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Division Rival Bears Hire Former Vikings Assistant As New Head Coach

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 16, 2013 – 7:14 am

The NFC North will welcome a new head coach to the mix in 2013, as the Chicago Bears have concluded their extensive search by hiring for NFL assistant and Canadian Football League (CFL) head coach Marc Trestman. A coach at the major college and professional level since 1981, including a pair of stints with the Vikings, Trestman brings with him a wealth of coaching experience and offensive acumen to the Windy City and will be the 14th  head coach in Chicago Bears history.

Trestman spent the previous 5 seasons as head coach of the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes, where he was named CFL Coach of the Year in 2009 and won back-to-back Grey Cups in 2009 and 2010. Prior to his success in the CFL, Trestman was an NFL assistant for 17 seasons. He was the Vikings RBs coach in 1985 and 1986, and then returned to the Vikings in 1990 and 1991 as QBs coach. His best work may have come in San Francisco in 1995 and 1996, though. He was San Francisco’s Offensive Coordinator and QBs coach in 1995 when the 49ers led the NFL with 457 points and 4,779 passing yards, working closely with a pair of Hall of Famers in Steve Young, who threw for 3,200 yards and 20 TDs, and Jerry Rice, who caught 122 passes for an NFL-record 1,848 yards and 15 TDs.

As Vikings fans surely know, Trestman is not the first former CFL coach to join the NFL. Perhaps the greatest figure in Vikings history, Bud Grant, spent 10 years as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ head coach before taking the head coaching job in Minnesota in 1967. Also, former Buffalo Bills Head Coach Marv Levy came to the NFL from the CFL.

There were reports that a pair of current Vikings assistants – Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer and Special Assistant to the Head Coach/co-LBs coach Mike Singletary – both interviewed for the Bears head coaching vacancy.


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Lining Up The Vikings Linebacker Position

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 11, 2011 – 5:46 am

This week on the vikings.com Blog, we’re breaking down the Vikings roster position-by-position to give fans a comprehensive assessment of the team as the first preseason game – this Saturday night in Tennessee – approaches. We’ve already looked at the offensive line, defensive line, tight ends, defensive backs and wide receivers. Up next: the linebackers.

The Vikings LB corps will welcome one new starter and will have a new position coach in 2011. But the presence of veterans Chad Greenway and E.J. Henderson brings so much stability to the position that those two transitions will be a piece of cake. Add in the fact that the new position coach is Hall of Famer Mike Singletary and the new starter is E.J. Henderson’s younger brother, Erin, and you can see the Vikings LB group is in great shape.

Greenway and Henderson have starting positions in both the base and nickel packages on lockdown. Both guys have been tackling machines during their Vikings careers and you can expect more of the same in 2011, especially if new DT Remi Ayodele can be the run-stuffer everyone expects. Talented run-stuffing DTs, such as Kevin Williams and Ayodele, help to protect LBs from offensive linemen and allow those LBs to collect bunches of tackles.

It’s going to take quite the combination of events to wrestle the third starting spot away from Erin Henderson. He’s worked his way up the roster, beginning as an undrafted rookie free agent and eventually improving so much that the Vikings felt comfortable with allowing Ben Leber to leave via free agency so Henderson could fill the vacated role.

As solid as those three starters are going to be for the Vikings, the depth behind them is just as strong. Jasper Brinkley, who filled in admirably for Henderson during the Vikings run to the NFC title game in 2009, continues to develop and will be the backup middle (MIKE) LB. He’s also getting some run at Erin Henderson’s spot with the first-team defense. Heath Farwell is another who is firmly entrenched on the second-team and will of course be a pillar of the special teams unit.

In the nickel packages, Greenway and E.J. Henderson are on the first-team. Brinkley has played on second-team nickel with Farwell and Erin Henderson splitting reps.

An obvious omission from the discussion so far is Kenny Onatolu. He’s another special teams ace who will be a key reserve in the LB group, but he hasn’t participated much in training camp to date because of a foot injury. Even without camp, I think Onatolu has shown enough during his time with the Vikings that coaches will give him every opportunity to earn a roster spot once he is able to practice again.

In the meantime, rookie Ross Homan is taking the reps that Onatolu would normally see. He might be a smidgen undersized, but Homan is an instinctual player with a ton of grit and perhaps some special teams capability. After that, the Vikings have Larry Dean, Jonathan Gilmore and Mark Washington battling for time.

As is the case with every position we’ve analyze in this series, the depth chart still has some fluidity to it. Singletary and the defensive staff are still experimenting with different combinations and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer could have some say in the matter also. Because of their aggressiveness and athleticism, LBs are typically a major part of special teams groups.


