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Full Bios: Vikings Defensive and Special Teams Coaching Staffs

Posted Feb 6, 2014

George Edwards // Defensive Coordinator // 24th Year Coaching // 1st Year with Vikings

  • Joins the Vikings in 2014 as the Defensive Coordinator. This will be Edwards’ 3rd stint as a DC as he held the same title in Washington (2003) and Buffalo (2010-2011).
  • Edwards coached the linebackers in Miami in 2013, his 2nd stop as LBs coach with the Dolphins, and saw two newcomers; Philip Wheeler (118) and Dannell Ellerbe (101) surpass 100 tackles on the season.
  • Edwards has worked out of both the 4-3 and 3-4 defensive fronts during his stints as defensive coordinator in Buffalo and Washington.
  • Helped DT Kyle Williams excel in Buffalo and make his 1st Pro Bowl in 2010 when posting career highs in sacks (5.5) and fumble recoveries (2).
  • While the DC in Buffalo, the Bills allowed 192.0 passing yards per game which was 3rd best in the AFC. Their 9 fumble recoveries tied them for 4th in the AFC and their 12 forced fumbles tied for 5th in the AFC.
  • During his 1st stop as the Dolphins linebacker coach, Edwards aided Zach Thomas who was selected to the Pro Bowl following both the 2005 and 2006 seasons. In 2006, Thomas was named the NFL Alumni Linebacker of the year.
  • While the Defensive Coordinator in Washington in 2003, Edwards saw LB LaVar Arrington and CB Champ Bailey make the Pro Bowl. 
  • As the Redskins LB coach in 2002, Edwards helped LaVar Arrington turn in a career year with 107 tackles and 11 sacks while making the Pro Bowl. All 3 of Edwards’ starting LBs in 2002 recorded 100 tackles.
  • Edwards entered the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys and would eventually work under then Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer as Edwards led the LBs. Under Edwards’ guidance, Dexter Coakley, a 3rd-round draft choice in 1997, was selected to the Pro Bowl twice over this 4-year span (1999, 2001).
  • Before working in the NFL, Edwards made several stops along the collegiate route. He spent 1 season at Georgia as the Defensive Line coach and tutored a defensive line which included a pair of freshmen in Richard Seymour and Marcus Stroud, both of whom would be selected in the 1st round of the 2001 NFL Draft. 
  • A 4-year letterman at Duke University, Edwards was twice named the special teams captain and an honorable mention All-ACC selection at linebacker in 1989.

Mike Priefer // Special Teams Coordinator // 21st Year Coaching // 4th Year with Vikings

  • Returns as the Vikings Special Teams Coordinator for his 4th season in Minnesota. Has held the same title with the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs in the past.
  • Helped Cordarrelle Patterson rank #1 in the NFL with a 32.4 kick return average and Marcus Sherels rank #2 in the NFL with a 15.2 punt return average. Both players set Vikings records with their averages.
  • Helped the Vikings lead the NFL in 2013 in average starting position following a kickoff at the 27.2 yard line, the highest since the NFL changed the kickoff rules following the 2010 season.
  • Aided rookie punter Jeff Locke in his 1st NFL season where he set the team rookie-record for gross punting average with 44.2 yards. Locke’s 39.2 net average ranks 3rd all-time in team history.
  • Had rookies named First-Team All-Pro in back-to-back years with Blair Walsh in 2012 and Cordarrelle Patterson in 2013.
  • Since joining the Vikings in 2011, the Vikings lead the NFL with 4 kick return TDs. Their 6 combined TDs (4 KR, 2 PR) are tied for tops in the NFL.
  • Was named the 2012 Special Teams Coach of the Year as voted on by his NFL counterparts. As a unit, the Vikings committed the fewest turnovers (0), made the most FGs (35) and allowed the fewest points (0) in the NFL on special teams.
  • Worked with Blair Walsh who made an NFL record 12 consecutive field goals over 50 yards during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
  • Owns a bachelor’s degree from Navy and received a master’s degree from the University of Maryland in 1997. Priefer flew helicopters as a Naval officer for 6 years (1989-94) after his graduation. His work included tours of duty on the USS America in the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea.

