Vikings Snubbed Twice during Awards Season

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On Thursday night, the NFL held its yearly awards ceremony. Individuals were recognized for their performance or impact this season, and a new Hall of Fame class was ushered in. Unfortunately for the Minnesota Vikings, Justin Jefferson was the only one that got his due.

Both head coach Kevin O’Connell and pass rusher Jared Allen were left out in the cold.

Coming into the season, Kevin O’Connell was the odds-on favorite to win the NFL Head Coach of the Year. He was taking over a Minnesota Vikings team that finished below .500 and did everything they could to underachieve with Mike Zimmer. He was bringing in a new leadership style, and his aptitude shined brightest on the offensive side of the ball.

Vikings Snubbed Twice during Awards Season

When the coaching carousel began following the regular season last year, the Vikings job should have been seen as desirable due to the vast amount of skill position players on the roster. Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Kirk Cousins are a pretty decent group to build around. That gave O’Connell plenty to work with, and a 13-win season resulted.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to matter nationally. The Philadelphia Eagles have largely been the best team all year, and the New York Giants found themselves completing a similar turnaround. The 49ers worked through a quarterback gauntlet, and the Jacksonville Jaguars separated themselves from Urban Meyer’s latest mess. All of those individual head coaches were seen as more integral to their team’s performance than O’Connell.

Vikings Snubbed Twice
Kevin O’Connell

Minnesota did win ugly this season, but their offense and the impact of O’Connell continually helped to overcome a terrible defense. O’Connell showed a presence as a steadfast leader, and it would have been nice to see him rewarded for that. Individual award aside, O’Connell has to feel good about the tone he set in year one.

On the flip side, Jared Allen’s career is over, and he continues to go unrecognized for it. Again a finalist for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Allen’s candidacy was overlooked again.

The four-time All-Pro racked up 136 sacks in his career, and 85.5 came in his six seasons with Minnesota. Recently inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor, it would have been fitting to see him enter Canton during the same year. For a period of time, Allen was among the best pass rushers in the NFL and led the league in sacks twice.

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Kevin O’Connell

Allen’s 136 career sacks are good enough for 12th all-time and trail former Vikings legend John Randle by just 1.5 sacks. While he didn’t come close to NFL record holder Bruce Smith’s 200 career sacks, Allen’s number may not be touched for quite some time. Seeing such a productive player continue to be passed by is a disappointing look from the voting committee.

Coaching Struggles and Takeaways from Loss at GB
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With the dust settling for Minnesota on the 2022 season, it was a great year that ended too soon. Unfortunately, only one individual was rewarded for his performance, but a new hunger next year could help to propel the organization forward.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.