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Lots To Check Out On vikings.com

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 21, 2011 – 6:48 am

With the NFL in a work stoppage and the great action of college basketball’s March Madness, it’s understandable if you let a few updates on vikings.com slip through the cracks over the weekend. But now that it’s Monday morning and a new week has begun, it’s time to get you caught up.

We’re here to help.

Mock Madness 2.0 is up and there are several notable changes to the mock drafts of NFL insiders.
— This week’s Monday Morning Mailbag tackles several topics, including the idea of trading Adrian Peterson (I fell off my chair when I first saw it, too) and a look at what other teams have received for trading back in the 1st round of the NFL Draft.
Last week’s edition of Vikings Weekly took a close look at new Vikings LBs coach Mike Singletary and current Vikings LB Jasper Brinkley.
Minnesota lost a football legend last week with the passing of former Vikings assistant coach and University of Minnesota Golden Gophers Head Coach Murray Warmath.
— NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to NFL players.


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Singletary, Brinkley Featured On Vikings Weekly

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 17, 2011 – 10:43 am

I caught a sneak peak of this week’s edition of Vikings Weekly, which is hosted by Ann Carroll and has been moved to vikings.com for the offseason. Each week we post a new show as Ann continues to keep Vikings fans plugged in to their favorite team during the offseason.

I thought this week’s edition was worth a special note here because Ann has a great conversation with new LBs Coach Mike Singletary and then also takes a close look at what LB Jasper Brinkley is up to this offseason. We all know by now that Singletary and Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier were teammates with the Chicago Bears and won a Super Bowl together, so it was interesting to hear Singletary talk about what the opportunity to be a head coach means to Frazier and what it takes to build a Super Bowl winner.

“I think it means a lot,” Singletary said of Frazier’s opportunity to be a head coach in the NFL. “He’s worked his tail off to try and put himself in a situation to be a head coach. Certainly not in this way, but being that it happened, you want to make the most of it.”

As for winning a Super Bowl, Singletary said: “I think the biggest thing is just building it. Having the time to build it. Having the personnel and getting the mentality of having guys understand what it takes to have that kind of team and the price that it takes to get it there. So it really is a mindset more than anything else and sometimes in today’s culture it just takes a little bit longer than normal to get it done.”

Singletary talks about a few other interesting topics, including what attracted him to Minnesota besides his relationship with Frazier, but I don’t want to put the quotes here because you should catch the Vikings Weekly episode.

As for Brinkley, Ann goes in-depth on his quest this offseason to accomplish a life-long goal: graduate from college. Brinkley headed back to the University of South Carolina this offseason to finish the task. He explains that he’ll be the first person in his family to earn a degree and he also discusses what he plans to do with that degree at some point down the line.

This week’s edition of Vikings Weekly will be posted first thing on Friday morning, so be sure to check it out.


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vikings.com Arrives In Indianapolis

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 23, 2011 – 1:34 pm

The vikings.com team that consists of yours truly and videographer extraordinaire Jordan Struck has arrived in Indianapolis and we’re getting settled in to start bringing you non-stop and comprehensive coverage of the 2011 Scouting Combine from Lucas Oil Stadium.

Traveling from Minneapolis to Indianapolis on Delta Airlines was excellent and we arrived to our hotel, which is located just a few minutes walk from the stadium, right on schedule. Several Vikings personnel were on this morning’s flight, including special assistant to the head coach/LBs coach Mike Singletary, OL coach Jeff Davidson and assistant offensive line coach Ryan Silverfield, TEs coach Jimmie Johnson and a few others. The rest of the Vikings contingent has either already arrived or will be arriving over the next day or two.

Remember, not every player invited to the Combine arrives at the same time. The players are divided into their position groups and then those position groups come to the Combine on a staggered schedule. So that obviously impacts when certain assistant coaches arrive to do their work at the event.

I also spent quite a while visiting at the airport and in the cab ride to the hotel with former Vikings assistant coach Dean Dalton. A guy who spent a long time in the coaching profession, Dalton now takes his expertise to the air waves and is a host on Sirius NFL Radio. It’s chats with guys such as Dalton that really makes the Combine fun over the span of a few days. It’s routine to run into local and especially national football media members and it’s fun to get their opinions on certain matters.

That’s about it for now. Jordan and I are going to head to the stadium to film a quick segment and that will be made available to you for viewing in some form or another over then next 24 hours. We’ll have that and much, much more from the Combine so be sure to constantly check back to vikings.com and the vikings.com Blog for more.


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Frazier: Adding Singletary A “Coup” For Organization

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 21, 2011 – 11:52 am

Assembling a coaching staff is an exciting proposition for a new coach but it’s also an arduous process that requires attention to detail, respect for relationships and patience. Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier experienced this in recent weeks as he built his staff, an effort that is nearly complete.

