There are primarily two types of change in the NFL: change as a result of success, and change as a result of failure.
The Vikings are about to confront plenty of the former even after falling in the Divisional Round.
Mike Zimmer’s staff will likely look considerably different in 2020 after the expected departures of offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and defensive coordinator George Edwards. Stefanski is set to take the Browns’ head coaching job, while Edwards’ contract expired at the conclusion of the 2019 season, which Zimmer described as “a situation where it’s probably best.” The Vikings are also parting ways with longtime defensive backs coach Jerry Gray, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported, per a source informed.
Stefanski’s replacement will be the hottest topic related to staff changes, as it’s possible veteran coach Gary Kubiak, who helped guide Stefanski in reshaping Minnesota’s offense in 2019, could take the job. Kubiak’s son, Vikings quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak, might also be a candidate for the job if he isn’t lured to Cleveland by Stefanski. Zimmer declined to offer insight on what he and Gary Kubiak might have discussed regarding the job, adding the two will “discuss it a little bit more at another time.”
“Right now, it’s a little early so we’re going through the process of all that and we’ll determine that as we go,” Zimmer said of possibly looking internally to find Stefanski’s replacement. “So I haven’t made any determinations yet. Obviously we’ve talked about it a little bit and we’ll kind of go from there.”
As for Edwards’ replacement, Zimmer stressed a need to step away from football in general in order to process his team’s disappointing postseason loss before evaluating and identifying candidates for the position.
That was the theme of Monday’s media session with the coach, who was also noncommittal on a long-term plan for quarterback Kirk Cousins, but did say he felt Cousins was a better version of himself in 2019.
“I think Kirk [Cousins] played a lot better this year than he did the year before,” Zimmer said. “I think obviously the scheme helped quite a bit and so I think, yeah, this may have been his best year he’s played in the NFL.”
While vague, Zimmer left a bread crumb or two for those trying to project who might be communicating in the quarterback’s radio in 2020.
“It will be the same the system,” Zimmer said of Minnesota’s offensive future with Cousins. “Obviously he’s going to have a new offensive coordinator — his fifth one in five years I think he told me yesterday or at least what’s in his ear on game day. There’s nothing I can do about that. But I think it’s important not just for Kirk but the entire offense to have the same system, the same calls, things like that so they come in here and it’s not completely foreign to them.”
That sure sounds like Zimmer would like to keep things consistent offensively, though we’ll have to wait to see how he decides to fill the open coordinator position. As for his own long-term status, Zimmer is content with letting things play out.
“First of all — like I said a couple of weeks ago when we were talking about this — I love these players, this organization and the owners have been outstanding to me so I believe there will be conversations here in the near future and whatever happens, I’m happy with it,” the coach said.