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4 Potential Replacements For Mike Zimmer As Vikings' Head Coach

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The Mike Zimmer era is officially over in Minnesota.

The Vikings fired their head coach of eight years Monday, along with general manager Rick Spielman.

The search now begins for replacements for both men. Here are a few potential candidates for the next Vikings' head coach.

Andre Patterson/h2>
Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - AUGUST 28: Co-Defensive Coordinator Andre Patterson of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during training camp on August 28, 2020 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Patterson coached the Vikings' defensive line in 1998, then returned to the team in the same position when Zimmer arrived. In 2020, he was promoted to co-defensive coordinator, then again in 2021 to assistant head coach.

Patterson helped develop mid-round draft picks like Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter into legitimate defensive stars, while maximizing free agent signings like Linval Joseph and Tom Johnson.

Though the Vikings' defense took a step back the past two seasons, he was a vital part of the 2017-18 team, which helped carry the Case Keenum-led offense to the NFC Championship game. The defense ranked No. 1 in points and yards allowed that season.

Patterson is well-liked by players and well-respected around the league. If the Vikings look for an in-house candidate, they couldn't do much better than Patterson.

Eric Bieniemy/h2>
NFL: NOV 07 Packers at Chiefs
KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 07: Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy after an NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs on Nov 7, 2021 at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Currently the offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs, Bieniemy is one of the most popular head coaching candidates in the league.

He joined the Chiefs the same year Patrick Mahomes took over as starting quarterback, and the two have collaborated to torch the NFL for four straight seasons. Mahomes won the MVP award in 2018 and the Chiefs were Super Bowl champions in the 2020-21 season.

The Chiefs have ranked first, fifth, sixth and fourth in points scored since 2018.

Bieniemy also has history in Minnesota, having coached the Vikings' running backs from 2006-2010.

After a lack of success with a defensive-minded coach in Zimmer, the Vikings may swing the other way and hope an offensive mastermind like Bieniemy can right the ship.

Brian Flores/h2>
New York Jets v Miami Dolphins
MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 19: Head coach Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins looks on from the side line during the game against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium on December 19, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

While Zimmer's firing was forecast long before it occurred, Flores' ousting as Miami Dolphins head coach came as a surprise. After a disappointing 5-11 inaugural season in 2019, Flores led Miami to 19 wins in 2020 and 2021.

After starting 1-7 this season, the Dolphins went 8-1 the rest of the way. They beat a resurgent Bill Belichick-coached Patriots team twice.

Flores is another coach with a good reputation among players. The Vikings may be wise to give him a well-deserved second chance.

Brian Daboll

Carolina Panthers v Buffalo Bills
ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 19: Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll before a game against the Carolina Panthers at Highmark Stadium on December 19, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

Daboll is another offensive coordinator getting a lot of buzz for a head coaching gig. Over the last two year, his Buffalo Bills offense has ranked second and third in points scored.

After a pedestrian first two seasons in the league, quarterback Josh Allen has become a top-tier starter under Daboll's tutelage, throwing for 73 touchdowns and only 25 interceptions the last two years. Allen has also scored 31 rushing touchdowns in four years with Daboll.

If the Vikings plan to move on from Kirk Cousins and hand the offense to a young quarterback -- or simply want to try and maximize Cousins' potential -- Daboll would be a great option at head coach.

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