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Vikings Interview 4th Defensive Coordinator Candidate

Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine during practice at Clarke Hinkle Field on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 in Ashwaubenon, Wis. © Adam Wesley/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wis.

The 2022 Minnesota Vikings ranked 31st in yards allowed to opponents, 30th in points allowed, and 27th in defensive DVOA, so the team is searching for a new defensive coordinator after parting ways with Ed Donatell last week.

So far, the team has spoken with (or will speak to) Sean Desai (Seattle Seahawks), Brian Flores (Pittsburgh Steelers), and Ryan Nielsen (New Orleans Saints).

Vikings Interview 4th Defensive Coordinator Candidate

Additionally, on Wednesday, Minnesota added a fourth name to the mix, a familiar name — Mike Pettine.

Vikings Interview 4th
Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is shown Monday, August 24, 2020, during the team’s training camp at Ray Nitschke Field. © Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

NFL Network‘s Ian Rapoport tweeted the news, “The Vikings are interviewing Mike Pettine, the former Packers DC and current assistant head coach, for their vacant DC job, source said. Brian Flores, the Steelers senior defensive assistant and LBs coach, has his Minnesota interview tomorrow.”

Pettine is familiar because he worked for the 2022 Vikings and the aforementioned Donatell as assistant head coach. He entered the NFL in 2002 as an assistant on the Baltimore Ravens staff (2002-2005) and has worked for the New York Jets (DC, 2009-2012), Buffalo Bills (DC, 2013), Cleveland Browns (HC, 2014-2015), Seattle Seahawks (consultant, 2017), Green Bay Packers (DC, 2018-2020), Chicago Bears (senior assistant, 2021), and of course, Vikings (2022).

Vikings May Have Potential DC Replacement Already in the Building
Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is shown before their game against the Oakland Raiders Sunday, October 21, 2019, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, © Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal S, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

The 56-year-old was even the Browns head coach from 2014 to 2015. Here’s a look at his resume to date:

Mike Pettine Defenses,
via DVOA,
NFL Ranking:

2009, Jets DC = 1st
2010, Jets DC = 6th
2011, Jets DC = 2nd
2012, Jets DC = 10th
2013, Bills DC = 4th
2014, Browns HC = 13th
2015, Browns HC = 30th
2018, Packers DC = 29th
2019, Packers DC = 15th
2020, Packers DC = 17th

With Pettine as defensive coordinator, teams have reached conference championships four times, with the Jets in 2009 and 2010 and the Packers in 2019 and 2020.

For now, Pettine is the sole “in-house” candidate, as the Vikings seemed to have preferred a new approach on defense, interviewing Desai, Flores, and Nielsen. None of those men have ties to the Vikings like Pettine’s 2022 contribution to Kevin O’Connell’s staff.

Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine speaks to media on Feb. 18, 2019, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. © Sarah Kloepping/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wis.

Minnesota won’t have any upheaval at offensive coordinator in 2023, with O’Connell as the playcaller and Wes Phillips staying put. Phillips was reportedly asked to interview for the Los Angeles Chargers offensive coordinator gig but declined because of a “building something special” mindset in Minnesota.

Other Vikings coaches — Keenan McCardell (Patriots, Buccaneers), Jerrod Johnson (Chargers), Brian Angelichio (Ravens) — are getting attention around the league for OC positions.

From 2014 to 2019, the Vikings defense ranked first in the NFL per EPA/Play. But in the three years after, 2020 to 2022, that side of the ball has fallen to 20th.

As mentioned above by Rapoport, the Vikings will formally interview Brian Flores on Thursday.


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Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.


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