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What you should know about the Vikings' head coach candidates

Seven candidates were revealed on Saturday morning.

The search for the next head coach of the Minnesota Vikings took an important step on Saturday morning with the club reaching out to seven potential candidates.

For Vikings fans, each candidate brings something different to the table and can help change the culture in Minnesota. But what should fans know as interviews begin this week?

Kellen Moore

Moore has served as the offensive coordinator in Dallas for the past three seasons. The Cowboys have ranked first in total offense in two of those seasons and it could have been all three if Dak Prescott didn't break his ankle in 2020.

At 33 years old, Moore fits the Sean McVay mold as a young, offensive mind. But it's unclear if he has the leadership skills necessary to become a head coach.

That hasn't stopped teams from inquiring as Moore has interviewed with the Broncos and Jaguars for their head coaching position. Unless Dallas decides to fire Mike McCarthy, Moore should be a head coach next season. The question is where it will be.

Todd Bowles

If the Vikings want to try to build on the defensive side of the ball, Bowles would be an outstanding hire. He has helped the Buccaneers rank in the top 10 of points allowed the past two seasons and has kept Tampa Bay afloat despite a slew of injuries.

Bowles also has previous experience as a head coach but it came during a rough four-year stretch with the New York Jets. Still, Bowles went 10-6 in his first season in New York and his 43 percent blitz rate ranks second in the NFL.

After crafting the game plan that shut down Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl, the Vikings' defense could turn around quickly under Bowles. They would just need to find an offensive mind to pair him with.

Dan Quinn

Quinn is a familiar name thanks to his time with the Atlanta Falcons. Quinn's tenure in Atlanta started well, with the Falcons going to the Super Bowl in his second season and going 29-19 in his first three years.

But the reason Quinn isn't in Atlanta is because of his tendency to melt down. You know that Quinn blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl and his last two seasons saw the Falcons find every possible way to lose before he was fired after an 0-5 start in 2020.

The Vikings just completed a season where 14 of their 17 games were decided by one possession, so maybe Quinn isn't a fit. But with Quinn the favorite for the Denver Broncos job, the Vikings may not have the chance to see how he pans out.

DeMeco Ryans

If you were a fan in the 2000s, there's a good chance you'll remember Ryans. A second-round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, Ryans was a two-time Pro Bowler over his 10-year career with Houston and Philadelphia.

What's more impressive is what Ryans has done since his 2015 retirement. A member of Kyle Shanahan's staff, the 37-year-old has ascended to defensive coordinator and helped the 49ers rank third in total yards allowed.

"I've seen head coach qualities out of DeMeco since he was a player," Shanahan said this week. "When he was a quality control [coach], when he was a linebacker coach, and now when he is a coordinator. So he's always had those qualities. It's just about him getting the reps and getting the experience. It's a matter of time with him."

Nathaniel Hackett

If you weren't a fan of Zimmer's press conferences, Hackett is your guy. Hackett's enthusiasm beams through the camera and could sell Vikings fans hope after the past three years of disappointment.

"He's infectious – high energy, high motor and wants to make it fun," Packers assistant offensive line coach Luke Butkus said in 2019. "It's great because too many times in this profession it can be dull and monotonous, but he's always keeping you on your toes. Just a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm."

Although he doesn't grumble at reporters, Hackett is more than just a hype man. Hackett led Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars to the sixth-best offense in 2017 and has produced a top 10 offense in Green Bay in each of the past two seasons.

Jonathan Gannon

Gannon has ties to Minnesota, serving as the Vikings' assistant defensive backs coach from 2014-17. While he has already interviewed with the Broncos, he also has ties to two potential GM candidates: Eagles vice president of football operations Catherine Raîche, and Eagles director of player personnel Brandon Brown.

That being said, Gannon hasn't lit the world on fire during his first season as the Eagles' defensive coordinator. Philadelphia got off to a slow start, allowing 40 points in two of their first four games and an 80 percent completion percentage to five different quarterbacks this season.

The Eagles finished strong thanks to a schedule that saw them feast off Zach Wilson, Garrett Gilbert, Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm, but teams see something in the 39-year-old.

Kevin O'Connell

The final candidate goes back to the "hire someone that knows McVay" pipeline. That approach has worked well for the Packers (Matt LaFluer), Bengals (Zac Taylor) and Chargers (Brandon Staley) and could benefit the Vikings if they go with O'Connell.

The 36-year-old does not call plays for the Rams but has spent the past year turning Matthew Stafford into a darkhorse MVP candidate. Los Angeles ranks eighth in points and ninth in total offense this season, so if anything the Vikings could try and pick the brain of O'Connell to improve their own offense.

A third-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, O'Connell is an unknown. But if the Vikings want to make a surprise hire, there are worse coaching trees to tap into.

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