6 realistic candidates to be the next Vikings defensive coordinator

(Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images) Vance Joseph
(Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images) Vance Joseph /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Ejiro Evero /

Ejiro Evero

2022 Role: Defensive Coordinator for the Denver Broncos

This should be Kevin O’Connell’s No. 1 choice, but the actual availability of Ejiro Evero will likely determine whether he ends up with the Vikings this offseason or not.

The 2022 season was Evero’s first-ever opportunity to be a defensive coordinator in the NFL and he did an excellent job. Despite the Broncos‘ poor overall success, their defense was among the league’s best in 2022.

Denver ranked seventh in the NFL this season in total yards allowed, 14th in total points allowed, 11th in yards per rushing attempt allowed, fifth in yards allowed per pass attempt, and fourth in blitz rate. Under Evero, the Broncos’ defense also ranked as the 10th-best unit in the league during the 2022 season, according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric.

With connections to both O’Connell and Minnesota general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Evero will be a prime target for the Vikings if Denver’s new head coach decides to hire a different defensive coordinator.

Mike Pettine

2022 Role: Assistant Head Coach for the Minnesota Vikings

This would seem like a simple fix for Minnesota if they didn’t want to make too many changes to the defensive scheme they just spent the last year implementing.

With success in the past running defenses for the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, and Green Bay Packers, Mike Pettine seems like he would be a much better fit as the Vikings’ defensive coordinator than Ed Donatell.

At the same time, given his defensive background, we don’t know how much Pettine had an influence on Minnesota’s defense in 2022, and perhaps he was to blame for some of the unit’s struggles.