The Vikings made it official this evening naming Brian Murphy as their special teams coordinator. Murphy served as the assistant special teams coach to Paul Ferraro the past three seasons. Ferraro left the Vikings staff to become linebackers coach for the St. Louis Rams last month.
“Brian is an enthusiastic coach with a style that will demand players match his passion for special teams play,” Vikings coach Brad Childress said in a statement. “You see every week in the NFL how important special teams are to the outcome of games. We expect our special teams units to prepare and execute with the same determination as our offensive and defensive units. Brian’s X’s and O’s knowledge of special teams and his personality are going to help elevate our unit’s performance. He will help players get the most out of their ability and embrace their roles on special teams.”
The Vikings gave up an NFL record seven special teams touchdowns this past season, including four on punt returns.
Here is more from the press release the Vikings put out on Murphy, who served as special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach at Wisconsin from 2002-05.
“During his tenure as the Badgers special teams coordinator, Murphy coached some of the top performances in school history, including career record holders Brandon Williams (kickoff return yards) and Jim Leonhard (punt return yards) and coached kicker Taylor Mehlhaff in his opening two seasons as he went on to set the Wisconsin record for scoring by a kicker. During Murphy’s UW career, the Badgers scored seven punt return touchdowns and had six Big Ten special teams player of the week honors. Several of Murphy’s players at UW went on to the NFL as special teams stalwarts, including Leonhard, Baltimore Ravens snapper Matt Katula and Mehlhaff was the only kicker drafted in 2008.
“Murphy enters his 18th season of coaching in 2009 and his fourth with the Vikings. During his past three seasons with the Vikings he has helped prepare players for expanded roles and added depth to coverage units that had to overcome losses due to injuries to key performers like Heath Farwell in 2008. In 2008, the Vikings notched the first-ever blocked field goal return for a touchdown in team history when Antoine Winfield scored off a block at New Orleans on Monday Night Football. Bernard Berrian returned the third-longest punt for a TD in team history against eventual NFC Champion Arizona with an 82-yard score. The Vikings specialists set team records when Ryan Longwell connected for the most 50-yard field goals in a season (six) and game-winning field goals (three) and Chris Kluwe set team highs for punting average in a season (47.6 yards per punt) and most 50-yard punts in a season (35).”
That is the end of the press release.
Although it’s not mentioned in the release, it is interesting to note that the Vikings signed Mehlhaff to a futures contract near the end of the season and will take him to training camp.