Vikings let several coaches go

January, 22, 2014
Jan 22
11:35
PM ET
MINNEAPOLIS -- As the Minnesota Vikings continue to fill out their coaching staff, they've started to let more of former coach Leslie Frazier's assistants know where they stand.

Defensive backs coach Joe Woods, who had been with the Vikings since Brad Childress took over as head coach in 2006, said new coach Mike Zimmer told him today he was going in a different direction. The Vikings reportedly will bring in former Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray as their defensive backs coach.

Woods said Zimmer has told a handful of coaches they'll get opportunities to interview for jobs on the Vikings' staff. Woods said he believed special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, wide receivers coach George Stewart and linebackers coach Fred Pagac are among those who will get interviews for jobs on Zimmer's staff.

The Vikings had blocked Davidson from interviewing for a job with the Atlanta Falcons, and a league source said on Tuesday that Davidson and Stewart both had solid chances to stay. Stewart, whose time as a receivers coach dates back to his work with Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens in San Francisco, had developed a relationship with rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, and could be brought back to continue his work with the talented wideout, among others.

Former offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave had already accepted a job as the Philadelphia Eagles' quarterbacks coach, and former quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson was announced on Wednesday as the New York Giants' running backs coach. Linebackers coach Mike Singletary had already informed the Vikings he was leaving, and defensive coordinator Alan Williams is believed to be joining Jim Caldwell's staff as a defensive backs coach in Detroit, after doing the same job for Caldwell when both were in Indianapolis.

Priefer, whom former punter Chris Kluwe alleged had made homophobic remarks during the 2012 season, could stay if an internal investigation clears him of any wrongdoing. He is well-respected around the league, having interviewed for the Chicago Bears' head coaching position last winter, and might retain his job based on the strong performances of return men like Patterson, Marcus Sherels and Percy Harvin over the years.

As for Woods, who presided over a secondary in transition after general manager Rick Spielman decided to cut Antoine Winfield last spring, the defensive backs coach said he didn't expect to be brought back. The Vikings allowed more points than any team in the league last season, and their secondary was a major reason why.

Woods was given the opportunity to go to the Senior Bowl with the Vikings' staff, but declined. He said he's talked to several other teams about jobs, but is still waiting to see where he'll land.

"I kind of anticipated it," he said of being let go by the Vikings. "When we played so poorly on defense, it seemed likely."

Zimmer has said he will announce his entire coaching staff at once, but the Vikings have already hired former Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner to run their offense, and former Miami Dolphins linebackers coach George Edwards to be their defensive coordinator. Turner's son Scott has reportedly been running the Vikings' quarterback interviews at the Senior Bowl, and Zimmer's son Adam -- who was the Bengals' defensive backs coach under his father last year -- appears to be a likely addition to the staff, as well.

Ben Goessling

ESPN Minnesota Vikings reporter

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