Seven NFL teams have made changes to their head coaches for the 2016 season in what's become an annual period of influx of ideas and methods.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer was one of seven new hires in 2014 and is tied for the best record (18-14) of any candidate that was chosen.
Teams have different methods of trying to identify the candidate that best fits their organization and its needs.
Jenny Vrentas of Sports Illustrated's The Monday Morning Quarterback took readers behind closed doors with details of the intense interview process. Vrentas avoids specifics, but provides vivid details:
One team began with the question about changing the culture. Another opened with, "Why do you think you should be the head coach of the (insert team name here)?" One candidate recalled being asked, "Do we have a chance to win in (insert city here)?"
Team owners have to sell whomever they hire to their locker room and their fan base, but first their next head coach has to sell himself: What is his vision for turning the team around, and how will he put that vision into motion? Take out the guesswork, agents tell their clients. Teams want to know the specifics of your vision. Charley Casserly, the former Washington and Houston general manager who serves on the NFL's career development advisory panel, reminds prospective head coaches of a phrase he once heard that speaks to the essence of the interview process: "How are you going to win a game?"
"You'd be surprised," says one team executive who hired a new head coach this year. "People really reveal themselves."
Here's an example of what that means: The candidate who said his vision for the offense will be whatever the coordinator wants is not ready to be a head coach. Here's another: If an offensive coordinator interviewing for a head-coaching job still wants to draw cards for the game, that's a sign he hasn't graduated to being the CEO of a team.
Click here for the full feature from Vrentas.
On the line
View images of the Vikings new offensive line coach Tony Sparano.
Last week, the Vikings hired Tony Sparano as offensive line coach. Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune believes the Vikings could be preparing to make personnel changes to the group via the draft, free agency or both.
Vensel noted that recent history shows the Vikings have employed a draft-and-develop strategy for most players on the offensive line. Minnesota has mined later rounds of the draft or even players who weren't tabbed in the annual selection process:
*The Vikings have only drafted two offensive linemen in the first three rounds of the draft since 2007. That would be Kalil and Loadholt. It has been their preference to take late-round flyers on players and hope to develop them over time. That approach worked in the past with Sullivan and Fusco, who became solid starters. But it came back to bite them this season. *
*This offseason, the Vikings will have to be more proactive when it comes to rebuilding the line, and the good news is it sounds like they plan to be. *
It's a little more than three months from commencement of the 2016 NFL Draft (April 28-30), and speculation season is already ramping up.
Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com noted the fluidity of pre-draft talks and that multiple early mock drafts predict the Vikings will tab a receiver
*Because so much will change in the coming weeks, and because the Vikings won't select until the 23rd pick in the opening round, it's certain the speculation about general manager Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer's pick will change numerous times. *
*One thing at least three of these prognosticators might want to reconsider is their feeling that the Vikings will select a wide receiver. [Mel] Kiper has Minnesota taking TCU's Josh Doctson, while [Dane] Brugler speculates it will be Baylor's Corey Coleman and [Daniel] Jeremiah goes with Mississippi's Laquon Treadwell. *
Coming to the conclusion that Spielman will grab a receiver in order to help quarterback Teddy Bridgewater isn't surprising.
Zulgad outlined the case for that thought process, but added that the offensive line might be an area of focus instead of receiver.