer as Vikings head coach? Here are 12 contenders
A list of potential candidates to replace Mike Zimmer as Vikings head coach.
Kellen Moore, Cowboys offensive coordinator
Moore, 33, wasn't much of a quarterback with the Lions and Cowboys, but he's certainly a rising star in the NFL's coaching ranks. In his fourth season as a Dallas assistant and third year as offensive coordinator, the 12-5 Cowboys led the league in scoring (31.2) and yards (407.0).
And, yes, Moore calls the plays. Head coach Mike McCarthy was so impressed by Moore's run/pass balance and creative offensive mind that he kept him as offensive coordinator when he replaced Jason Garrett before last season.
Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs offensive coordinator
The former Vikings running backs coach under Brad Childress is now 52 years old and long overdue for an opportunity to use what he's learned from Andy Reid's tree of football knowledge the last nine years.
No, Bieniemy doesn't call the plays. Reid does. But Doug Pederson didn't call plays for Reid, and he went on to win a Super Bowl with the Eagles. John Harbaugh also went on to win a Super Bowl with Baltimore after serving as Reid's special teams coach in Philadelphia.
Bieniemy has been a creative game-planning influence. In Year 1 with Bieniemy as coordinator, Patrick Mahomes won MVP, went 12-4 and threw for 50 touchdowns and 5,097 yards. In Year 2, the Chiefs won their first Super Bowl in half a century. In Year 3, they made it back to the Super Bowl. This year, they went 12-5, won their sixth straight AFC West title and secured a No. 2 seed.
Twelve NFL teams hired head coaches the past two seasons. Bieniemy interviewed for all 12. It's unclear what impact his legal record from 20-plus years ago has on his head coaching candidacy. He was arrested several times, mostly during his playing days, after altercations or traffic violations.
Doug Pederson, out of football
The 53-year-old Super Bowl champ took a year off from coaching after going 4-11-1 with the Eagles in 2020. Three years earlier, his Eagles stomped the Vikings 38-7 in Philly in the NFC Championship game. That earned them a trip to the Twin Cities, where they beat Tom Brady and the Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium in Super Bowl LII. After winning that Super Bowl, Pederson went 22-25-1 in the regular season and 1-2 in the playoffs.
Todd Bowles, Buccaneers defensive coordinator
Brady wasn't the only TB who played a significant role in Tampa Bay winning last year's Super Bowl. Bowles, the team's 58-year-old defensive coordinator, is the guy who put together the schemes and made the calls that tormented Mahomes and the Chiefs in that Super Bowl beatdown. In his third year as Bucs defensive coordinator, Bowles' unit ranked fifth in fewest points allowed (20.8) as the Bucs went 13-4 and secured the NFC's No. 2 seed.
Bowles went 10-6 as Jets head coach in 2015, but followed up with seasons of 5-11, 5-11 and 4-12. The Vikings have had an older defensive-minded head coach for eight seasons. That means they'll probably go younger and on the offensive side.
Brian Daboll, Bills offensive coordinator
The 46-year-old offensive coordinator deserves a ton of credit for turning Josh Allen into a superstar in the making. Many thought Daboll was on his way to Los Angeles for the Chargers top job when Justin Herbert was coming off his rookie season a year ago.
Besides being an NFL coordinator the last eight seasons, Daboll also coached under Bill Belichick in New England for 11 years and Nick Saban for two years at Michigan State (graduate assistant) and one year at Alabama (offensive coordinator).
Daboll inherited the league's 30th-ranked scoring team in 2018. Buffalo ranked second in scoring last year and third this year en route to an 11-6 record and the AFC's No. 3 seed.
Matt Eberflus, Colts defensive coordinator
The Colts' 51-year-old fourth-year defensive coordinator has been a hot candidate the past few years. His schemes and adjustments have turned heads. So has Indy's four straight top-10 finishes in takeaways, including second this year (33).
But the Colts' AWOL offense didn't do him any favors heading into this year's hiring cycle. Losing to the Jaguars 26-11 in a must-win situation to make the playoffs stings.
Nathaniel Hackett, Packers offensive coordinator
Yes, it's probably on the easier side being a 42-year-old Packers offensive coordinator when your quarterback is Aaron Rodgers. But let's not forget: As Jacksonville's offensive coordinator in 2017, Hackett helped Blake Bortles go 10-6, reach the AFC Championship game and darn near beat the Patriots.
Byron Leftwich, Buccaneers offensive coordinator
The seventh overall pick by the Jaguars in 2003 will be in the mix for the Jaguars job. He's been an offensive coordinator for four seasons, the last three in Tampa and the last two with the G.O.A.T. as his quarterback.
Josh McDaniels, Patriots offensive coordinator
It's hard to believe it's been 12 years since McDaniels was a failed head coach, going 11-17 in Denver from 2009-10. That was the first time he left Belichick's shadow in New England.
He tried again, accepting the Colts job before stiffing them. That makes him a risk to hire, but probably a risk teams are willing to take considering his latest work includes turning rookie Mac Jones into a playoff quarterback.
Dan Quinn, Cowboys defensive coordinator
The 51-year-old is the perfect example of how quickly perceptions change in the NFL. He won a Super Bowl coordinating Seattle's top-ranked defense. That got him the Falcons head coaching job, which led to a 28-3 lead over the Patriots in Super Bowl LI. Of course, that led to an historically painful loss from which Quinn's Falcons never rrecovered. Consecutive 7-9 seasons and an 0-5 start last year got Quinn fired.
A year later, he's a savior in Dallas. The fifth-worst scoring defense under Mike Nolan is now the seventh-best scoring defense under Quinn. The Cowboys also led the league in interceptions and takeaways.
Jim Caldwell, out of football
He's 66 and hasn't coached since 2017. But he also had three winning seasons and two playoff appearances in four seasons as Lions coach. He was 5-3 against Zimmer as Lions coach.
Tony Dungy's longtime offensive assistant took over for Dungy and led the Colts to the Super Bowl during the 2009 season. Three years later, Caldwell won a Super Bowl ring as Baltimore's interim offensive coordinator.
Brian Flores, fired Dolphins head coach
Flores, 40, was perhaps the most surprising Monday firing and the most likely of the fired coaches to appear on candidate lists for other teams. Flores was 25-26 in his first head coaching job after 11 seasons as an assistant under Bill Belichick in New England. He had two consecutive winning seasons, finishing this season 9-8 after starting 1-7, but didn't make the playoffs.
Will the Vikings replace a defensive guru with an offensive mind? Several NFL offensive coordinators might be in the mix.