MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings have started the second week of their search for a head coach, and there’s plenty of competition for time on their calendar.
The Vikings asked to interview Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, the younger brother of former NFL head coach and current ESPN game analyst Jon Gruden. But Jay Gruden told reporters in Cincinnati on Monday that Tennessee and Washington also have requested permission. A person with knowledge of the process, speaking on condition of anonymity because the teams have not made information about the search public, told the Associated Press that Detroit has inquired, too.
The Vikings fired Leslie Frazier last week and will be making their third head coach hire in eight years, the first by general manager Rick Spielman. Though Houston and Tampa Bay have already filled their jobs, the Vikings still have four other teams interested in many of the same candidates.
Spielman was in Arizona on Monday to meet with Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, according John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance. Bowles previously interviewed with Cleveland. Wooten also said Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton was scheduled to meet with Spielman in Arizona on Tuesday.
The Vikings and Redskins asked for interviews with San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman, the NFL Network reported; 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh confirmed interest in Roman but declined to specify which teams. The Vikings were one of four teams, along with the Lions, Titans and Redskins, who requested interviews with San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, according to a report by CBS Sports.
The Vikings interviewed Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn over the weekend, ESPN reported. Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is also expected to be on Spielman’s list, now that the Bengals are eliminated.
NFL rules allow assistant coaches on playoff teams that won wild-card games to be interviewed this week before being put off-limits again until those teams are finished. That includes the 49ers and Chargers, with Roman and Whisenhunt.
Bowles and Horton are black. NFL teams are required to interview at least one minority candidate, known as “The Rooney Rule,” a product of the push for diversity by Pittsburgh owner Dan Rooney. The Fritz Pollard Alliance, based in Washington, is designed to promote candidate development for coaching, front office and scouting jobs in the NFL. The FPA’s strategic efforts include advocacy for and marketing of the hiring and promotion of minorities among NFL teams.
Bevell, of course, was the Vikings’ offensive coordinator under Brad Childress from 2006-10. Frazier decided not to keep him when he was given the job, hiring Bill Musgrave instead, but Bevell has shined in Seattle working with young quarterback Russell Wilson.
Gruden has a productive record working with the Bengals, though they’ve gone one and done in the playoffs in each of his three seasons there. Gruden said he’d “assume” he’ll do all of the interviews requested of him. He said he wasn’t sure about the Lions, however.
“Every interview process I went on last year was different, and they all are a bit intimidating,” Gruden said. “But you just have to have confident in who you are. My whole thing is I’m always going to be myself. I’m never going to try to be somebody else or pretend to be something I’m not. And if that appeals to them, then great. And if not, I’m quite happy where I’m at.”