In their expected hire of Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, the Minnesota Vikings are hoping for change.
After missing the playoffs again, the Minnesota Vikings needed a change. Enter Kevin O’Connell.
Following the season, Minnesota fired longtime head coach Mike Zimmer and while the hiring can’t become official until after Sunday’s Super Bowl, the team is expected to replace him with O’Connell, the Los Angeles Rams’ offensive coordinator.
O’Connell, 36, has overseen one of the league’s best offenses this year. The Rams’ unit saw receiver Cooper Kupp complete the rare trifecta, leading the NFL in receiving yardage, catches and touchdowns.
On Saturday, Vikings Pro Bowl receiver Justin Jefferson spoke to NFL Network about O’Connell’s arrival, and what it could mean to his side of the ball. Via NFL.com:
“I’ve been watching the Rams offense for a minute now. They get their playmakers the ball. They have some tremendous plays, Cooper Kupp wide open all the time. So, I’m excited for it. This is my first head coach that’s going to be on the offensive side instead of the defensive side, so I’m happy.”
Jefferson has good reason to be excited. Minnesota has struggled to utilize its passing game under Zimmer’s run-heavy approach, costing Jefferson and fellow star receiver Adam Thielen the opportunity to impact the game in the same way Kupp does for Los Angeles.
Under O’Connell, expect Minnesota to have a more modern approach to offense, even as the Vikings are somewhat limited in what they can do while Kirk Cousins plays what is likely his final year in purple and gold.
However, this could be a very exciting year for the Vikings and their fans, even if Cousins caps their ceiling to a degree. The Green Bay Packers might be moving on from Aaron Rodgers, ending the 30-year run of either having Rodgers or Brett Favre under center at Lambeau Field. Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears are in the midst of rebuilds, potentially leaving the NFC North wide open for Minnesota to win.
For O’Connell, the Vikings present him with the chance to prove his coaching chops and perhaps find a home for the next few decades. As for Minnesota, O’Connell represents hope after years of feeling stuck with the duo of general manager Rick Spielman and Zimmer running the show.