Robb Akey // Assistant Defensive Line // 25th Year Coaching // 1st Year with Vikings

  • Joins the Vikings as the club’s Assistant Defensive Line Coach, enters his 1st season in the NFL in 2014 after serving at the collegiate level for 24 years.
  • Akey was the Head Coach at the University of Idaho from 2007-12 where he led the Vandals to their 2nd bowl game in school history in 2009.
  • Akey spent 8 seasons at Washington State where he mentored the defensive line from 1999-2002 and was the Defensive Coordinator from 2003-06.
  • In 2003, Akey’s Washington State defense led the nation in takeaways with 48 in addition to finishing 5th in pass efficiency defense and 6th in rush defense.
  • In 1988, Akey received his 1st coaching job, under Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, who was the Defensive Coordinator at his alma mater, Weber State.
  • As a player, Akey was coached by Zimmer, who served as Weber State’s Defensive Coordinator throughout his entire playing career. He played TE, OLB and DE during his 4-year career.
  • Akey finished his career as the Wildcat leader in sacks and was named All-Big Sky 1st team as a senior in 1987 as well as honorable mention All-American honors.

Ryan Ficken // Assistant Special Teams // 8th Year Coaching // 8th Year with Vikings

  • Ficken returns as the Special Teams Assistant for his 2nd year. 2014 is his 8th year with the Vikings as he worked with RBs and WRs in years past.
  • Helped the Vikings lead the NFL in 2013 in average starting position following a kickoff at the 27.2 yard line, the highest since the NFL changed the kickoff rules following the 2010 season.
  • Worked with Cordarrelle Patterson who ranked #1 in the NFL with a 32.4 kick return average and Marcus Sherels who ranked #2 in the NFL with a 15.2 punt return average. Both players set Vikings records with their averages.
  • Aided rookie punter Jeff Locke in his 1st NFL season where he set the team rookie-record for gross punting average with 44.2 yards. Locke’s 39.2 net average ranks 3rd all-time in team history.
  • Worked with Adrian Peterson in 2007 and Percy Harvin in 2009 when both players were named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
  • Was a member of the Arizona State football team for 2 seasons (1998-99) and played wide receiver.

Jonathan Gannon // Assistant Defensive Backs / Quality Control // 5th Year Coaching // 1st Year with Vikings

  • Spent the past 2 seasons working as a Defensive Assistant/Quality Control under current Vikings Secondary Coach Jerry Gray in Tennessee. Gannon also assisted in coaching LBs.
  • Served as a scout for St. Louis from 2009-11, working with National Football Scouting for 2 seasons prior to becoming a Pro Scout in 2011.
  • Gained first NFL experience under current Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer as a Defensive Quality Control Coach for the Atlanta Falcons in 2007.
  • Played one season as a Defensive Back at Louisville before a hip injury ended his career. Spent his last 3 years as a Volunteer Assistant Coach for his alma mater before spending one season as a Graduate Assistant.

Jerry Gray // Defensive Backs // 19th Year Coaching // 1st Year with Vikings

  • Gray has served as a Defensive Coordinator twice, with the Buffalo Bills (2001-05) and Tennessee Titans (2011-13).
  • While coaching the DBs in Tennessee, Gray helped  2nd-year CB Samari Rolle and veteran S Blaine Bishop earn Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors in 2000 while the unit ranked 1st in the NFL in fewest passing yards and total yards allowed.
  • As the Bills Defensive Coordinator, his defenses in 2003 and 2004 both ranked 2nd in the NFL for yards allowed and each were rated in the top 10 in points allowed. In 2004 his defense led the NFL in takeaways (39) and ranked 3rd in sacks (45).
  • During his one season in Seattle, 2010, Gray helped rookie S Earl Thomas to an impressive debut starting all 16 games and totaled 5 interceptions.
  • As a player, Gray was a 4-time Pro Bowler during his 9-year NFL career as a CB. Gray, who finished with a career 28 interceptions, was named the NFL’s Defensive Back of the Year by the NFLPA in 1989 and won Pro Bowl MVP honors in 1990.
  • While at the University of Texas, Gray was a 2-time consensus All-American and 2-time Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a safety.

