On Friday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers interviewed Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards for their vacant head coaching position. Edwards is the second candidate to be interviewed by Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht, who is leading the search for the 12th head coach in franchise history.
Licht also met with Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy on Wednesday evening in Kansas City. The Chiefs are in the playoffs but enjoying a first-round bye, which gave Bieniemy an official window to field interviews from interested teams this week. There were no such restrictions on Edwards, as the Vikings finished just out of the NFC’s playoff field. The back-to-back interviews of Bieniemy and Edwards suggest that the team is not limiting its search to candidates whose primary expertise is on either offense or defense.
Edwards has been Minnesota’s defensive coordinator since 2014, a position he also held with the Buffalo Bills from 2010-11 and with the Washington Redskins in 2003. His Vikings have ranked in the top 11 in points allowed in each of his five seasons as coordinator and in the top six three times in that span. Over the past three seasons, the Vikings have had a top-10 defense in both points and yards allowed every year, including the top ranking in both categories in 2017. Those defensive efforts helped Minnesota compile a record of 47-32-1 over a five-year span, with playoff berths in 2015 and 2017.
Over the past five seasons combined, Edwards’ defenses have ranked first in the NFL in passing yards allowed (16,876) and third-down conversion rate allowed (34.3%), third in points allowed (1,545) and total net yards allowed (25,430), fouth in sacks (212), fifth in first downs allowed (1,506), and sixth in opponent passer rating (84.4).
Edwards has spent the last 21 years coaching in the NFL, beginning when he was hired by Chan Gailey to tutor the Dallas Cowboys linebackers in 1998. After four years in Dallas he joined Steve Spurrier and the Washington Redskins in 2002, first as the assistant defensive coordinator and linebackers coach before a promotion to full-time coordinator in 2003. After one year as the linebackers coach in Cleveland he was hired by Nick Saban to run the same position with the Miami Dolphins in 2005. Saban left after the 2006 season but Edwards was retained by first Cam Cameron in 2007 and Tony Sparano in 2008.
Edwards’ next stop in the NFL was in Buffalo, where he rejoined Gailey as the Bills defensive coordinator from 2010-12 before returning to the Dolphins for two more seasons as the linebackers coach under Joe Philbin. The Vikings named him their defensive coordinator in January of 2014 when first-year Head Coach Mike Zimmer was assembling his staff. Zimmer and Edwards had first intersected with the Cowboys in 1998-99.
After finishing his collegiate playing career at Duke, Edwards got into coaching in 1991 as an assistant at Florida. His subsequent stops in the college ranks included Appalachian State (1992-95), Duke (1996) and Georgia (1997).