Vikings Request Interview with Saints Coach

On Saturday evening, the Minnesota Vikings expanded their search for their next defensive coordinator. After extending a request to the Pittsburgh Steelers for an interview with Brian Flores, and now, the Vikings request an interview with New Orleans Saints co-defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen.

The Vikings are on the search for a replacement for their 2022 coordinator Ed Donatell, who they fired this past week. Nielsen is a bit of an under-the-radar candidate for this job, but the production that the Saints defense has experienced with him on the staff is impressive. Since he arrived with the team in 2017, the Saints have never ranked worse than 14th in scoring defense.

Oct 20, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; New Orleans Saints co defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2022 was Nielsen’s first season in the role of co-defensive coordinator, and in that role, he helped the Saints rank ninth in points allowed and fifth in yards allowed. In his previous five seasons with New Orleans, he was the defensive line coach.

However, Nielsen’s coaching experience goes further back than that. He got started in 2002 with USC as a volunteer assistant, and since then, he’s also held various defensive roles at Ole Miss, Central Connecticut State, Tennessee-Martin, Northern Illinois, and NC State.

Nov 17, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 43-year-old doesn’t have any experience with Kevin O’Connell, unlike many other candidates connected to this job, but he does fit the bill for an energetic and young coach. Additionally, unlike Flores, Nielsen could be a more long-term solution to the position.

The Vikings have not officially interviewed anyone for the position, but this marks multiple requests from separate teams for interviews. Because of that, an interview likely is to come soon. Nielsen is also expected to interview with the Atlanta Falcons for their defensive coordinator position.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.