As my colleague Sid Hartman reported yesterday afternoon, the Vikings have already found a replacement for outgoing offensive line coach Jeff Davidson. It will be former Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano.
So what exactly will the Vikings be getting in Sparano?
Sparano is perhaps best known for his four-year stint in Miami. In his first season, the Dolphins debuted the Wildcat offense in a memorable win over the stunned Patriots and went on to win the AFC East that season.
After being fired there in 2011, Sparano went back to being an offensive line coach, a role in which he is respected in NFL circles. It is worth noting, though, the Jets fired him after one year in that role in 2012.
Sparano spent the 2013 and 2014 seasons as the offensive line coach for the Raiders, and he was tabbed as the interim coach early in 2014 after Dennis Allen got fired. Last year, he coached tight ends for the 49ers.
Like coach Mike Zimmer, Sparano comes from the Bill Parcells coaching tree. The two were on Parcells' coaching staff together from 2003-2006. And Parcells ran the show in Miami when the Dolphins hired Sparano.
Sparano's units have had mixed results over the years based on metrics from Football Outsiders. Only three times has a Sparano-coached team ranked in the top half of the NFL in both run blocking and pass protection in their metrics. His offensive lines usually fared better in run blocking.
Zimmer made it clear in Tuesday's season-ending press conference that the offense needs to be better next season, specifically up front. Last season, the Vikings under Davidson ranked 10th and 29th in run blocking and pass protection, respectively, in Football Outsiders' offensive line metrics.