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George Stewart
Wide Receivers

BIOGRAPHY

George Stewart enters his 9th season on the Vikings staff in 2015 and his 27th season of NFL coaching. The Vikings’ WR corps benefits from Stewart’s decades of experience and ability to put players in the best situations to succeed.

Stewart took on the task of developing first-year wideouts Adam Thielen and Charles Johnson while continuing to utilize the talents of veterans Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson and Jarius Wright during the 2014 season. Both Johnson and Thielen played collegiately at the Division II level and spent the 2013 season on practice squads. Johnson, a midseason signing from Cleveland’s practice squad, broke onto the scene with 31 receptions for 475 yards and 2 TDs in 12 games for the Vikings. After spending the entire 2013 on the Vikings practice squad, Thielen caught eight passes for 137 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown in the Vikings’ season-finale victory vs. Chicago. In Stewart’s second year working with ninth-year veteran Jennings, Jennings again led the Vikings in receptions (59), receiving yards (742) and touchdowns (6). The highlight of the season for Stewart’s group came in the Vikings overtime win vs. NY Jets (12/7) when Jarius Wright caught a short pass from rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater and took it 87 yards for the game-winning score. Stewart’s receiving corps played a critical role in the late development of Bridgewater, helping the rookie quarterback rank second in completion percentage (72.3), passing yards (1,092) and passer rating (99.8) during the month of December.

George Stewart enters his 9th season on the Vikings staff in 2015 and his 27th season of NFL coaching. The Vikings’ WR corps benefits from Stewart’s decades of experience and ability to put players in the best situations to succeed.

Stewart took on the task of developing first-year wideouts Adam Thielen and Charles Johnson while continuing to utilize the talents of veterans Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson and Jarius Wright during the 2014 season. Both Johnson and Thielen played collegiately at the Division II level and spent the 2013 season on practice squads. Johnson, a midseason signing from Cleveland’s practice squad, broke onto the scene with 31 receptions for 475 yards and 2 TDs in 12 games for the Vikings. After spending the entire 2013 on the Vikings practice squad, Thielen caught eight passes for 137 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown in the Vikings’ season-finale victory vs. Chicago. In Stewart’s second year working with ninth-year veteran Jennings, Jennings again led the Vikings in receptions (59), receiving yards (742) and touchdowns (6). The highlight of the season for Stewart’s group came in the Vikings overtime win vs. NY Jets (12/7) when Jarius Wright caught a short pass from rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater and took it 87 yards for the game-winning score. Stewart’s receiving corps played a critical role in the late development of Bridgewater, helping the rookie quarterback rank second in completion percentage (72.3), passing yards (1,092) and passer rating (99.8) during the month of December.

In 2013, Stewart once again helped a rookie WR burst into the NFL. Cordarrelle Patterson earned 1st-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors as the NFL’s best KR but his offensive skills shined late in the season. Patterson finished with 3 receiving TDs in the final 4 games and was tied for 1st on the team with 4 receiving TDs on the season. The 3 rushing TDs by Patterson broke a team-record for most rushing TDs in a season by a WR and marked the most by an NFL WR since the 1970 merger. The 50-yard TD run versus Detroit (12/29/13) was the longest scoring rush by a WR in franchise history. Patterson’s 45 receptions and 469 receiving yards were 3rd best behind veterans’ Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson. Jennings led the team with 68 receptions for 804 yards and 4 TDs while adding a career-high 11 receptions vs. Philadelphia (12/15/13) with a season-high 163 receiving yards. Jerome Simpson turned in a career-high 726 receiving yards with 1 TD on 48 receptions. 2nd-year WR Jarius Wright continued to impress when given opportunities and finished the season with 3 TDs and 434 receiving yards on 26 receptions (16.6 avg). The Vikings offense finished the season 13th in the NFL, the highest the Vikings have ranked since reaching the NFC Championship in 2009.

The 2012 squad was forced to groom new talent to contribute to the passing game after leading receiver Percy Harvin was sidelined for the final 7 games. Stewart prepared rookie Jarius Wright to step into action in Harvin’s absence and catch 22 passes in the final 7 games with a pair of TDs and reel in the longest Vikings pass plays of the season- a 65-yarder vs. Green Bay (12/30) and a 54-yard grab vs. Detroit (11/11) on his 1st career reception. Savvy veteran Michael Jenkins ranked 3rd on the team with 40 catches and had a pair of TDs.

Over the years, Stewart has been a part of successful programs, highlighted by 8 playoff appearances and 3 NFC Championship games with San Francisco in 1997, Atlanta in 2004 and Minnesota in 2009. Recently, Stewart helped win 4 Division titles in the past 12 seasons – consecutive NFC North titles with Minnesota in 2008 and 2009, winning the NFC South with Atlanta in 2004 and an NFC West title in 2002 with San Francisco.

