New OL Coach Davidson Brings Experience, Pedigree To Vikings

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 20, 2011 – 4:21 pm

Leslie Frazier has won a Super Bowl as both a player and a coach, and in his effort to guide the Vikings to a Super Bowl Frazier is surrounding himself with others who experienced success in the NFL. The latest example is Jeff Davidson, who has been hired by Frazier to be the Vikings OL coach.

Perhaps Vikings fans are unfamiliar with Davidson’s name, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t qualified for the job. In Davidson, Frazier has added an individual with a wide array of experience and a pedigree of being around successful football programs.

Before his coaching career began, Davidson attended and played football at Ohio State University, where he was a guard and was also named co-captain as a senior; Davidson’s father, Jim, also played at Ohio State and was both an All-American and captain. Davidson was a 5th-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 1990 and played 5 seasons in the Mile High City as both a LG and LT, where he was a part of a division-winning team that advanced to the AFC Championship Game following the 1991 season.

Davidson’s coaching career began in New Orleans (1995-96) and he’s also spent time with the Cleveland Browns (2005-06). But his 2 most notable stops have been with the New England Patriots (1997-2004) and the Carolina Panthers (2007-10).

With the Patriots, Davidson held titles of TEs coach, assistant OL coach and TEs/Assistant OL. As a member of Bill Belichick’s staff beginning in 2000, Davidson was part of Patriots teams that won 3 Super Bowls.

Most recently, though, Davidson was Carolina’s offensive coordinator. During Davidson’s 4 seasons in Carolina, the Panthers featured an explosive and dynamic rushing attack, something the Vikings will look to maintain with Adrian Peterson at RB.  In 2008 and 2009, the Panthers were led on the ground by DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, highlighted by Williams’ franchise-record 1,515 yards and 18 rushing TDs in 2008. Davidson also had a pair of offensive linemen earn Pro Bowl honors in Ryan Kalil at center in 2009 and Jordan Gross at tackle in 2008.

“One of the things I really liked about Jeff is that they were able to find a way with DeAngelo Williams along with Jonathan Stewart, to have two 1,000-yard rushers in the same backfield,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said on Thursday. “As you know, we have two outstanding backs in our minds with Adrian being the premier back in the National Football League and then Toby Gerhart, who’s a guy we have high hopes for. To be able to find a guy who understands and knows how to incorporate two very good backs in the run game was something that really kind of got my interest and I think it’s going to be a plus for us, the success they had running the football down in Carolina.”

Davidson wasn’t a Hall of Fame-caliber player and he’s not a household coaching name in Minnesota, but he is an individual who’s been on successful and Super Bowl-winning coaching staffs that have featured both talented offensive lines and powerful rushing attacks. With the Vikings, Davidson has the personnel in place to retool an offensive line that features talented and capable players. Davidson will also be a good teacher for any new offensive linemen the Vikings may bring in this offseason via free agency and the draft process.

Now it’s a matter of Davidson using that experience and pedigree to get the job done.

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Musgrave Is Right Fit For Vikings Offensive Coordinator Position

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 20, 2011 – 11:17 am

While conducting a press conference on Thursday to announce additions to his coaching staff, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier told reporters that he considered the offensive coordinator position one of his most important hires because of the focus he’ll maintain on the defensive side of the ball.

With that said, Frazier’s decision to tab Bill Musgrave as his offensive coordinator makes sense.

Musgrave’s name may not be household in Minnesota, but that doesn’t mean he’s not the right fit for the job. In fact, Musgrave’s career background makes him an excellent fit. He played QB in the NFL and is now an 11-year NFL coaching veteran, most recently serving as the assistant head coach/QBs coach with the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons were 13-3 in 2010 and earned the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs before dropping a game in the Divisional Round to the Green Bay Packers.

In Atlanta, Musgrave worked closely with a pair of successful QB projects. Matt Schaub began his career in Atlanta and eventually signed a big contract to be the Houston Texans starter. Musgrave’s latest pupil was Matt Ryan, the #3 overall pick of Atlanta’s in 2008. While it’d be disingenuous to say Musgrave is the only reason for the development of those 2 star QBs, it’s also more than appropriate to give Musgrave credit for his work with each player.

Aside from his work with young QBs, something the Vikings will surely do in the near future, Frazier said another appealing aspect of Musgrave is his ability to think globally in terms of offensive scheme, rather than be married to one way of doing things. Musgrave has extensive experience with the West Coast offense, but Frazier said it was clear to him in speaking with Musgrave that the new offensive coordinator will look to a variety of schematic strategies to best utilize the offensive talent on the roster.

“To be able to combine the things that he learned in that West Coast system along with the things he picked up with Joe Gibbs and some of the other coaches he’s been around, when we sat and talked, and we’ve talked for a number of years about the potential of us being able to work together, the fact that wasn’t tied to one system but he could see globally, that was important to me. We have a multitude of weapons on our offense and sometimes you can get so tied up in a system that you don’t see the forest through the trees. It was important to me that he understood the importance of utilizing the strengths of our players on our offense, and he was able to exemplify that in our conversation.

“I’ve seen them do it in Atlanta with (offensive coordinator) Mike Mularkey, so I knew that he had an idea of how it could happen. And once we sat down and talked about it, I was convinced he was the right man for the job.”

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