Kwesi and O’Connell Out to Prove a Point

The Search for Next Vikings DC
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O'Connell

On Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings announced a one-year extension for Kirk Cousins with a full no-trade clause. He will be under center with the purple for two more seasons. After being tied to the quarterback trade market, it seems the new regime may be out to prove a point.

Before the hiring of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell, it was argued without disagreement that the Vikings had the most desirable openings. A roster ripe with offensive talent, a high draft pick, and a team with recent success was looking for someone to steer it. How the next phase would go was always reliant upon the decision at quarterback. Would Cousins be sent packing in a salary dump, was a new veteran going to be acquired, or would it be a year in transition?

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O'Connell
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell: Picture Via: Star Tribune.

We now have a direction for the immediate future.

While the Vikings have done nothing else of substance to this point, going with Cousins for each of the next two seasons is plenty telling. Justin Jefferson is among the most talented wide receivers in the league. Dalvin Cook remains a threat in the backfield. A supporting cast with names like Adam Thielen, Alexander Mattison, and K.J. Osborn should all be expected to produce. For the new regime, it’s not as simple as running it back, however.

The warts are well stated. Cousins needs upgrades on the line in front of him, and the defense has issues on the edges while losing players up the middle. Dabbling in free agency will be necessary while hitting on picks in the draft is an absolute must. The General Manager and Head Coach seem intelligent, so they both have to know that.

What they also seem to believe is that a more well-constructed offense and a different approach may lead to greater results. Everything about Adofo-Mensah’s background has turned towards analytics. He’s looking to craft a winner while creating statistical advantages for his club. Although that approach is not exactly commonplace in his role, it’s one that Minnesota’s brass was sold on. The hire was praised by many at the time, and he’s now tied his name to a process that involves a lightning rod under center.

O’Connell joins the Vikings after leading one of the NFL’s best offenses. Los Angeles won with a prolific passing attack and used the run to change game flow. O’Connell also has a history with Cousins and is a former quarterback himself. At the most basic level, there should be the assumption that the new head coach will not seek to disparage Cousins as the former one did. A more symbiotic relationship there alone could produce heightened results.

It’s not so much that Cousins is going to be anything but who he has a proven track record of being. A different level of leadership and a renewed opportunity to shape the roster should be exciting though. Rather than having the calling card of a defensive head coach looking over a lousy defense, the Vikings can now turn the page to a progressive thinker at the top with an offensive-minded collaborator on the sidelines.

There’s no reason to expect production from Cousins to trump what it was a season ago, given the statistics that would be tough to replicate. Different direction bringing in a more well-rounded supporting cast, empowering a change of approach, and utilizing what was left to them, it’s not as straightforward as status quo because Cousins was retained.

We still need to see what moves are made across the 53-man roster, and there’s no denying the task of adding is more complex with an exorbitant cap hit at one position, but we aren’t guaranteed to be in for the same result.