Vikings fire OC John DeFilippo

Zimmer made decision to fire DeFilippo (1:36)

Courtney Cronin reports that it was head coach Mike Zimmer, instead of GM Rick Spielman, who made the call to fire offensive coordinator John DeFilippo. (1:36)

The Minnesota Vikings have fired first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo following Monday night's 21-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the team announced Tuesday.

Quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski has been promoted to replace DeFilippo on an interim basis and will handle playcalling duties for the remaining three games of the regular season.

The Vikings' offense has sputtered as of late, putting up 17 points combined in back-to-back losses to New England and Seattle. Minnesota has not been able to surpass 300 yards of offense in four of its past five games and sits at 6-6-1, in line for the sixth seed in the NFC playoffs, going into Week 15.

It has been apparent at times this season that DeFilippo and coach Mike Zimmer were not on the same page as it related to the Vikings' offensive strategy. Zimmer has voiced public criticism over the team's perceived offensive imbalance, the volume in the Vikings' playbook and a need to run the ball more.

Asked after Monday's loss what the Vikings needed to do to get their offense back on track after notching two conversions on 10 third-down attempts while also going 0-for-2 on fourth down and coming away scoreless after four attempts inside the Seattle 4-yard line in the fourth quarter, Zimmer struggled to find an answer.

"That's a good question," Zimmer said. "Keep at it. Keep trying to find things that we're good at. We didn't score very many points tonight, didn't score very many points last week. Part of it is being better on third downs; we haven't really done a good job there. Part of it is being better in the red zone; had the ball on the 2-yard line, didn't score. You keep doing things like that, you're not going to score too many points."

DeFilippo was the fourth offensive coordinator to serve under Zimmer since his tenure began in Minnesota in 2014. He is also the second OC to depart a season early under Zimmer. Current Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Norv Turner resigned in early November of his third season with the Vikings in 2016, a year Minnesota started the season 5-0 and slid to an 8-8 finish.

A source told ESPN that Zimmer -- and not general manager Rick Spielman -- had final say on firing DeFilippo. The Vikings arrived back in the Twin Cities around 4 a.m. CT Tuesday, and DeFilippo met with Zimmer later Tuesday morning and was informed that he was fired.


McFarland: There's a disconnect between Zimmer, DeFilippo

Booger McFarland breaks down the tension between Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.

DeFilippo signed a two-year contract with the Vikings when he was hired in February, one week after coaching the Philadelphia Eagles' quarterbacks to a win in Super Bowl LII.

Zimmer said last week that DeFilippo had "about the same" autonomy when it came to designing and calling plays as former OC Pat Shurmur, who went on to become head coach of the New York Giants last offseason. Zimmer's own involvement with the offense is limited, in large part due to the responsibilities he takes on as a defensive playcaller, but he has said throughout the year that he and DeFilippo were in constant communication regarding the offense.

"I'm always involved with them," Zimmer said. "I sit down there and talk to them about a lot of different things during the week."

After ranking sixth in offensive efficiency under Shurmur during the 2017 season, the Vikings tumbled to 24th this season with DeFilippo. A large problem has been the lack of a running game, as the Vikings have averaged just 85.4 yards on the ground per game, ranking 30th in the NFL.

Much of the team's inability to ignite a rushing attack has to do with Minnesota's offensive line, which has not been able to create consistent windows for a running game in 2018.

The Vikings have struggled in protection throughout the year and quarterback Kirk Cousins has been pressured on 28.5 percent of his dropbacks.

On Monday night, Cousins went 20-for-33 passing for 208 yards, a touchdown and a fumble that resulted in a Seahawks score. Cousins routinely missed wide-open receivers downfield and struggled under pressure (on just 25 percent of his dropbacks, per Pro Football Focus) and phantom pressure in the pocket. The Vikings, according to PFF, have surrendered 190 pressures, a league high -- 15 more than any other unit.

Stefanski has been with the Vikings since 2006, when he served as an assistant to head coaches Brad Childress and Leslie Frazier before taking on positions that allowed him to work with quarterbacks, tight ends and running backs. Stefanski coached Minnesota's quarterbacks during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

He was blocked by Minnesota from interviewing with the Giants last offseason to serve as Shurmur's offensive coordinator. Zimmer stated "loyalty" as one of the reasons why he prevented Stefanski from interviewing in New York.

"Should I start on my pet peeve stuff now?" Zimmer said at the NFL combine. "I get criticized for blocking guys and stuff like that, but loyalty, to me, is a big thing, right? So I come in here four years ago and the offense is 29th, 27th, 26th. But I keep them. So the first time our offense is pretty good, then I'm supposed to let all my coaches leave? I don't think that's right.

"If I'm going to be loyal to them and not fire them after they don't have good years, then I don't think they should not be loyal to me."

Stefanski's contract runs out at the end of the 2018 season.