O’Connell wants to take “property” to protect the Vikings


INDIANOPOLIS – While Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell is focusing on creating an offensive book and list to his liking, he doesn’t want to lose a defense that could undergo even more changes to the schedule and staff in 2022.

O’Connell has entrusted defense veterans Mike Pettin (assistant head coach) and Ed Donatello (defense coordinator) to take over former coach Mike Timer. The two have already started digging into the Vikings list and sharing a vision with scouts as to which players and traits are suitable for the 3-4 defense system that they will install this spring.

But when O’Connell eventually faces the team, he wants to be aware of everyone’s roles and not look like a one-sided head coach.

“The best coaches I’ve been with have them all,” O’Connell said. “I want to know [defensive] the calls we will have. I want to know the minor rotations, the fronts, the mechanics of how we will line up.

“You want to know when you’re facing a team as an offensive head coach, these guys on defense and special teams need to know that you’re invested in what they’re doing,” he added, “and know you’re investing in them not just in as a player or on the list, but also in the way it all works, and, in fact, ultimately the ownership that we ask of them should be mine. “

The defense was the backbone of the Zimmer-led regime, which named five consecutive defenses that made it into the top 10 scorers in 2015-2019. At its peak in 2017, the Vikings fielded eight defenders who were past or future professional bowlers. But the defense will change more than its player, now Donatella, with many unfinished free agents and a small salary limit.

Of the nine Vikings defenders who played the most last season, six – linebacker Anthony Barr, cornerback Patrick Peterson, defenseman Sheldon Richardson, security Xavier Woods, cornerback Mackenzie Alexander and linebacker Nick Vigil – have no contract. for 2022. CEO Quesi Adafo-Mensa also hopes to “work with” defense agent Daniel Hunter to keep him in Minnesota, presumably through a revised contract.

The task of Adofo-Mensah is not only to restart the pipeline for the development of young talents, but also to find immediate startups. He wants to build a solid defense, one that would withstand the injuries that have undermined Timer’s toughest groups in the last two seasons.

“They had a lot of elements in that defense,” Adafo-Mensa said, “and they’ve been a great defense for a long time, let me start with that. It’s [Donatell] the defense is excellent because it is designed to make quarterback difficult. We have many players who can do this at all levels of defense, on security, in line defenders and on line defenses.

“It’s about taking the pieces that you have and seeing where they fit. You want to create a juggernaut. You want to put together a better team that has depth that can withstand injuries and be in it in three-, fours “It’s a five-year horizon, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

This will require a financial tap to invest talent under the wage limit, which is currently hampered by the decisions of its predecessor. Rick Spielman pushed limit spending into future years for players like Bar and Richardson last season. They make up more than $ 11 million in this year’s report, even though they don’t have a contract.

For now, the division of the Vikings between coaches is clear, and O’Connell has focused on creating his offensive tutorial and depth chart, while Donatell is doing the same in defense.

Redesigning the defense may require a little more work for Adafo-Mens and Donatello – 65-year-old former Packers, Falcons and Broncos coordinators – given how many new recruits they can look for in the free agency and conscription over the next two months.

“[Donatell] “Absolutely immersed in studying our list right now,” O’Connell said. “Learning that we have how these positions fit with a slight adjustment to the scheme. I think sometimes when you call things from positions 3-4 to 4-3 [front]this may be a bit exaggerated as much [two-linebacker] the nickel defense you really have to play in this league.

“But I know Ed is thrilled that many of our players are coming back, and the idea is to add some pieces that might fit exactly the way we want to play.”

O’Connell wants to take “property” to protect the Vikings

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