The Vikings finalized their 2020 coaching staff on Monday, splitting defensive coordinator duties between Mike Zimmer’s son and one of his closest colleagues.
The team announced defensive line coach Andre Patterson and linebackers coach Adam Zimmer will be co-defensive coordinators in 2020. They replace former defensive coordinator George Edwards, who left to join the Dallas Cowboys’ staff.
Patterson, 59, and Adam Zimmer, 36, will continue to work with their position groups.
It remains to be seen how much significance the promotions of Patterson and Adam Zimmer carry, given Mike Zimmer’s hands-on role as defensive architect and play-caller. But sources inside and outside the team expected the Vikings would either give the younger Zimmer the job or split it between him and Patterson, the only defensive coaches who remain from Zimmer’s original staff in Minnesota.
In the end, the Vikings chose an arrangement that kept them from shuffling more position coach responsibilities on a defensive staff that will see substantive changes for the first time since Mike Zimmer replaced Leslie Frazier as head coach six years ago.
Adam Zimmer, linebackers coach since 2014, had his first player receive All-Pro honors after the 2019 season when Eric Kendricks made the first team. Patterson, whose relationship with Zimmer dates to their time together at Weber State in the late 1980s, has coached second-team All-Pro defensive ends Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen.
The team officially confirmed Gary Kubiak as its new offensive coordinator, and moved assistant offensive line coach Andrew Janocko to wide receivers coach.
The Vikings also hired former Broncos and Redskins coach Phil Rauscher — who had worked with Kubiak in Denver — to be assistant offensive line coach, and made former Dolphins and Bengals coach Daronte Jones their new defensive backs coach.
Assistant defensive backs coach Jeff Howard, who had been with the team since 2013, is no longer listed as one of the Vikings’ coaches — meaning the team’s secondary will be under completely different leadership after an uneven 2019 season. Jones, who spent two seasons apiece with the Dolphins and Bengals, will inherit a position group that could be in for big changes with Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander headed for free agency, Mike Hughes recovering from a broken neck vertebrae and Xavier Rhodes facing an uncertain future.
The Vikings’ defensive staff had remained largely untouched through Zimmer’s six seasons. But expiring contracts for several coaches, after a season where the team’s passing defense slipped to 15th in the league, meant changes could be in store for a group that had embodied consistency.
While Kubiak will assume play-calling duties for the first time since he was the Broncos’ head coach in 2015-16, changes on the team’s offensive staff largely amounted to putting familiar faces in new positions. Janocko will work with wide receivers for the first time since the 2013 season, when he was an offensive assistant under coach Greg Schiano in Tampa Bay. Rauscher worked on Kubiak’s staffs in Denver in 2015 and 2016, staying on in 2017 after Kubiak stepped down and spending the 2018 and 2019 seasons in Washington.