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 Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Vance Joseph /

Vance Joseph

2022 Role: Defensive Coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals

In terms of external candidates to become the next Vikings defensive coordinator, Vance Joseph could be one of the best available.

Joseph didn’t experience much success during his two seasons as the head coach of the Broncos in 2017 and 2018 (11-21 record), but he’s been in control of some pretty solid defenses during his coaching career.

With Joseph as the defensive coordinator, the Cardinals‘ defense ranked among the NFL’s 12 best teams in terms of points allowed in 2020 and in 2021. Arizona’s defense trended in the wrong direction this season, but that whole franchise had a disaster of a year, so it’s hard to place all of the blame for the defense’s struggles solely on the shoulders of Joseph.

Compared to Ed Donatell’s scheme, Joseph’s defenses are much more aggressive, something that Kevin O’Connell might be intrigued with. In 2022, the Cardinals’ blitz rate of 34.5 percent ranked second in the NFL.

Gus Bradley

2022 Role: Defensive Coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts

Another external candidate with head-coaching experience, much of Gus Bradley’s success in his NFL coaching career has been as a defensive coordinator.

Bradley led the charge for the infamous “Legion of Boom” Seattle Seahawks defense back in 2011 and 2012, a unit that ranked first in the league points allowed during the 2012 season.

Then after an unsuccessful four years as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Bradley went on to spend four seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers finished among the top 15 teams in points allowed in three of their four years with Bradley running their defense.

In 2022, he was hired to be the Colts’ defensive coordinator, and despite the unit’s box scores looking terrible, it actually ranked as the NFL’s 14th-best defense according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric.

Adding even more intrigue to the possibility of Bradley as the Vikings’ next defensive coordinator is the fact that he’s a Minnesota native. He attended Zumbrota High School in Zumbrota, Minnesota, and he spent his college days at nearby North Dakota State University.