The Vikings begin a new era when O’Connell takes the helm of the team


Kevin O’Connell told the story at his inaugural press conference at a time when everything between him and new Vikings general manager Kwesi Adafo-Mensa snapped. He has supported players, from Kirk Cousins ​​to Dalwin Cook and Harrison Smith, whose future in Minnesota may seem uncertain.

He echoed familiar topics about culture, saying that one of his main goals was to “make players feel as connected as ever with the coaching staff.”

Throughout Thursday, the 36-year-old new Viking head coach seemed to be building a thesis: the current squad has enough talent to win right now. All they need is to manage properly.

No matter how much the Vikings talked about the changes after the dismissal of coach Mike Timer and general manager Rick Spielman on January 10, the first public appearance of their new regime seemed to be more about looking at players with fresh eyes than the beginning of suras. ionization adjustment.

O’Connell publicly voiced what sources described as a commitment to Casino, saying he “predicts Kirk will be part of what we do” in the last year of the quarterback’s contract, adding, “I’m excited to coach him.” We have already started thinking about how we are going to build these systems for him and our other defenders. “

He called Smith “the perfect player for the defensive structure we want to play”, praised Eric Kendrix (who has a 2022 contract), and Anthony Barr (who doesn’t), and said: “We have a very, very good run here ”in Cook, speaking of a balanced crime in a manner his predecessor might have loved.

Undoubtedly, O’Connell’s first team the Vikings will have some differences from the 2021 club, which for the second season in a row ended the game out of the playoffs. The coach noted that he plans to put the Vikings in defense of base 3-4 for the first time since the 1980s, although his goal is to switch between fronts of three and four people on the same drive and the reality of how much time teams spend in nickel packages (81%, O’Connell said Thursday) can make the shift different without much difference.

He said he plans to name his own offensive games, meaning O’Connell will be the first Viking head coach after Brad Childress to do so, noting that the Vikings will mix the faster offensive concepts he used under Sean McVeigh. . in Los Angeles.

At his opening press conference, O’Connell did not call himself a “corrector”, and after inheriting a team that won 57% of games in eight years under Zimmer, the new coach may not have needed to do so. His message that the Vikings are close to controversy is also a more encouraging topic for the opening of the press conference than its alternative, and although steps to clean up the caps are a necessity in the last month before the free agency, it probably isn’t O’Connell’s approach is to lean his hand and lower the players ’trading value.

But on Thursday, at least, he seemed to be in favor of detailed adjustments to significant changes, saying he didn’t think the team was far from fighting.

“It’s one of the things you look for when you get those opportunities, that’s where the current team is, and obviously what type of plan we can put in place to achieve the goals we want to achieve,” O’Connell said. .

“I think there are a lot of reasons on both sides of the ball that make me really admire the systems and processes we’re going to implement … I think this team already has great leadership, but I have to be invested I hope that take this case, get this team under the leadership of the players, let these guys manage the rest of this locker room, and then I see that we are really developing this case together every day. ”

He said that in the second hour of O’Connell’s personal interview with the Vikings on Jan. 31 in Los Angeles, he truly agreed with Adafo-Mensa as they converged on their vision of the team.

“It was as if I was talking to one of my close football friends, with whom I spent hours and hours,” Adafo-Mensa said. “It was so natural. Everyone else who was in that interview said it right after that connection, the energy was incredible, and thinking about it, I think at that point I probably knew myself. ”

That night, the Vikings interviewed Rams defense coordinator Rahim Morris and returned home for personal interviews with Giants defense coordinator Patrick Graham and Michigan coach Jim Harbo before making O’Connell his choice on February 2. when Harbo left the building.

“My brother [principal owner Zygi Wilf]i, we had great experiences talking to [Harbaugh] and great respect for him, “said Vikings co-owner Mark Wilf.” We just abandoned the wide web. After all, we wanted to have a coach who was the best fit, would give us a better chance of winning, and we are very happy with Kevin as head coach. ”

Next month will show more about how confident the Vikings really are in their current core, as they are working to clear at least $ 16 million of the limit space by the start of the league year on March 16th.

They also have to finalize their coaching staff, as they reportedly plan to interview Rams backing coach Thomas Brown on Friday about their work as an offensive coordinator. The Vikings are left without a special team coordinator, a linebacker coach and a defense coach, and will have to make decisions about strength training and medical departments in the near future.

Since O’Connell spent his first day in Minnesota on Thursday after the Rams Super Cup parade on Wednesday, he predicted confidence he would be able to win by marrying for most of what he worked for in Los Angeles, with what the Vikings already have.

“Ultimately, it was about finding the right organization,” he said. “I think you win with your people: players, coaches, owners, staff. The leadership structure has everything here to make me feel great not only in my readiness but also in my ability to implement the culture and plan I want to make. ».

The Vikings begin a new era when O’Connell takes the helm of the team

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