Drew Petzing

Vikings Hire Rick Dennison

Previously rumored to be following Gary Kubiak to Minnesota, Rick Dennison made it official. After a lengthy delay, the Vikings announced Dennison will serve as their offensive line coach.

Dennison became connected to this role when Kubiak accepted an assistant head coach position with the Vikings, but the Jets and Packers expressed interest in Dennison. The former Texans, Broncos and Bills OC coached the Jets’ offensive linemen last season.

The 2019 season will mark Dennison’s 18th season on staff with Kubiak, whose return as the Broncos’ OC was scuttled due to wanting to bring former Denver assistants Dennison and Brian Pariani — now the Vikings’ tight ends coach — back to Denver as part of his offensive staff. The Broncos preferred Mike Munchak be their offensive line coach instead and ended up going in that direction, severing ties with Kubiak.

Dennison, who will also serve as Minnesota’s run game coordinator, worked with the Broncos from 1995-2009 and again from 2015-16. The Bills fired him as OC after the 2017 season. This will be a key position gig for the 60-year-old coach, with the Vikings’ struggles up front playing a key role in the team missing the playoffs after it entered last season as a Super Bowl contender.

Previous Vikings offensive line coach Andrew Janocko will stay on staff. He will now work under Dennison as assistant O-line coach, the Vikings announced. Janocko served as Minnesota’s assistant O-line coach in 2017, serving under Tony Sparano. After Sparano’s 2018 death, the Vikings promoted Janocko.

The team also announced Drew Petzing will have a new title, rising from assistant quarterbacks coach to head wideouts coach. Petzing served as Minnesota’s assistant receivers coach from 2016-17.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Staff Notes: Chargers, 49ers, Falcons, Colts

Former Falcons defensive coordinator Richard Smith is interviewing for the Chargers‘ linebackers coach position, according to Jack Wang of the Orange County Register. Smith was fired by Atlanta on Wednesday after leading a defense that finished just 27th in DVOA, but linebackers are his specialty, as he’s coached the position at four other NFL stops. Smith’s interview could mean Los Angeles expects Robert Saleh, the team’s other candidate for ‘backers coach, to land the 49ers DC gig.

Here’s more from the 2017 hiring cycle:

  • New 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has lured yet another former Falcons staffer to San Francisco, as ex-Atlanta assistant Mike LaFleur will be the 49ers’ next wide receivers coach, tweets Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. LaFleur, who spent the previous two seasons with the Falcons after working in Cleveland during the 2014 campaign, is the brother of Matt LaFleur, who recently left Atlanta to become the Rams’ offensive coordinator. The 49ers also announced they’ve hired Nick Kray (administrative assistant to the head coach), T.C. McCartney (offensive assistant), and Ray Wright (strength and conditioning).
  • Although Chris Ballard left Kansas City to become the Colts‘ new general manager, Chiefs GM John Dorsey doesn’t expect Ballard to poach any KC staffers “right now,” tweets Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star. Typically, an executive will try to bring at least a few low-level front office employees along to a new job, but it sounds like Ballard will be starting from scratch, and rolling with the incumbent Indianapolis staff for the time being.
  • The Falcons promoted Marquand Manuel to defensive coordinator earlier today, but that wasn’t the only change the club made to its defensive staff. As expected, Bryant Young has been named as Atlanta’s defensive line coach, replacing the fired Bryan Cox, while defensive assistant Doug Mallory has been promoted to secondary coach, taking over for Manuel, the club announced today.
  • Broncos assistant defensive backs backs coach Samson Brown had been set to join ex-Denver coordinator Wade Phillips on the Rams‘ coaching staff, but he’s experienced a last-minute change of heart and will be staying in Denver, per Marvez (Twitter link). It’s unclear how Brown’s decision will affect longtime NFL coach Johnnie Lynn, who was reportedly hired to replace Brown with the Broncos.
  • The Buccaneers have made a series of changes to their coaching staff and personnel department, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, who reports the Bucs have promoted Zack Grossi to offensive quality control coach, hired Anthony Perkins to replace Grossi as the club’s assistant to the head coach, and hired former NFL tight end Alex Smith as a pro scout. Tampa Bay has also hired Skyler Fulton as an offensive assistant, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com.
  • Vikings offensive assistant Drew Petzing could be a candidate for the club’s vacant wide receivers coach role, reports Andrew Kramer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Twitter link). Longtime Minnesota WRs coach George Stewart defected for the Chargers earlier this offseason.