Jeff Howard // Defensive Assistant // 8th Year Coaching // 2nd Year with Vikings

  • Howard will start in a new role in 2014 as the Vikings Defensive Assistant after spending last season as the Assistant to the Head Coach.
  • Prior to joining the Vikings, he spent 2 seasons at Texas Tech, working as their Defensive Quality Control Coach in 2011 before becoming Safeties coach in 2012.
  • Spent 4 seasons at Odessa Permian (Texas) High School, his first 2 coaching LBs and Secondary in 2007 and 2008 before spending the 2009 and 2010 seasons as their Defensive Coordinator.
  • Played LB for 4 seasons at Eastern New Mexico, earning AFCA Division II All-American honors following his senior year in 2004. The school retired his jersey in 2006 and he entered the ENMU Hall of Honor in 2011.

Andre Patterson // Defensive Line // 30th Year Coaching // 1st Year with Vikings

  • Joins the Vikings for his second stint as Defensive Line Coach after holding the same position for the 1998-99 seasons.
  • Has coached at all three levels, spending 5 years as a high school head coach, 14 years as a college coach and 10 seasons as an NFL coach
  • Served as the Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach at Florida International in 2013 after spending 3 seasons at UTEP as their Defensive Line Coach.
  • Worked at UNLV from 2008-2009 as their Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach, helping the Rebels defeat #15 Arizona State 23-20 in 2008.
  • From 1997-2006, Patterson worked in the NFL mainly as a Defensive Line Coach with stops in Denver (2005-06), Cleveland (2003-04), Cowboys (2000-02) and New England (1997) to go along with his 2 seasons in Minnesota.
  • Advanced to Conference Championships with Minnesota (1998) and Denver (2005).
  • Coached Pro Bowlers John Randle (1998) and La’Roi Glover (2002).
  • His lone collegiate head coaching experience came at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo from 1994-96. He was named the America West Conference Coach of the Year in 1994 after leading the program to a conference championship.
  • Made a 2-year stop at Washington State as their Defensive Line Coach (1992-93) after working at Cornell in the same position from 1990-91. Washington State finished the 1992 season ranked #15 in the country and Cornell won the Ivy League Championship in 1990.
  • Served as the Defensive Coordinator at Western Washington in 1989 after spending the previous season at Weber St.
  • Spent 5 seasons at the prep level, working as the Head Coach at St. Monica High School (Calif.) in 1987 after 4 seasons as the Defensive Coordinator at Renton High School (Wash.)
  • Played collegiately as an Offensive Lineman at Contra Costa College and Montana before suffering a career ending injury. 

Drew Petzing // Coaching Assistant // 6th Year Coaching // 1st Year with Vikings

  • Petzing will serve as a Coaching Assistant in his 1st season with the Vikings, assisting Mike Zimmer and the rest of the coaching staff.
  • Spent the 2013 season with the Cleveland Browns working with their Football Operations.
  • Coached Outside LBs at Yale during the 2012 season after serving as a Graduate Assistant at Boston College in 2010 and 2011. Got first coaching experience at Harvard as a Volunteer Assistant in 2009.
  • Played football at Middlebury for two seasons (2005-06) before suffering a career-ending injury. Spent his last two years (2007-08) serving as a Volunteer Student Assistant.

Adam Zimmer // Linebackers // 9th Year Coaching // 1st Year with Vikings

  • Comes to Minnesota after spending the 2013 season as the Assistant Defensive Backs Coach for the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals secondary allowed the 2nd-fewest passing yards in the NFL and combined to intercept 14 passes.
  • Worked as an Assistant Linebackers Coach/Defensive Assistant in Kansas City from 2010-12, helping the Chiefs clinch the AFC West with a 10-6 record in 2010.
  • Assisted in coaching 3 Chiefs LBs to Pro Bowl honors (Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson) in 2012, the first time in Chiefs history that they have had 3 LBs make it to the Pro Bowl.
  • In 2009, his last of 4 seasons with New Orleans, won Super Bowl XLIV with a 31-17 defeat over Indianapolis.
  • Added duties as Assistant Linebackers Coach in 2009 after serving as a Defensive Assistant from 2006-08. In 2009, the Saints finished with the 2nd-most takeaways (39) and LB Jonathan Vilma earned Pro Bowl honors.
  • Zimmer was a Safety during his 4 seasons at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.
  • Is the son of Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. 

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