The Minnesota Vikings missed the playoffs each of the last two seasons, and to turn their fortunes, Kevin O’Connell steps in.
It was time for change with the Minnesota Vikings. Enter Kevin O’Connell.
O’Connell, 36, was formally introduced on Wednesday as the team’s new head coach, taking over for the fired Mike Zimmer. Zimmer, who couldn’t guide Minnesota to the postseason in each of the previous two campaigns, was let go with the notion of finding a new spirit offensively.
O’Connell, who served as the offensive coordinator on the Super Bowl-champion Los Angeles Rams, should bring such an adjustment. Under head coach Sean McVay, McConnell helped craft an innovative offense which saw receiver Cooper Kupp with both the NFL’s receiving triple crown before taking home the Super Bowl MVP.
On Wednesday, new Vikings general manager Kewsi Adofo-Mensah released a statement on his thoughts towards O’Connell’s hiring. Per ESPN:
“As I spent time with Kevin during the interview process, it became immediately clear he will be a great partner in building this football team for long-term success. He understands what is critical to leading a team that wins at the highest level, and he has an ability to simplify the complex, which will help us in problem-solving in all football areas. He is a genuinely positive person who will help create a high-energy internal environment.”
A Tennessee native, O’Connell sent parts of five seasons as a backup quarterback in the NFL, playing for the New England Patriots, Detroit Lions, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers. Upon retirement as an active player, O’Connell worked as an offensive assistant with the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and Washington from 2015-18. In 2019, he ascended to offensive coordinator for the Football Team before leaving to take the same role with the Rams over the past two seasons.
In Minnesota, O’Connell should have plenty to work with. While quarterback Kirk Cousins is limited, he’s also a solid quarterback with a trio of excellent weapons around him in running back Dalvin Cook and receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen.
If the Vikings can figure out how to best utilize their talent — a stark issue in recent years under the defensive-minded Zimmer — O’Connell should be well-positioned to have immediate success in the fairly weak NFC North.