It’s only been a dozen days since the Vikings fired head coach Leslie Frazier, but, in NFL terms, that has been an eternity. Frazier has already found a new job in Tampa Bay and the Vikings are putting the diligence in “due diligence” by taking their time in hiring a new head coach.
Whether the Vikings had any legitimate interest in hiring Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden or not, that opportunity came and went when Washington locked him down as their new head coach.
The Vikings have reportedly wrapped up discussions with five candidates and have expressed an interest in San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman and 49ers defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Those interviews, which could be the last, are expected to take place Saturday in Charlotte, where the 49ers will play the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
The plan as it is currently being laid out is that the Vikings have three finalists that are scheduled to meet with Vikings ownership next week, at which time a decision will be made. The inherent problem with that is that four of the candidates (Roman, Tomsula and Seattle coordinators Darrell Bevell and Dan Quinn) are still coaching in the playoffs and the two teams could well meet in the NFC Championship Game. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman is reported to have met with both Bevell and Quinn, but if the Seahawks go to the Super Bowl, neither would be available (or want to be) for Senior Bowl week – the self-imposed loose deadline announced by Spielman as the time to have a new coaching staff in place. That’s where Roman and Tomsula come in.
Sunday is the last day that a team can speak with a head coaching candidate of a team that won in the wild card round of the playoffs. Once a team is eliminated, teams can speak with their coaches, but the only provision for teams whose coaching staffs make it the Super Bowl is that other teams can conduct second interviews the week after the conference championship games and before Super Bowl Week officially begins. But, in order to have a potential second interview, there has to be a first. Ergo, Spielman and the Vikings ceremonial brass are enjoying the scenery in the Carolinas.
The only two known finalists are Zimmer and Bowles. They have been identified as frontrunners. Bowles was interviewed by Spielman Monday, while Zimmer was interviewed Wednesday. In addition, Cleveland defensive coordinator Ray Horton was interviewed Tuesday. The Vikings asked permission to speak to Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, but, without being in Denver by Sunday, the only way the Vikings can talk to either of them in the coming days is if the top-seeded Broncos lose at home to San Diego, which, given the nine-point Vegas line, doesn’t seem likely.
With all the talk and scuttlebutt concerning the future vision of the Vikings coaching staff, it would appear that, depending how this weekend’s interview goes with Roman, if the Vikings are looking for an offensive-minded head coach and already have two unofficial finalists, both of whom are defensive coordinators, there’s only room for one offensive-schooled coach in the finalist group. With only one spot available (if you believe the speculation), Roman could be that guy. If nothing else, he would appear to be the only current option if the Vikings are looking to revamp and enhance the offense.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.