But there is one new coach in particular whose path to the Vikings was an easy one to navigate – Mike Singletary.

Singletary, a longtime friend of Frazier’s from their days playing together in Chicago, joins the coaching staff as special assistant to the head coach/LBs coach. He was most recently the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers and has also coached on the Baltimore Ravens staff. Singletary is most-known for his days as a dominant Bears LB, though, and he’ll look to bring his expertise in that area to the Vikings LB corps.

“Of course, adding our Special Assistant to the Head Coach Mike Singletary is a great coup for our organization,” Frazier said on Thursday. “Mike and I have a long history together, going back to our playing days. We’ve always stayed in touch, even when he wasn’t coaching.”

Aside from tutoring the LBs, though, Singletary will add value as a reliable resource for Frazier as he embarks on his first full-time head coaching gig in the NFL.

“I have a guy now who has head coaching experience that I can use as a sounding board as I’m making decisions regarding our team and our personnel,” Frazier explained. “It should be a great addition to our football team. Of course a great player in his own right, but his experience should really help me as a coach as well.”

While a great deal of effort and even sometimes persuasion is used to attract potential assistant coaches to a team, the process was a bit easier with Singletary because of the great relationship he shares with Frazier.

“I called him up and interviewed him on the phone,” Frazier explained. “I said, ‘Hey man, you want to come out here and help me out, help us win a championship?’ Mike Singletary, that was his interview.”

Singletary had a similar explanation of how the process unfolded.

“With Leslie, there is no persuading at all,” Singletary said. “You’ve got to have a little patience in terms of what we were trying to do here. Leslie is a guy that has an incredible amount of integrity with me and we’ve been friends for a long time. So there was no persuading at all.

“It’s a matter of me asking him or him asking me, that’s all it would take.”


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Reaction From Musgrave, Pagac, Priefer And Singletary

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 19, 2011 – 4:43 pm

The Vikings announced the hiring of 3 assistant coaches on Wednesday, as new head coach Leslie Frazier continues to round out his staff. We’ve rounded up reaction from a few of those assistant coaches as they begin the next stage of their careers with the Vikings.

Bill Musgrave
“The organization is first class all the way and Leslie Frazier is first class all the way. The players on the offensive side of the ball are very attractive to be associated with. I’m looking forward to utilizing their strengths to get fantastic results. The offensive weapons on this squad are impressive. We as a staff will look forward to utilizing each and every one of them to attack defenses. I first met Leslie about 10 years ago when he was in Philadelphia and we’ve stayed in touch over the years. I look forward to working with him here and moving forward.”

Fred Pagac
“I’m very excited for the opportunity and I think we can get on the right track quickly. I’m excited about our players and staff and think that keeping continuity is very important. It helps everyone involved, the players and coaches both. The players know us, what our expectations are and we have a staff that works well together.”

Mike Priefer
About joining the Vikings: “I’m honored to come to the Minnesota Vikings organization and to work with Coach Frazier. I’m excited to work with the rest of the coaching staff, players and the entire organization. It is a great opportunity for me and I know my family is excited about getting up there and I’m ready to help us win a championship.”

On Current Special Teams Players: “The punting situation is outstanding. We have a great snapper in Cullen Loeffler and have had a great kicker in Ryan Longwell over the years. I have kind of been envious of the core special teams guys here in Minnesota. We had some good players in Denver but I know there are some outstanding players there in Minnesota and I look forward to working with them.”

Scoring on special teams and his style of play: “I have put more of an emphasis on the coverage units. We did a lot of good things in Denver the past couple of years but the scoring (on special teams) has a lot to do with the guys that we have on the units and obviously on the returner. If you have a good returner you have a great opportunity to score or at least give your offense great field position every single time you go out there. That is going to be a big thing working with Percy Harvin, Lorenzo Booker and Greg Camarillo. For me I like to emphasize; toughness, discipline, enthusiasm and effort. Those are the four core words that I use when I talk about special teams play.”

Playing at Mall of America Field: “I’m very excited to play at Mall of America Field, especially late in the year. Having a domed stadium is a definite advantage I think for both teams. You have to look at it as a kicking advantage for your guys that do that every week. Also you have to understand that the people coming in are going to change what they do slightly. I’ve always had a little bit of a different game plan when playing indoors.”

Mike Singletary
“It’s a great honor and a tremendous opportunity that I would have a chance to coach with Leslie,” Singletary said. “He’s a quality coach and I know that to be a part of something that he’s doing is special. When I look at what they have put together as an organization they have a lot of the pieces in place to do some special things. I’m excited to come there and be a part of that and help take it to the next level.”


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