NFL.com insider Ian Rapoport reported minutes ago that the Vikings have fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo. The news comes in the wake of the Vikings managing just 276 yards and seven points in Seattle on Monday night, and zero points while the game was still in doubt. DeFilippo was in his first season as the Vikings’ play-caller.
The season as a whole has been a roller coaster for the Vikings’ offense, but it has been especially evident in the last four games. They struggled to move the ball on the road in Chicago, New England and Seattle, with a solid performance at home against the Packers sandwiched in between. Head coach Mike Zimmer was openly critical of DeFilippo’s play-calling during that time. He seemed especially aggravated with DeFilippo’s tendency to abandon the run, even when games were close.
In that regard, Monday may have been the last straw. While the Vikings were struggling to move the ball through the air, the running game had been relatively efficient. Yet, in multiple third- and fourth-and-short situations, DeFilippo opted for long-developing passing plays rather than runs. The Vikings failed to convert all of them, with the exception of a successful quarterback sneak.
Based on our Twitter poll from last night, this may be a popular decision among Vikings fans. That said, the news is still surprising, given the expectations for the offense coming into the season. Minnesota had a solid offense last year with strong weapons and play-calling, then brought in the high-priced Kirk Cousins and the much-coveted DeFilippo for 2018. The assumption was the offense would progress under his leadership. As it turned out, with a few exceptions, the results have been underwhelming.
DeFilippo’s next steps will be interesting. Just weeks ago, he was among the favorites to land the Packers’ head coaching job. There was also head coach talk for him this past season before the Vikings hired him to call plays. As a midseason dismissal, however, it seems unlikely that DeFilippo’s stock will reach those heights anytime soon.
As for the Vikings, NFL.com’s Albert Breer tweeted that quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski will take over as play-caller. The 36-year-old Stefanski interviewed for the Vikings offensive coordinator job in the offseason before the job ultimately went to DeFilippo. He has been with the Vikings since 2006. During the offseason, Zimmer pushed hard to keep him on staff when Stefanski reportedly had offers to interview for coordinator positions elsewhere. If the rest of the season shapes out well, the job may be Stefanski’s to lose.
So the Vikings have now made a definitive statement regarding their offense. The head coach and coordinator clearly did not see eye-to-eye when it came to offensive philosophy, and given the last few weeks, it is easy to see Zimmer’s point-of-view. With Stefanski in charge moving forward, expect a considerably more prevalent running game this coming week.
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.
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