By Juan C. Lozano | June 12, 2018
This week’s HCR Coaching Spotlight coaching features Drew Petzing, newly named Quarterbacks Assistant for the Minnesota Vikings. Petzing, entering his fifth season with the Vikings staff, began his tenure in Minnesota as a coaching assistant in 2014. He worked with running backs and receivers the following two years before being appointed assistant wide receivers coach in 2017. He was promoted to his current role in January.
After Week 15 of the 2017 season, while highlighting the exceptional coaching performance by Mike Zimmer, we mentioned Petzing and other young coaches on the Vikings who were making major under-the-radar contributions to the team’s success.
Petzing may be anonymous to even most Vikings fans, but his impact has been noticed by football people. His work with the receivers (2015- 2017) and before that running backs (2014) stands out.
While some players call him “Uncle Drew,” Petzing’s nickname should be D.P. Not just because those are his initials, but because it’s also short for “Developing Players” — something Petzing excels at.
There has been turnover at wide receivers coach (George Stewart in 2015-2016, current coach Darrell Hazell joined the staff in 2017), the one constant has been Petzing as assistant wide receivers coach.
During his time working with wide receivers, former first-round pick Cordarrelle Patterson enjoyed a career resurgence after a drop-off from his rookie season. Fifth-round pick Stefon Diggs made an instant impact and undrafted free agent Adam Thielen emerged from the practice squad and later special teams obscurity to become one of the NFL’s most dependable wide receivers.
Before his work with the wide receiver group, Petzing was an assistant running backs coach and helped veteran running backs coach Kirby Wilson with a running back room that had Adrian Peterson towards the end of his career and a young Jerick McKinnon,who ran for 538 yards in his rookie season.
It is not a coincidence that the young, raw players on the Vikings have developed into not only contributors but elite performers. Good coaches get players ready for games and Petzing does that.
Petzing is in his 10th year working in football. In 2013, he worked in football operations for the Cleveland Browns — where he worked with Norv and Scott Turner, who later helped bring him to Minnesota.
Petzing’s coaching career began at Middlebury College after an injury ended his playing career. He later worked at both Harvard and Yale, making him one of three offensive assistant coaches with the Vikings with Ivy League experience (new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo was the QB coach at Columbia in 2003-04 and QB coach Kevin Stefanski both played and coached at Penn).
After reaching the NFC Championship Game last season, the Vikings are facing a key transition in 2018. They have a new starting quarterback in Kirk Cousins and DeFilippo became offensive coordinator after Pat Shurmur accepted the head coaching position for the New York Giants. DeFilippo is the team’s third OC n the last three years (Norv Turner in 2016, followed by Shurmur). Minnesota’s offensive success in 2017 stood out to us because of the coaching turnover from the year before, as they had coaching changes at numerous offensive positions.
In the NFL, teams always sign talented players and coaches away from successful teams. Shurmur is now in New York. McKinnon is now running the ball for the 49ers.
This makes the Vikings even more dependent on good coaches such as Petzing to get the offensive side of the ball performing the way it did a year ago.
We expect Petzing, a.k.a. D.P., to be a highly sought-after coach in the future. His coaching pedigree, the Vikings’ offensive success and his development of young players are attributes that NFL and college head coaches will seek out to improve their staffs and the performance of their young players.