History Not on Vikings Side to Reach Playoffs in 2022

History Not on Vikings Side to Reach Playoffs in 2022
Kevin O'Connell

If new Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell leads the franchise to the postseason in 2022, he’ll become just the second coach in team history to do it.

The organization came into existence in 1961, and to date, Dennis Green is the only purple skipper to plop the squad in the playoffs in Year One. That was 1992, and Minnesota went 11-5 before a postseason blunder against the Washington Commanders in Round 1.

Dennis Green

Aside from Green, Norm Van Brocklin (1961), Bud Grant (1967), Les Steckel (1984), Jerry Burns (1986), Mike Tice (2002), Brad Childress (2006), Leslie Frazier (2010), and Mike Zimmer (2014) could not accomplish the feat in their maiden voyages. In fact, Burns, in 1986, was the only other non-Green Vikings coach to foster a winning record in his first season. Minnesota finished 9-7 in 1986 but missed the postseason.

The Vikings are banking on Kevin O’Connell bucking history, though. When Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer were terminated in January, the franchise had all the reasons imaginable to start over and rebuild. The enterprise was undergoing a new storefront. Yet, it ultimately chose to keep the same group of star players intact. Kirk Cousins was extended — that was the first big domino — and veteran players restructured contracts.

To show they were ultra-serious about playoff contendership, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah signed EDGE rusher Za’Darius Smith from the rival Green Bay Packers to a three-year deal for $42 million. Now, in the defensive trenches, Minnesota employs Danielle Hunter and the new arrival, Smith, which is a formidable tandem.

Vegas forecasts the Vikings as a nine-win team, at least per pre-draft odds. Therefore, entering his first campaign as head coach, O’Connell is right on the cusp of pushing the team to meaningful January football, per sportsbooks.

Gotta Hear It: Vikings Quote of the Day -- February 24, 2022
Kevin O’Connell

O’Connell’s got the resume for it. In 2021, as the Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator, O’Connell and his boss Sean McVay led Matthew Stafford and the boys to a Super Bowl championship, the franchise’s first since 1999.

The Vikings are hoping O’Connell can duplicate that prosperity, as the Vikings are the league’s fifth-best franchise per win percentage in the Super Bowl era — but have no Lombardi trophies to show for it.

The NFL regular-season schedule will release on May 12th.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).