The Minnesota Vikings have named Kevin Stefanski offensive coordinator.
Stefanski took over as offensive coordinator on an interim basis after the team fired former OC John DeFilippo back in December.
“Kevin is a smart young coach with a bright future,” said Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. “I’m happy to have him take over the offensive coordinator job. His work ethic and teaching ability have been obvious to me behind the scenes since I came here five years ago. He’s well respected by coaches and players both and I know he’s up to the task.”
Stefanski, the longest-tenured coach on the Vikings staff, completed his 13th season with the club in 2018 and has coached quarterbacks, tight ends and running backs in his dozen-plus seasons with the team. Stefanski served as the quarterbacks coach in 2017 and 2018 before being elevated to interim offensive coordinator for the final three games of the 2018 season.
In Stefanski’s first season working with quarterback Kirk Cousins, the veteran had a career year setting season bests in completion percentage (70.1 percent) and passing touchdowns (30) and threw the fewest interceptions (10) since becoming a full-time starter in 2015. Cousins reached benchmarks under the tutelage of Stefanski that no other quarterback in NFL history had, becoming the first ever to throw for at least 4,000 yards, at least 30 passing touchdowns, 10 or fewer interceptions and complete at least 70.0 percent of his passes in a season.
In Week 15 vs. the Dolphins, Stefanski’s first game as interim offensive coordinator, he guided the Vikings offense to a season-high 41 points and 418 yards of offense in a win over Miami. In his second game calling plays, a 27-9 road win at Detroit, Stefanski led the offense to 340 yards of offense and 27 points, giving the Vikings consecutive games of at least 27 points and at least 100 rushing yards for only the second time in a single season since Mike Zimmer was hired as head coach in 2014.
From 2009-13, Stefanski served as the Vikings assistant quarterbacks coach prior to coaching tight ends (2014-15) and running backs (2016) in Minnesota.
Stefanski started his Vikings career working directly with then-Head Coach Brad Childress on administrative duties and special projects from 2006-08. Stefanski became acquainted with Childress during Philadelphia Eagles training camp in 2005 while working with the team’s operations department.
Stefanski spent the 2005 season at his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, as assistant director of football operations. He coordinated all aspects of the Quaker football team’s day-to-day operations of the football team.
A team captain as a senior in 2004, Stefanski was part of one of the most successful stretches in the history of the Quakers football program. The team won Ivy League titles in 2000, 2002 and 2003, and the squad went undefeated in league play during 2002 and 2003.
Twice honored as an Honorable Mention All-Ivy choice in 2002 and 2004, he was named Penn’s Defensive Rookie of the Year as a freshman in 2000. During Stefanski’s tenure, the squad posted a 42-7 overall record and a 32-3 mark in Ivy League play. When Stefanski was a senior, the Quakers went 10-0 to become the 1st undefeated Penn team in a decade.
2000-04……………….. Pennsylvania // DB
2005……………………. Pennsylvania // Football Operations
2006-08……………….. Minnesota Vikings // Assistant to the Head Coach
2009-13……………….. Minnesota Vikings // Assistant Quarterbacks
2014-15……………….. Minnesota Vikings // Tight Ends
2016……………………. Minnesota Vikings // Running Backs
2017-18……………….. Minnesota Vikings // Quarterbacks (Interim Offensive Coordinator for the final three games of 2018)
2019……………………. Minnesota Vikings // Offensive Coordinator
When the Minnesota Vikings signed QB Kirk Cousins this offseason to a three-year, $84 million deal, the thought was they finally solved their issues at the quarterback position. However, while Cousins(3698 yards, 24TDs/9 interceptions) has put up decent numbers this season, the Vikings’ offense has struggled at times, including their 21-7 loss to the Seahawks in Seattle on Monday night. Minnesota was shutout for most of the game until they scored a touchdown late in the contest.
On Tuesday, the Vikings decided to make a change on offense. The team fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo. Vikings Quarterbacks Coach Kevin Stefanski has been elevated to Interim Offensive Coordinator and will take over play-calling duties.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer discussed why Minnesota made a change at offensive coordinator:
Here is what Zimmer had to say to the assembled media about the firing of DeFilippo and more:
Zimmer: “First of all, as you know we’ve relieved John DeFilippo as the offensive coordinator. John is a good football coach. He is a good man, hard worker. Was a very difficult decision. I felt like we always had really good dialogue. I felt like there was a sense of urgency here in the last three weeks of the season of trying to improve, offensively especially, and trying to win these final three games of the season. I made the decision to do that and then promote Kevin [Stefanski] as the offensive coordinator.”
