Ranking the 7 best Vikings coaches of all time not named Bud Grant

Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer
Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

Ever since the franchise's very first game in 1961, there have been a total of 10 different people to hold the title of Minnesota Vikings head coach.

Compared to some other NFL franchises that have also been around for more than 50 years, like the Cleveland Browns (22 head coaches since 1946), Detroit Lions (29 since 1930), and New York Jets (20 since 1960), 10 different head coaches for the Vikings during their existence is far from being considered a lot.

When it comes to Minnesota head coaches, Bud Grant is the clear-cut best of all time to hold the position. Grant still holds the Vikings head coaching records for wins, win percentage, playoff wins, and total games coached.

So, for this list, we're going to attempt to figure out who deserves to be considered the best Minnesota head coach behind Bud Grant in the No. 1 spot.

7 best Minnesota Vikings coaches of all time not named Bud Grant

7. Leslie Frazier (2010 - 2013)

Games: 54
W-L Record: 21-32-1 (.398 win percentage)
Playoff Appearances: 1 (0-1 record)
Division Titles: 0

Still Leslie Frazier's only head coaching job during his time in the NFL, success wasn't something the Vikings experienced much with him in charge.

The highlight of his head-coaching tenure in Minnesota took place during the 2012 season when the team was carried into the playoffs by an epic MVP performance from former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

6. Brad Childress (2006 - 2010)

Games: 74
W-L Record: 39-35 (.527 win percentage)
Playoff Appearances: 2 (1-2 record)
Division Titles: 2

In terms of putting a roster together, Brad Childress was one of the best in Minnesota's history. During his tenure, the Vikings were able to add some of the best players to ever put on a purple and gold uniform, including Peterson, Jared Allen, Steve Hutchinson, Ryan Longwell, Chad Greenway, Brian Robison, Brett Favre, Percy Harvin, and Everson Griffen.

But when it came to figuring out how to coach all of this talent to success, Childress stumbled. Minnesota's best season with him as its head coach happened in 2009 when they made it all the way to the NFC Championship, but many would point to the addition of Favre as the main reason why the team was so successful that year.

5. Mike Tice (2001 - 2005)

Games: 65
W-L Record: 32-33 (.492 win percentage)
Playoff Appearances: 1 (1-1 record)
Division Titles: 0

Believe it or not, some of the best offensive performances by a Vikings team in franchise history took place when Mike Tice was Minnesota's head coach.

During three of Tice's four full seasons as the Vikings head coach, the team ranked eighth or higher in the NFL in points per game and fourth or higher in total offense. Now, the performance of Minnesota's defense was a much different story during his tenure, but the team could definitely put up plenty of points when he was the head coach.

4. Kevin O'Connell (2022 - Present)

Games: 34
W-L Record: 20-13 (.588 win percentage)
Playoff Appearances: 1 (0-1 record)
Division Titles: 1

Kevin O'Connell's career as the Viking head coach got off to a blazing-fast start in 2022 when he helped lead the team to 13 wins and the franchise's first NFC North title since 2017.

But Minnesota took a big step back in O'Connell's second year with the team in 2023 as they were only able to win a total of seven games. The Vikings' struggles in the 2023 season probably had more to do with a number of their top players missing time due to significant injuries, and perhaps O'Connell even deserves more credit for squeezing seven wins out of a team that might have only won three or four games under a different head coach.

3. Jerry Burns (1986 - 1991)

Games: 95
W-L Record: 52-43 (.547 win percentage)
Playoff Appearances: 3 (3-3 record)
Division Titles: 1

After spending 18 years as Minnesota's offensive coordinator, Jerry Burns made the transition to being the team's head coach in 1986 after Bud Grant retired for the second time in his career.

The Vikings wound up making the playoffs in three of Burns' first four seasons as the team's head coach, including a surprising trip to the NFC Championship in 1987. But even with all of the success he was able to help Minnesota achieve during his time with the franchise, nothing will likely ever be more memorable than his expletive-filled rant after a game in 1989.

2. Mike Zimmer (2014 - 2021)

Games: 129
W-L Record: 72-56-1 (.547 win percentage)
Playoff Appearances: 3 (2-3 record)
Division Titles: 2

Speaking of expletives, Mike Zimmer was never afraid to speak his mind during his eight seasons as the head coach of the Vikings. Minnesota embraced Zimmer's brash attitude at first, but as the team struggled in his final few years, his brutal honesty ultimately led to his departure.

Still, some of the Vikings' most successful seasons in the last two decades came with Zimmer as the team's head coach. And behind Bud Grant, he's easily the second-most successful defensive-minded Minnesota head coach in the franchise's history.

1. Dennis Green (1992 - 2001)

Games: 159
W-L Record: 97-62 (.610 win percentage)
Playoff Appearances: 8 (4-8 record)
Division Titles: 4

There might not be a more underrated head coach in the history of the NFL than Dennis Green, especially during his time with the Vikings. Green's winning percentage in his tenure with Minnesota was higher than Bill Walsh's as the San Francisco 49ers head coach (.609), Tom Landry's as the Dallas Cowboys head coach (.607), and Chuck Knoll's as the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach (.566).

Unfortunately, none of the Vikings' consistent success during the regular season with Green leading the way translated into success in the playoffs, as Minnesota only won four games in eight postseason appearances during his time with the team.

Still, no argument can legitimately be made against Green being regarded as the second-best head coach in Vikings history behind Bud Grant.

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