Could Vikings’ OC Be Next GB Coach?
Nobody is talking much about this now but how the Vikings offense performs in the remaining games could have a lot to do with the immediate future of John DeFilippo.
Minnesota’s first-year offensive coordinator has been prominently mentioned this fall for a head NFL coaching job next season. The Vikings’ offense, though, has sputtered with the run game and been inconsistent with the pass. At times the team’s head coach, Mike Zimmer, has more than hinted that his offense needs to run the ball more, and run it better.
Both Zimmer and DeFilippo know the offense is held back by a substandard offensive line, particularly lacking efficiency in the interior. First-year quarterback Kirk Cousins has been on and off, with critics claiming he needs to process faster what is happening on the field, and thereby connecting better with receivers, throwing the ball away when needed, and even executing an occasional scramble or straight line run.
The Vikings rank 16th in the 32-team NFL in yards per game at 360.9. Cousins has thrown for 3,490 yards, sixth best in the league. Wide receiver Adam Thielen ranks No. 2 in reception yards with 1,166. This an offense that has had its highlights including six times scoring 24 points or more, and twice topping 35 as the team has compiled a 6-5-1 record.
Fox analyst Troy Aikman, the former Super Bowl winning quarterback with the Cowboys, gave a shout-out to DeFilippo during last Sunday’s Vikings-Patriots game. Aikman and broadcast partner Joe Buck were delivering news that Green Bay’s longtime head coach, Mike McCarthy, had just been fired.
Aikman referred to the 40-year-old DeFilippo as a “great young mind.” Then Aikman referenced how DeFilippo could fit with a young quarterback, or perhaps a veteran like Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, and perhaps approach the offensive fireworks of the 11-1 L. A. Rams. They are among the NFL leaders in both passing and rushing, ranking second in the league in yards per game at 439.9 under the direction of 32-year-old head coach Sean McVay.
“… I think John DeFilippo is worth taking a look at,” Aikman said Sunday in regard to the Packers opening, and the franchise that is Minnesota’s biggest rival.
Internet stories identify DeFilippo as a favorite for the Green Bay job. A 247Sports article Monday by Brian Jones had DeFilippo listed first among possible candidates. The next favorites were Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Dolphins head coach Adam Gase and University of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh.
In a SI.com article last month mentioning names to watch for NFL head coaching jobs in 2019, DeFilippo was described as the “safest bet on this list to be leading an NFL sideline next season.”
The Sports Illustrated article by Jenny Vrentas referred to his success in 2016 and 2017 with the Eagles where he was the quarterbacks coach, and his impact on Carson Wentz and Nick Foles. This season the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles have regressed without DeFilippo and offensive coordinator Frank Reich, now with the Colts.
That 2018 Super Bowl experience should add “esteem” to DeFilippo’s resume, according to S.I. who seems to believe the former James Madison college quarterback is overdue for a head job. “DeFilippo interviewed for the Bears and Cardinals jobs last offseason, and the 49ers vacancy three years ago,” Vrentas wrote.
Before joining the Eagles, DeFilippo was the Browns’ offensive coordinator and he has solid NFL experience dating back more than 10 years. He has worked for several head coaches in the league including Zimmer.
“What I love about Coach Zim is that he’s the same guy every day,” DeFilippo said answering a question from Sports Headliners last week. “He’s knows what he believes in and he holds those values true to himself, the staff, and our team.”
Vikings center Pat Elflein raves about his offensive coordinator. “He coaches with a lot of emotion, very passionate. Loves the game, loves his players, his coaches. He treats everyone with respect and he is always bringing ‘juice.’ He’s always has a lot of emotion behind what he is preaching.”
What about DeFilippo’s football know-how? “He is very knowledgeable about offense,” Elflein said. “He always has a plan for worst case scenarios, (and) best case scenarios. He is always getting us in the right position, so he’s very knowledgeable about all that.”