The Minnesota Vikings will move forward after the sudden death of Tony Sparano this week with co-offensive line coaches as his replacement.
Coach Mike Zimmer announced Saturday — one day after the team attended Sparano’s funeral — that Clancy Barone and Andrew Janocko will be responsible for working with offensive linemen during the 2018 season.
Both coaches have experience with the position group. Barone served as the Vikings’ tight ends coach last season and previously was offensive line coach with the Denver Broncos when they won Super Bowl 50. Janocko was Minnesota’s assistant offensive line coach under Sparano in 2017.
“Clancy coached the Denver Broncos offensive line when they won the Super Bowl,” Zimmer said, according to the team’s official website. “Andrew is a great young coach and he was Tony’s right-hand man, knows everything that Tony did. I feel really good about it. These guys are experienced in the things that they’re doing. I think it was the best way to go.
“For the last two years, we’ve worked really hard on the footwork, techniques and schemes that we were running, so I felt like it was important that we continued to do that regardless of whatever we decided to do. I didn’t want to change the players terminology or footwork or any of that stuff.”
Todd Downing, hired in February as a senior offensive assistant, will replace Barone as tight ends coach. Downing was the Oakland Raiders’ offensive coordinator last year and also worked with quarterbacks there.
“Guys who have been through the war,” Zimmer said, “they’re not afraid to voice their opinion or come in here and they’ll give ideas and they’ll go to work. Todd’s a great young coach. He’s very respectful. He understands where he’s at and what he’s trying to do and trying to help us win.”
The Vikings went through their first full-squad practice on Saturday as the players began to move forward after the popular Sparano’s passing. He was 56.
“They all loved him,” Zimmer said. “But they understand that we have to move forward, we have to go on and really these guys are professionals. They understand that things happen. This isn’t the first time that something has happened to us here, so we’re used to overcoming adversity and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.
“Everything happened so fast that I kind of had to move things around a bit. I knew Clancy had coached the offensive line before. He was coaching the tight ends so it’s a pretty close proximity there.”
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and retired Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians had reached out to Zimmer to promote former Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin as a candidate to replace Sparano.