In a move that is commonplace and doesn’t make a ton of headlines, the Vikings prevented quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski from interviewing to become the new offensive coordinator of the New York Giants.
Stefanski, the respected 35-year-old position coach, was the frontrunner to follow Pat Shurmur to the Giants as his top offensive assistant, a league source told the Star Tribune. As ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported over the weekend, the Vikings blocked the Giants from the interview.
In the long run the Vikings can alter his eventual promotion, at best. Coaching turnover can be as frequent as the NFL’s roster churns, so the opportunity will be there if Stefanski keeps making a strong case.
The Vikings did the same after the 2015 season to running backs coach Kirby Wilson, who needed to wait 10 days until after the season when his contract expired to interview and accept a promotion to run game coordinator in Cleveland.
Teams throw up the block fairly frequently. Last month, the Lions reportedly angled the exit of outgoing defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. Detroit blocked the Packers from interviewing Austin, while allowing the Bengals. He’s now Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator.
Also last month, the 49ers reportedly prevented the Titans from interviewing a rising young coach in DeMeco Ryans, who only has one season down as a defensive quality control coach. The Eagles also reportedly prevented the Texans from interviewing Joe Douglas, VP of Player Personnel, a year after Philadelphia blocked the Jets from interviewing John DeFillippo for its open offensive coordinator job.
NFL teams can’t block head-coaching interviews, so DeFillippo’s sitdowns with the Bears and Cardinals last month circumvented his own team. The Eagles then decided to grant the Vikings permission to interview DeFillippo, who was hired last week as Shurmur’s replacement in Minnesota.
It doesn’t take the sting away for Stefanski.
The Vikings’ longest-tenured coach, Stefanski, started as Brad Childress’ office assistant in 2006 and worked his way up to quarterbacks coach. He deserves an opportunity like the Giants offensive coordinator job, one that would’ve put him in a prominent position of a New York spotlight if not the ability to call plays.
Timing is pivotal, too. It’s unclear if any other organizations were in line to interview Stefanski for coordinator openings. His stock was pretty high after Case Keenum’s 14-win season, and soared in New York once Shurmur was hired. But the Vikings and head coach Mike Zimmer are making him wait for another shot.
The Vikings offer a solid foundation, albeit for one huge question mark under Stefanski’s nose at quarterback, for which the coach to make another case for a promotion.
Like Wilson before him, Stefanski can let the expiration date come on his contract, which for most NFL assistants aren’t very long. The educated guess here is Stefanski’s contract could be up after next season given the penchant for two-year assistant deals like DeFillippo’s.