Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Vikings' strange search for defensive coordinator still not done

Posted by: under Quarterbacks, Vikings, Leslie Frazier, Vikings defense, Jared Allen, Leslie Frazier Updated: January 12, 2012 - 11:08 PM

Mel Tucker is staying put in Jacksonville. Simple as that.

Interviewed earlier this week as a potential candidate to become the Vikings' new defensive coordinator, Tucker has instead opted to remain in the same role with the Jaguars, uniting with new Jacksonville head coach Mike Mularkey.

Mularkey was hired by the Jaguars on Tuesday night and wasted little time in his efforts to retain Tucker. And for Tucker the reasons to stay put ultimately outweighed the chance to take on a new opportunity in the Twin Cities. After all, he has greater familiarity with the Jaguars' personnel and will most likely be allowed to continue building on the system he has installed in Jacksonville. This past season, the Jaguars ranked sixth in the NFL in total defense.

So where does that leave the Vikings? On Wednesday, we detailed the five known people associated with the team's defensive coordinator "opening." And that's in quotes because technically Fred Pagac (one of the five names) hasn't been relieved of that role officially yet.

But you can cross Tucker off the list. And Raheem Morris, interviewed by the Vikings last Friday, has also taken a new job, hired Wednesday to be the defensive backs coach in Washington.

So who's left? The Vikings reportedly have shown interest in Steve Spagnuolo, who was fired from his position as Rams head coach last week. But there have been numerous reports indicating that Spagnuolo could be more likely to return to Philadelphia to work under Andy Reid.

So that would seemingly bring the wheel back around to Pagac or current Vikings linebackers coach Mike Singletary.

The idea of the Vikings deciding to retain Pagac as defensive coordinator seems far-fetched at this point and would leave head coach Leslie Frazier with egg on his face after interviewing others for the position.

Singletary will likely get very serious consideration. He is, after all, a longtime close friend of Frazier's, whose hiring last year had many figuring he could ultimately be in line for a promotion. Still, it is worth noting again that Singletary has never been a defensive coordinator before. And his only head coaching stint resulted in an 18-22 record in San Francisco before he was fired late in the 2010 season.

Following a 3-13 season, Frazier said he wouldn't hide from the need to make changes. And certainly the Vikings have plenty of holes to plug on defense, after allowing 28.1 points per game (second worst in the NFL) and 358.2 yards per game (21st overall) while allowing opposing quarterbacks to post an astounding 107.6 rating.

To this point, only defensive line coach Karl Dunbar has been dismissed, a move that proved somewhat surprising given his unit's solid production throughout the season.

At this point, almost no one expects Pagac to retain his spot as defensive coordinator given how Frazier has gone out in hot pursuit of replacements. But that's not to say Pagac's dismissal is being rooted for on all fronts. Jared Allen was vocal in his support of Pagac the day after the season ended. Other players have said Pagac's first year as defensive coordinator was far from smooth but not quite as rocky as it was made out to be at times.

For one thing, the injuries that plagued the Vikings defense stifled Pagac's chances to give his unit a true identity.

Singletary? Players readily acknowledge his passion and desire to coach with a hard-nosed, old-school edge. His intentions are not questioned. But there still is some question as to how his coaching methods would translate were he to land the coordinator's role.

 

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