Vikings May Have to Settle for Mike Singletary At Defensive Coordinator


If you believe the rumors, the Vikings are about to run out of defensive coordinator candidates. In the last couple days we’ve learned that Steve Spagnuolo is probably going to Philadelphia and that Mel Tucker is likely headed back to Jacksonville. It’s been confirmed that Raheem Morris will go to Washington to become their defensive backs coach. By my reckoning that leaves just one rumored defensive coordinator candidate standing. Mike Singletary, anyone?

Singletary has several things going for him, if indeed he is the man the Vikes are targeting to replace Fred Pagac (who, incidentally, still hasn’t officially been fired). One, he’s pals with Leslie Frazier. Two, he wears a big old cross. Three, he is a master of the fine art of motivating players via pant removal.

Now let’s list the stuff Singletary doesn’t have going for him: Proven play-calling acumen. A track-record of remaking poor defenses into solid ones. The respect of his former players.

Before you get mad at me for trashing Singletary, remember that the above criticisms are all coming from other people, including Viking players. As one unnamed source told Tom Pelissero a few weeks back, “That would be bad for Mike. That’s the last thing [the Vikings] need, is somebody that doesn’t know how to call plays or doesn’t understand modern play-calling.”

Pelissero himself wrote, “Singletary never has coordinated a defense at any level, and his shortcomings as a strategist followed him after a failed head-coaching stint in San Francisco. A source familiar with the situation said there was an outcry by almost the entire 49ers roster about Singletary’s authoritarian approach and lack of expertise when it came to Xs and Os.”

Just what the Vikings need after the Pagac debacle: Another coach who fails to command the respect of his players.

Another thing to keep in mind with Singletary: He comes from a 3-4 background. Would hiring him mean a 3-4 makeover? Leslie Frazier has already indicated that he’s not interested in converting. Overall there has been severe disagreement over whether the Vikings even have the personnel to make the switch. And what happens to Jared Allen if the Vikes do take the plunge?

Hiring Singletary really only makes sense if you’re planning to switch to 3-4. Making a guy with no experience as a 4-3 man the defensive coordinator on a 4-3 team that’s trying to at least semi-rebuild seems like a suicidal move. The fact that the Vikings took stabs at Raheem Morris and Steve Spagnuolo would tend to indicate they’re sticking with 4-3 and want a coordinator with a better track record than what Singletary brings to the table.

But you never know with the Vikings. Singletary is Frazier’s guy. Maybe Frazier thinks he can get Singletary up to speed on the 4-3 in time to hand the play-calling over to him. Maybe Frazier thinks Singletary’s fiery persona is what the defense needs. I think the defense needs a real mastermind to re-shape it, but masterminds are in short supply. If you can’t get a guru, get a guy who looks fearsome on the sidelines and isn’t afraid to rip his pants off in front of other men?

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