During his Vikings tenure, Stewart has coached Harvin to 2009 Rookie of the Year honors and Sidney Rice to a Pro Bowl berth in 2009.  The 2011 season saw Harvin’s production increase even more, as he set career-highs in receptions with 87 and receiving yards with 967. He also tied his career-high for receiving TDs with 6. His 87 receptions ranked 6th in the NFL. Harvin also set team-records for most rushing yards in a season by a WR with 345 and most career rushing yards by a WR with 587.

The 2009 Vikings became only the 2nd team in NFL history to have 6 players catch 40+ passes in a season. Rice enjoyed a breakout season and Harvin established himself as multi-talented offensive threat. Rice’s 1,312 yards ranked 2nd in the NFC in 2009 and he became only the 4th Vikings WR in team history to eclipse the 1,300-yard mark. Rice’s 201 yards vs. Detroit ranks as the 4th-best single-game mark in Vikings history.

Stewart was able to get Harvin acclimated to the pro game and spurred him to NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Year. Harvin tied for the NFL rookie lead in receptions and yards. Harvin excelled on offense and special teams, earning a Pro Bowl berth as a return man and setting a new Vikings record with 2,081 total net yards. His 60 catches ranked 2nd only to Randy Moss’ 1998 debut season when he had 69 receptions in Vikings history for rookie catches.

In 2008, the Vikings WRs contributed to much of the success of an improved passing attack. The Vikings led the NFL with 13 TDs through the air of 20+ yards. Berrian had a career year, setting highs in yards with 964 and TDs with 7.

Throughout Stewart’s coaching career, he has been fortunate to learn from some of the game’s all-time greats, beginning both his playing and early coaching careers under college legend Lou Holtz. Stewart went on to work in the NFL side-by-side with Chuck Noll, Sam Wyche, George Seifert and Dan Reeves, all men who led teams to the Super Bowl. 

During Stewart’s tenure in Atlanta, the team won the NFC South title in 2004 and advanced to the NFC Championship game against Philadelphia.  

Prior to joining Atlanta, Stewart was an integral part of the San Francisco 49ers’ success from 1996-2002, as the team advanced to the playoffs 5 times in those 7 seasons. In 1997, the 49ers won the NFC West with a 13-3 mark and eventually lost to Green Bay in the NFC Championship game. Stewart tutored Terrell Owens, J.J. Stokes and Tai Streets, with Owens making Pro Bowls and All-Pro in 3 straight seasons from 2000-02. Owens had 17 games over the 100-yard receiving mark and 5 games with 150+ yards. He broke a 50-year-old NFL record when he caught 20 passes for 283 yards against the Bears in 2000 en route to his career-best day.

Stewart’s 1st taste of NFL coaching came in Pittsburgh from 1989-91, where he coached special teams on Noll’s staff. In his debut season in 1989, he helped Rod Woodson to a Pro Bowl as a return man. Following Pittsburgh, Stewart went on to spend 4 years coaching Tampa Bay special teams, where he helped K Mike Husted earn All-Rookie honors in 1993.

Before making the move to the NFL, Stewart spent several years in the college ranks, making his final stop as the Notre Dame LBs coach from 1986-88. Under Holtz’s tutelage, the Irish steadily improved from the coach’s opening season in ‘86 to become national champions in 1988, a year in which the team finished 12-0 and defeated West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl.

Stewart and Holtz began working together in 1983, when Stewart got his start in coaching as an Arkansas graduate assistant, working with the Razorbacks’ TEs. When Holtz moved from Arkansas to Minnesota as the Golden Gophers head coach in 1984, Stewart accompanied him as the offensive line coach, his 1st exposure to the state where he would return in 2007. In 2 short seasons, Holtz and his staff quickly turned the Gophers program around, finishing 7-5 in 1985 and winning the Independence Bowl over Clemson, the 1st bowl victory for the Gophers since the 1962 Rose Bowl.

Stewart was a standout guard for the Razorbacks from 1977-80 and helped the squad share the 1979 Southwest Conference title. The team played in 4 straight bowl games during Stewart’s playing tenure as Arkansas returned to national prominence under Holtz. Stewart was an All-SWC honoree as a junior in 1979, served as a team captain in 1980 and earned a spot on the Arkansas Team of the Decade for the 1970s. He signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1981 but spent the season on injured reserve.

Stewart has a bachelor’s degree in education from Arkansas and is a native of Little Rock, AR, where he graduated from Parkview High School in 1977.

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