Vikings Lose Assistant Coach to Bengals

Dec 31, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; A general view of a Cincinnati Bengals helmet against the Kansas City Chiefs during the game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings’ coaching staff is intact no more.

After defensive coordinator Brian Flores and wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell did not receive promotions elsewhere, it seemed like the Vikings had a chance at maintaining consistency in their coaching staff.

That dream no longer exists after assistant offensive line coach Justin Rascati was hired by the Cincinnati Bengals to take over the role of passing game coordinator.

Vikings Lose Assistant Coach to Bengals

Nov 27, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; A Minnesota Vikings helmet sits idle on the field before the game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals announced three coaching moves via their team website on Thursday, writing, “The Bengals today announced the hiring of Justin Rascati as pass game coordinator. In addition, the team promoted Brad Kragthorpe to quarterbacks coach and Jordan Kovacs to secondary/safeties coach.”

Rascati has spent the past two seasons with the Vikings after being hired to Kevin O’Connell’s staff when he took over the head coaching job following the firing of Mike Zimmer. During those seasons, he has worked closely with the young Vikings o-line, including 2022 second-round pick Ed Ingram.

After a very shaky rookie season in 2022, particularly in pass protection, Ingram has turned into a respectable starting guard in the league. His PFF pass blocking grade jumped from 42.6 to 60.9 in 2023 while he allowed just five sacks compared to 11 during his rookie season.

Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings guard Ed Ingram (67) defends against Las Vegas Raiders defensive tackle Vernon Butler (94) in the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

2021 first-round pick and left tackle, Christian Darrisaw, also took massive strides in his play with Rascati coaching the offensive line. He went from a solid left tackle during his rookie season to becoming one of the best in the entire NFL during the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

Darrisaw was one of just three tackles during the 2022 season to receive scores of 80.0+ in both run blocking and pass protection from PFF, joined by Andrew Thomas of the New York Giants and Trent Williams of the San Francisco 49ers.

Prior to his stint with the Vikings, Rascati actually had a very solid collegiate career as a quarterback, hence his promotion to coordinator of the passing game for Cincinnati. After one season with the Louisville Cardinals in 2003, he transferred to James Madison University.

Rascati played for three seasons and totaled 5912 passing yards, 51 passing TDs, and just 16 interceptions. He also added over 1000 rushing yards and 20 rushing TDs for the Dukes. The QB led JMU to their first FCS national title during his first season in 2004, completing 13 of his 18 passes for 132 yards through the air while adding 57 rushing yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns in the title game against Montana.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick (7) against Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw (71) at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Rascati has also held coaching roles at various collegiate programs over the years, such as Weber State, Tennessee-Martin, Tennessee Tech, and Tennessee-Chattanooga. His first NFL coaching job came back in 2019 with the Denver Broncos. He served as an offensive quality control coach for three seasons before joining the Vikings.

Now, Rascati gets a chance to work with the 2020 first overall pick, Joe Burrow, and a high octane Bengals passing offense, which includes star receivers like Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. Partly because of Burrow’s injury during the 2023 season, they did not qualify for the playoffs this past year, finishing the year 9-8.

Cincinnati will hope for a much better result in 2024 as they compete in a very difficult AFC North division.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via ESPN.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.