EAGAN, Minn. (FOX 9) - Interim offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski is staying on with the Minnesota Vikings as their new offensive coordinator, the team announced Wednesday.
Stefanski was previously the Vikings’ quarterbacks coach, but was promoted to interim offensive coordinator after the team fired John DeFilippo after the loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 14.
Stefanski has been with the Vikings for 13 seasons, making him the longest-tenured coach on the staff. In that time, he has coached quarterbacks, tight ends and running backs.
The Cleveland Browns were looking at Stefanski to fill their head coaching, but ESPN reported the job went to Freddie Kitchens.
Stefanski helped lead the Vikings to a 2-1 record in his three games as the interim offensive coordinator.
The Vikings ran for 220 yards in his debut in a 41-17 win over the Dolphins. The next week at Detroit, they ran for 100 yards and Kirk Cousins passed for 253 yards and three touchdowns, two to Kyle Rudolph, in a 27-9 victory.
But with the season on the line, the Vikings ran for just 53 yards in the regular season finale, a 24-10 loss to the Bears.
“I think Kevin is a really good football coach. Very smart guy. I thought he did a good job for the three weeks that we were in a tough situation that we had to do,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said in his season-ending news conference.
This season was the first for Kirk Cousins to work with Stefanski. Cousins had one of the best statistical seasons of his career with his highest completion percentage (70.1) ever. He also set season-bests with 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, the least since becoming a full-time starter in 2015.
“I was thrilled to hear that he’d be back. We feel like the continuity is very important, not only for me at the quarterback position but for the entire offense, for the young players learning the system and for our coaching staff to have the familiarity as well,” Cousins said.
Dalvin Cook missed five straight games this season with a nagging hamstring injury, but started the last three with Stefanski running the offense. He had 19 carries for 136 yards and two touchdowns against the Dolphins. He added 16 carries for 73 yards against a tougher Lions defense.
The Vikings got back to running the football under Stefanski, and put players in position to make plays.
“I just like how he let us play free… that’s Coach. Coach likes to have fun. He lets his play-makers do all the talking for him,” Cook said. “He’s not a big rah-rah guy, he just wants us to have fun and play at a high level, and he knows we can.”