Vikings offensive line coaching duties to be split with Barone and Janocko

posted by Joe Perovich - 

Photo: Getty Images

The Vikings as a team are in a mourning state from a person-to-person, emotional standpoint.

From a business standpoint, the staff needed to make a decision on who would be the fill-in or permanent offensive line coach, and now they have.

Head Coach Mike Zimmer announced after the walkthrough portion of practice that Tight Ends Coach Clancy Barone and Assistant Offensive Line Coach Andrew Janocko will share the responsibilities of Offensive Line Coach after the unexpected and unfortunate passing of Tony Sparano, while Todd Downing will take over as Tight Ends Coach.

"Clancy coached offensive line when Denver won the Super Bowl," Zimmer said after announcing the decision. "I feel really good about these guys. They're experienced and know what they're doing."

Compared to any other possible outside candidates, Barone and Janocko are up to speed with the pillars and tendencies of the current Vikings offense and offensive-line unit.

Barone or Janocko will help the offense move toward its ability to hit the ground running, helping figure out best who is going to play, due to both already having been around the team—which is nothing against any of other potential outside candidate's ability to teach technique.

"I didn't want to [have to] change the players' footwork, their terminology, things like that," Zimmer said, acknowledging continuity was a factor in the decision. Tight ends coach Clancy Barone, early on in camp, primarily ran the offensive line unit.

His past experience with NFL offensive lines—Denver Broncos Offensive Line Coach during the 2010, 2015, and 2016 seasons—and know-how applied from recently coaching inline tight ends made him one of the easy picks.

The other choice, Assistant Offensive Line Coach Andrew Janocko, has coached in the NFL for six years, been with the Vikings for four, and worked as the organization's assistant offensive line coach for two. There were equally strong indications Janocko was in line for the position, and now the Vikings will go ahead with he and Barone commanding the trench.

Barone's tight-end responsibilities line up with the offensive line's in many ways, because coaching inline tight ends is very much an extension of an offensive line coach in the NFL.

Downing, who'll now step in as the primary tight ends coach, was the quarterbacks coach in Detroit, Buffalo, and Oakland from 2011-2016. He then was promoted to Oakland's offensive coordinator role for 2017 before being fired as a part of Jack Del Rio's staff in early January of this year.

Downing joined the Vikings as a senior offensive assistant this past February.

A heightened emphasis on tight end's route-running ability will mean Downing will have his hands full.

The Vikings offense under new quarterback Kirk Cousins will require tight ends to line up outside more and more than Minnesota offenses of past years, so Barone's role as tight ends coach was going to be important this year anyway, and he can assist Downing while assisting Janocko.

New offensive coordinator John DeFilippo coached recent Philadelphia offenses that spread the ball around frequently to three different tight ends so expect to see all three coaches—so expect the entire trio to be involved in each other's duties in attempt to make both unit's successful.

Both Janocko and Barone share the same vision of the offensive line, and have the familiarity to fill in and be the example of what Sparano was looking for.

Joe Perovich is an on-air announcer and writer at KFAN, and can be reached on Twitter (@JoePerovich) or by email (JoePerovich@iheartmedia.com)

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