Out of the Darkness, Jim Harbaugh Enters the Mix of NFL Head Coaching Candidates
While the dominos are beginning to fall around the league, the Minnesota Vikings have continued their coaching search through this week. It appeared that we were getting a head-to-head matchup between the two favorite candidates: Niners DC Demeco Ryans and Rams OC Kevin O’Connell. However, out of nowhere it appears Jim Harbaugh has officially tossed his hat into the mix.
There are a couple things to note with this news. First of all, a Jim Harbaugh hire would not indicate that the Vikings are looking for a rebuild. Jim Harbaugh is the definition of an “all-in now” coach. If he were to leave the Wolverines, that would mean he’s spent four seasons at each of his last three stints with Stanford, San Francisco 49ers and Michigan. His first head coaching gig at San Diego lasted three years. Either Harbaugh gets bored and needs change, or his coaching style wears on players over time. There’s no reason to expect a stint with the Vikings to go any differently.
Secondly, a “win-now” move wouldn’t suggest that the Vikings plan on dumping off veterans, and that includes Kirk Cousins. This NFL Draft class does not exactly have stellar prospects. The only player that feels like he’s worth taking a swing on with a pick in the top half of the first round is Matt Corral, and there’s certainly a possibility that he goes in the top 10. Additionally, Kellen Mond is not ready to start at the NFL level yet. He needs at least another season of development before you can even think about making him a starter.
Not to mention that fact that Kirk Cousins would be the most talented passer that Harbaugh has ever worked with. Alex Smith was extremely accurate on four or five-yard checkdowns, but he never had a strong arm to threaten with passes over the top. Then Colin Kaepernick was dangerous because of his legs, but his pure passing ability wasn’t more than average. The trio of Cousins/Dalvin Cook/Adam Thielen is probably still on the roster in 2022 with Jim Harbaugh at head coach.
Overall, Harbaugh is a very intriguing option to return to the NFL as a head coach. There’s no question that players, at least early on, rally around his fiery attitude. He is also coming off an extremely impressive season of coaching with Michigan in which the Wolverines finally got over the hump with a Big 10 title. The Vikings need to think long and hard about the direction they want to go in, but if they want 2022 to be a competitive season, Harbaugh should be at the top of the list of candidates.