After Sunday night’s debacle at Lambeau Field, demand for top-down organizational change continues to circulate among Minnesota Vikings fans. After losing 37-10 to the Green Bay Packers, Week 17 was the 13th time the Minnesota defense has allowed more than 30 points since the start of last season. In two games this season, the Vikings have allowed the Packers 68 points and 968 yards. Overall, Minnesota ranks 31st in allowed yards. And for a franchise run by a defensive-minded head coach, it’s hard to argue that change isn’t necessary after these recurring woes.
While the disappointment of another unsuccessful season certainly stings – especially when the loyal Skoldiers are ready for a potential rebuild – the Vikings are in a desirable position among teams facing potential head coach changes. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell last week named Minnesota as the top destination for incoming head coaches.
Make no mistake about it; There are areas the property needs to address in order for the Vikings to be taken seriously as NFC contenders. But with a list that includes Justin jefferson, Dalvin cook, Adam thielen, Kirk’s cousins, Danielle Hunter, Eric kendricks, and Harrison smith, that’s about as good a core as any potential new head coach could ask for.
With the Wilfs currently at an organizational crossroads on the road, it goes without saying that the decision-making process over the next several weeks will be critical. And with the NFL experiencing a league-wide shift to the offensive side of the ball, most Vikings fans seem to be hoping their team will follow suit, prioritizing the offense with a potential replacement for Mike Zimmer.
With Jefferson solidifying his status as one of the league’s biggest and brightest stars, Skoliders can’t help but feel jaded after watching other superstar receivers. Randy Moss, Percy Harvin, and Stefon Diggs thrive elsewhere after their great outings from Minneapolis.
But instead of living in our fears, what if the Wilfs recognize Jefferson as the Viking roster’s most important player? What if they decide that the future of the franchise will be directly tied to who can bring out the best in their young receiver? After seeing the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals emerge as division winners following the additions of Diggs and rookie Ja’Marr Chase, the league has never been better positioned to win games by prioritizing the best away playmakers.
Let’s take a look at a potential plan the Wilfs could use if they decide to move all-in on Jefferson.
Managing Director: Jeff Ireland
Ireland is currently Deputy GM and Director of College Recruitment for the New Orleans Saints – a position he has held since 2015. Ireland previously served as GM of the Miami Dolphins from 2008 to 2013. Alongside the Director General Mickey Loomis, Ireland were instrumental in the Saints’ selection of the following players:
- Andrus peat – Guard (Pro Bowler 2018-20)
- Michel thomas – Wide Receiver (2019 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, 2018-19 All-Pro First Team)
- Marshon Lattimore – Cornerback (2017 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, 2017 Pro Bowler, 2019-21)
- Ryan ramczyk – Offensive tackle (First-Team All-Pro 2019, Second-Team All-Pro 2018 & 2020)
- Alvin kamara – Running Back (2017 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, 2017 and 2020 All-Pro Second Team, 2017-21 Pro Bowler)
- Marcus Davenport – Defensive end (7.5 sacks this season)
- Erik McCoy – Center
- Caesar Ruiz – Guard / Center
After inheriting the attacking tackle Terron Armstead Upon arriving with the Saints in 2015, Ireland helped build arguably the best offensive line in the NFL after drafting Peat, Ramczyk, McCoy and Ruiz. And with Minnesota struggling up front in recent years, a GM with a proven track record for hitting big pipes up front seems like the perfect remedy. Prior to Ireland’s arrival in New Orleans, the Saints were 25-22 (0.532 winning percentage) from 2012 to 2014. Since Ireland joined the Saints’ front office in 2015, the Saints are 71-41 (0.634 winning percentage) with four divisions. titles in seven years.
And in the first season of New Orleans without Drew brees, the Saints started four different quarterbacks while facing an offensive line that missed Peat, Ramczyk, Armstead, McCoy and Ruiz for most of the year. Let’s not forget that Michael Thomas hasn’t played a single snap this season. Despite all of this adversity, the Saints are currently 8-8 with a shot at making the playoffs early in Week 18.
Ireland have been instrumental in ensuring that the Saints are a constant contender for the NFC for the past seven years. And since the Wilfs aspire for the Vikings to be precisely that, it wouldn’t be surprising if Ireland tops the list of potential GMs.
Head Coach: Joe Lombardi
After spending 12 seasons as an offensive assistant / quarterback coach under the direction of the head coach Sean payton in New Orleans, Lombardi is currently the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Chargers. First-year head coach Brandon Staley snatched Lombardi to oversee the LA offense when the Chargers decided to part ways with Anthony lynn as head coach after the 2020 season. And with Lombardi implementing the same offense he helped plan with Payton and the Saints, the Chargers are currently one of the most prolific offenses in the entire league.
After placing 18th in points last season with Lynn, the Chargers are currently sixth in points and fourth in yards, with Lombardi counting for Justin herbert, Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, and Mike williams. And while Staley’s calling card is that of a defensive mastermind from his time with the Rams last season, the Chargers are 26th in points and 22nd in yards allowed this season. Los Angeles are in a position to secure a wild card spot at 9-7, and Lombardi and his offense are the main reason.
Offensive coordinator: Joe Brady
Suppose the Wilfs decide to prioritize Justin Jefferson with their organizational reshuffle. In that case, a Jefferson-Brady reunion will help ensure the Vikings don’t have to spend a millisecond worrying about the possibility of losing another disgruntled superstar receiver. Brady was Jefferson’s receivers coach and passing game coordinator during their only season together at LSU in 2019. Prior to joining the LSU staff, Brady spent two seasons as an offensive assistant at New York. -Orléans, working under the orders of Ireland and Lombardi.
When head coach Sean Payton learned that Brady was leaving the Saints for LSU after the 2018 season, Payton admitted to telling Brady he was making a mistake.
While the generally recycled discredit of Brady’s accomplishments at LSU – especially since he was fired by the Carolina Panthers as an offensive coordinator – looks a bit like:
Let’s go back to what LSU’s offense did with the above players in 2018 before Brady came to Baton Rouge.
After the 2018 season, no one drummed to make Burrow, Edwards-Helaire, Jefferson and Chase first-round picks in the NFL Draft. Insert Joe Brady and his Payton, Lombardi and Saints passing game concepts for the 2019 season? The results of an unbeaten national championship season as one of college football’s most successful infractions of all time speak for themselves.
Jefferson credited Brady and his Saints project with allowing him to flourish when he was called up as a rookie wide receiver in the NFL last season. If the Wilfs are to do whatever they can to stop Jefferson from becoming another uplifting tale in Viking folklore, calling on Brady to recreate their magic from 2019 is the easiest way to do it.
By bringing in Ireland as general manager, Lombardi as head coach and Brady as offensive coordinator, the Wilfs can provide the Vikings with the organizational stability of a proven competitor while allowing Jefferson to s’ flourish – once again – in the offensive plan with the same coach who helped put it on the map.
At 32, questions about Brady’s ability to effectively lead an NFL team as a head coach right now are valid. But with Ireland at the head of the front office and Lombardi as an adult with his 16 years of NFL experience, the New Orleans Saints’ plan could be the perfect recipe for the Vikings to become the next offensive superpower in the world. the NFL by releasing and prioritizing Justin Jefferson.