Q: What are some of your specific concerns the way the offense was heading under Coach DeFilippo?
Zimmer: “I just didn’t think we were making enough advancement in this part of the season to continue to go forward the way we want to go forward. I’m not going to get into specifics about some of the things. I just felt it was in the best interest of the team to make this move now.”
Q: Was there anything in the past couple of weeks that brought this decision on?
Zimmer: “No, not really. At the end of the day it is a production business. It’s difficult. It’s hard thinking about it, hard making the decision, hard trying to. I have a lot of respect for John. I think he is a very, very brilliant mind. But we weren’t producing is the end of it.”
Q: What will the learning curve be like for Kevin Stefanski to pick up play calling and what kind of help will he have from yourself and other staff members?
Zimmer: “I think the biggest thing with Kevin is he has been here for a long time so he knows how we do things here, number one. Number two, I think he has a good grasp of his players. Kevin is a very brilliant guy. I interviewed him for the coordinator job this past offseason. We’ve got a lot of smart guys in that room. I will try to help him the best I can and so will everybody else and hopefully the players will, too. This really wasn’t about one guy. This was about a lot of us not holding up our end of the bargain. It was more of a corrective thing than anything else. It’s unfortunate in this business but sometimes it looks like it was one guy but it really isn’t.”
Q: Will your role change in the involvement in the offense?
Zimmer: “Yes, I will be a little bit more involved. We’ve talked about that some.”
Q: Are there certain things you are going to want to see Kevin do differently?
Zimmer: “I think everybody is going to be a little bit different with what they are doing, when they’re calling plays, when they’re game planning. So I think everybody is going to be a little bit different with what they are doing. I am not going to discuss it, what I think and what I want.”
Q: What are the challenges this week in making the transition and does it help you’ve experienced this two years ago?
Zimmer: “I don’t think two years ago has anything to do with this year. Kevin has been here so he has been through all of this. He knows the ins and outs of everything that is going on there. I don’t think two years ago has anything to do with this year. That wasn’t my decision two years ago.”
Q: Did you talk to some of the players to get their input before making this decision?
Zimmer: “No, not really. I’m always talking to players, but this was my decision. It wasn’t anybody else’s as far as players or other coaches or anything like that. I just felt like in the best interest of the team in these last three weeks, which are important weeks for us during the season, we had to shake things up and try to get better as a football team together. I didn’t feel like we were going in that direction based on the past four or five weeks. And really honestly, it wasn’t about one game. It’s about the direction we were going throughout the latter part of the season.”
Q: Is it fair to say that Kevin Stefanski is auditioning for the long-term offensive coordinator job, or are you still going to want to do a search regardless?
Zimmer: “I don’t know, we’ll see how things develop here. Obviously it would be in his best interest to do well.”
Q: When you look at the overall situation, how disappointed are you that you’ve had to come to this decision after thinking you made the right hire in the offseason?
Zimmer: It was an extremely difficult decision. I went around and around about it, because “I feel like I hired him, it’s my job to try to help him continue to get better. I obviously didn’t do a good enough job there. I’ve always felt like if you hire a guy you should stick with him and try to help him and help him mature as a coach. This one unfortunately with the timing and the situation with the last three ballgames here, with us still having an opportunity to do something, I felt like I don’t want the season to be wasted. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t, but these three games to me are very, very critical and we need to play good. Again, it’s not just one person, it doesn’t fall all on him, it falls on myself and everybody else that has anything to do with this team, because we didn’t get it done. It was an extremely difficult day and extremely difficult decision.”
Q: Was there anything about Kirk Cousins’ play last night that played a role in this decision?
Zimmer: “No, not really. There was a lot of things that happened offensively last night that was not good enough play. I wouldn’t put that all on the quarterback. There were times where we didn’t get in the right situations, and there were times where we didn’t get open in other situations. This really didn’t have anything to do with the quarterback or last night.”
Q: How much does it help Kevin Stefanski to have coached so many different position groups throughout his time with the team?
Zimmer: “I think anytime you’ve been involved in the running game and the passing game and the protection game with the tight ends, I think that always helps. He’s a well-rounded coach, and hopefully we can get this thing turned around.”
Q: With Kevin Stefanksi’s involvement with Pat Shurmur’s offensive scheme in previous years, do you see some of those principles being reincorporated?
Zimmer: “That’s a possibility. I’m not going to get into it, because I don’t want to say what we’re going to do moving forward, but I think when guys get a chance to do their thing they take little pieces and bits of everything they’ve felt was good, whether it’s from John [DeFilippo] or Pat [Shurmur] or anybody else.”