On January 10, the Minnesota Vikings fired head coach Mike Zimmer after eight seasons.
Three weeks and many interviews later, they have found their next head coach.
Minnesota announced on Wednesday that they would be finalizing a deal with Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell after the Rams play in Super Bowl LVI.
— PFF (@PFF) February 3, 2022
The Vikings had also interviewed, among others, University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, New York Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, and Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris.
Graham and Morris were finalists.
With their next head coach in place, here are three reasons Vikings fans should be excited about O’Connell.
3. O’Connell Already Knows His General Manager
O’Connell and new Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah worked together with the San Francisco 49ers in 2016.
𝗔 𝗻𝗲𝘄 𝗲𝗿𝗮 𝗯𝗲𝗴𝗶𝗻𝘀!
Welcome Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as our General Manager. pic.twitter.com/QUeFaGVzzX
— Minnesota Vikings UK (@UKVikings) January 27, 2022
At the time, Adofo-Mensah was the Niners’ manager of football research & development.
O’Connell was hired to serve on the staff of Chip Kelly in 2016 before moving on to Washington the following year.
The trend in the NFL for several years now is for teams to hire general managers and head coaches that are familiar with each other.
In some cases, the first order of business for a new GM is finding a compatible coach to work with.
The fact that Adofo-Mensah vouched for O’Connell goes a long way in his trust that his new coach will perform his duties well.
Both men should have a good working relationship with a shared vision that will benefit the Vikings going forward.
2. Youth Movement
It was lost on no one that O’Connell isn’t the typical NFL head coach.
He is not a grizzled veteran with decades of experience who is set in his ways.
O’Connell is only 36 and his new GM is 41.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) February 3, 2022
Assuming that they have a shared understanding of what makes a competitive football team, these two will be joined at the hip for years to come.
There is also plenty of precedent for young coaches doing well in the NFL.
For example, John Madden was only 32 when he became the Raiders head coach in 1969.
He eventually led Oakland to a Super Bowl win.
Mike Tomlin became Pittsburgh’s head coach at 35 and took them to a Super Bowl victory in his second year.
O’Connell was the offensive coordinator for Sean McVay, who became the Rams head coach at 30.
McVay will be coaching in his second Super Bowl in four years.
Of course, to be fair, there have been plenty of young head coaches who failed miserably.
However, O’Connell has a chance to prove his experience in football will deliver good things for the Vikings.
1. O’Connell Knows Offense And The Quarterback Position
O’Connell was the quarterback for La Costa Canyon High School in California.
He was the team’s MVP and received several postseason awards.
O’Connell then matriculated to San Diego State University where he was a four-year captain.
While playing for the Aztecs, O’Connell set program records for career rushing yards and was second in career rushing touchdowns among quarterbacks.
As a passer, he ranked tenth all-time in yardage, eighth in attempts, and seventh in completions.
O’Connell was then drafted by the New England Patriots in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft.
Pictured from left to right:
— Jordan Dajani (@JordanDajani) February 3, 2022
He was cut by the team the following year and spent the next four seasons bouncing around various organizations.
In 2015, O’Connell was hired by the Cleveland Browns as their quarterbacks coach.
After spending 2016 with the 49ers, he was hired by Washington to be their quarterbacks coach and then offensive coordinator.
During the 2017 season, O’Connell worked with current Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.
In 2020, McVay hired O’Connell to be his offensive coordinator.
That same year, the team ranked 22nd in the league in total offense.
This year, they have improved to seventh in the NFL.
There have been rumors that Adofo-Mensah may shop Cousins this offseason.
However, with O’Connell now on board, that may not happen.
Regardless of who the Minnesota quarterback will be in 2022, the team will have an experienced tutor as their head coach.