In other words, while a 5-10-1 team with an uncertain quarterback situation might seem unattractive now, this is the NFL. This year’s dysfunctional mess often becomes next year’s surprisingly well-oiled playoff run.
“I think this is a very attractive job,” Spielman said. “I think when you talk to people on the outside, that the young talent that we do have on this roster, with all the new coming in, the new stadium … I don’t think we’re in a total rebuilding mode.”
Casting a wide net
Known to be a staunchly detail-oriented person, Spielman let it be known Monday that he is casting a wide net for the next Vikings coach. That prompted one player to smile and say: “You know Rick. This could take awhile.”
The goal, as it is for all teams without a coach, is to have a hire in place by the start of the week leading up to the Jan. 25 Senior Bowl. But Spielman has said he won’t be pressured into meeting that deadline.
“I’ve sliced every way you can slice it,” Spielman said. “I’ve looked at 13 different categories where coaches come out of and that can be anything from head coaches that are currently offensive coordinators, former head coaches that are currently defensive coordinators, defensive coordinators [and] offensive coordinators without head coaching experiences, college head coaches with and without NFL coaching experience. So there is a long list of areas that you can look for in a head coach.”
The coaches who are known to have interviewed, are scheduled to interview or are of interest to the Vikings are Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton and Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase.
None has NFL head coaching experience. But that hasn’t proven to be much of an obstacle in recent years.
From the end of the 2007 season until the start of the 2013 season, 41 NFL head coaches were hired. Of those hires, 30 were NFL assistant coaches at the time; 23 of them never had been a head coach at any level, while seven of them had been head coaches at lower levels.
Five were college head coaches, five were former NFL head coaches and one, Bears coach Marc Trestman, was a head coach in the Canadian Football League.
Eight of the 33 coaches hired between 2008 and 2012 have led their new team to multiple playoff appearances. They are: Baltimore’s John Harbaugh (five), Atlanta’s Mike Smith (four), Denver’s John Fox (three), San Francisco’s Jim Harbaugh (three), Seattle’s Pete Carroll (three), the Jets’ Rex Ryan (three), former Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell (two) and current Colts coach Chuck Pagano (two).
Of those eight, only Fox and Carroll had NFL head coaching experience. Fox was the only one to come directly from another NFL head coaching job.
Carroll and Jim Harbaugh were college head coaches, John Harbaugh was an NFL special teams coach, Caldwell was an NFL offensive coordinator hired from within and Smith, Ryan and Pagano were NFL defensive coordinators.
In other words, no wonder Spielman ended up with 13 separate columns while trying to categorize recent NFL coaching history.
No staying power
The two most successful hires since 2008 are the Harbaugh brothers. John’s five playoff appearances with the Ravens have come in six years and include a victory over Jim’s 49ers in last season’s Super Bowl. Jim’s three playoff appearances have come in three consecutive years with an organization that had missed the previous eight playoffs.
Finding a spark in a new coaching hire is difficult. Finding one with staying power is even tougher.