When the Vikings get back on the practice field in Eagan this spring, they’ll do so with the one coach on their staff who can call their location of their former practice facility — Eden Prairie — his hometown.
The Vikings are hiring former Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing as a senior offensive assistant, according to a league source. Downing, who was let go by the Raiders when Jon Gruden became the team’s new head coach in January, returns to the team that gave him his first job in the NFL.
The 37-year-old, who was an assistant coach at Eden Prairie High School in 1999 and 2000, went from there to a role on former Vikings coach Mike Tice’s offensive staff, holding three different titles from 2001-05. He worked for the Rams and the Lions after that, becoming a quarterbacks coach for the first time in 2011, and after spending 2014 as the Bills’ quarterbacks coach, he replaced new Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo as the Raiders’ QB coach in 2015.
His work with Derek Carr won him widespread praise in 2016, and Oakland made Downing its offensive coordinator in 2017, as the 37-year-old replaced former Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. Under Downing, the Raiders’ offense ranked 17th in the NFL in yards and 23rd in points last season.
The additions of Downing and DeFilippo, as well as the Vikings’ decision not to let quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski interview for the New York Giants’ offensive coordinator opening, means the team will have an infusion of youth among its most prominent voices in the passing game next season; DeFilippo, who turns 40 on April 12, is the oldest of the three coaches.