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Monday Morning Mailbag: An Update on Vikings GM & HC Searches

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With much of the final decision making on the hiring of the Vikings new Head Coach coming down to our yet-to-be-determined General Manager, why is Minnesota conducting so many head coach interviews already? Are they allowed to discuss the head coaching interviews with the potential GM candidates during their interviews or will they bring head coaching candidates back for additional interviews once the GM is hired?

— Todd Jewell

Todd kicks us off with a great question as we enter Week 3 of the Vikings offseason.

To recap, here is what Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf said two weeks ago today:

"Both searches are starting right away, but the GM is going to be our first selection and then the GM will have input in the head coach."

And although both searches have produced interviews with eight candidates for each gig, it remains possible that the GM vacancy still gets filled first.

(A quick aside: go here for the latest news on the General Manager search, and go here for updates on Head Coach interviews).

Going back to Todd's question, it simply makes sense to conduct both at the same time, even if you end up picking the GM first.

For one, certain NFL rules can dictate who teams can and cannot interview, depending on their current role and if their current team is in the playoffs.

Consider the following, and I'm pulling this from a story written by my colleague, Craig Peters:

Between Jan. 16-18, in-person and/or virtual interviews for a head coach spot may be conducted with coaches whose team won a Wild Card game. That window will continue through the conclusion of Divisional games.

All other interviews with coaches whose teams are still participating in the playoffs will be prohibited until Jan. 31.

On. Jan. 31, the day after the Super Bowl participants are decided, assistant coaches with those two clubs who previously interviewed for a head coach or coordinator position may have a second in-person or virtual interview no later than Feb. 6.

For example, 49ers Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans interviewed Sunday afternoon. Because San Francisco is still in the playoffs, the Vikings, if they want, can't talk to Ryans again until after the NFC title game.

In this scenario, it made sense to interview any candidates Minnesota's internal search group was interested in.

A few more key points to bring up.

One, there's a chance that whomever is hired as the Vikings new GM might want to interview other head-coaching candidates outside the eight that have currently been confirmed.

And two, even if the above does not happen, and the new Vikings GM instead hypothetically prefers one of the eight coaches whose interview has been confirmed, then some legwork has already been done. And yes, I suppose it's reasonable to assume that any GM candidates have been asked about potentially working with any HC candidates.

That's all a long way of saying both searches are going on simultaneously, even if one will be complete first. The Vikings don't want to bring in a new GM and then be at square one on the HC search.

I'm curious how the interview request process goes, and if it's the same for GM and HC? Who contacts who to request and grant permission (owner, NFL, GM, agent, etc.) and in what order? I've often wondered that.

— Tom K. in Santa Rosa, California

I'll have my people call your people. (That's a joke, of course, because I don't have any people).

Without getting too deep into the weeds, NFL hiring guidelines state that permission to interview a candidate with another club must be sought in writing from the owner or operating head of the club.

Teams can then either approve or deny permission.

And then, off they go with the interview process, which usually includes multiple rounds for finalists before one is named for each vacancy.

There's obviously a lot more to it than that, but there's the truncated version in roughly 100 words.

View the best quarterback photos from the 2021 season shot by Vikings photographers.

Prevent defense … get rid of this play permanently. It's the dumbest thing in the playbook.

— Thomas Tibbs

Thomas' email came through during the Monday night playoff game between the Cardinals and Rams, so it's likely in reference to that game.

But I wanted to use it as a chance to highlight a Vikings trend that was a lowlight of the 2021 season.

Craig also wrote an article this week that looked at three strong stats from the 2021 Vikings defense, along with two other stats that will hopefully be better in 2022.

Unsurprisingly, one of the stats in the latter category was for points allowed in the final two minutes of each half this season.

An excerpt from Craig's story:

The Vikings allowed 93 points in the final two minutes before halftimes this season and an NFL-record (since the 1970 merger) 128 points inside all 2-minute warnings — which has a direct correlation to winning and losing football games.

Most people who follow the team closely know that stat, and that it was a sore and maddening subject for most of the season.

But what Craig pointed out, and what I wanted to highlight, is that the trend began early, with an allowed 24 total points after the 2-minute warning (and before halftime) in losses to Cincinnati and Arizona.

Perhaps we should have known what would unfold all season based on the early outcomes. Minnesota lost that pair of games by a combined four points, and those wins would have put the Vikings in the NFC Playoffs.

While I still think the Vikings were too inconsistent enough to make a serious run, the wild results in the NFC and the Divisional Round shows that really anything can happen once the postseason arrives.

The Vikings have failed at getting a field goal kicker. Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer did nothing and probably would still have their jobs if they would have addressed it.

— Lonnie Olson

Of all the things to criticize Spielman and Zimmer for at the end of their respective tenures, this one shouldn't be high on the list.

Do the Vikings have a long and storied history with kicker? Of course.

But you can't really pin the full struggles of the 2021 season on Greg Joseph, who was mostly solid in his first season in Purple.

Yes, he missed the game-winner in Arizona, but remember that he also was clutch against Cincinnati to send the game to overtime and nailed walk-off winners against the Lions and Packers at home.

Overall, Joseph made 33 of 38 field goals, good for an 86.8-percent success rate. That figure might have ranked in the middle of the pack among all kickers in 2021, but it's a strong bet that most teams would take that average any given year.

Joseph also showed off his range this past season, as his seven successful field goals of 50-plus yards were the second-most in a single season in franchise history.

We'll have plenty of time to get into the state of the Vikings roster once the GM and HC are hired. Joseph is an exclusive rights free agent in 2022, which makes his return more probable than if he was an unrestricted free agent.

We can actually thank Spielman and Zimmer (and Special Teams Coordinator Ryan Ficken and Joseph) for a strong season.

Personnel decisions will be up to the new GM and head coach.

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