Kevin O’Connell Fetches Another Blah HC Ranking

Vikings Are the 8th-Worst Team in Football per 'Football Outsiders'
Kevin O'Connell

Heading into his first season as the Minnesota Vikings head coach, Kevin O’Connell’s team was ‘supposed’ to win about eight or nine games.

That was the win-total forecast last summer, and sportsbooks predict the exact same number for Minnesota again in 2023.

Kevin O’Connell Fetches Another Blah HC Ranking

But then during his maiden voyage, O’Connell transformed the Vikings from an 8-9 team in 2021 to a 13-4 club in 2022, winning the NFC North, quite handily, for the first time since 2017. Minnesota specialized in what they called ‘situational mastery’ to tabulate an 11-0 record in one-score games.

Another Blah
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Well, the ‘problem’ is NFL experts aren’t buying it about O’Connell’s resume or at least don’t believe the man deserves too much immediate credit. Batch after batch of ‘coach power rankings’ this offseason illuminates him as a mediocre or blah coach.

In May, The 33rd Team called the Vikings coach the 15th-best coach in the business. Soon after, Pro Football Network landed on No. 21 for O’Connell in its rankings.

No Love for Kevin
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks before training camp, and CBS Sports dropped its opinion, plopping O’Connell at No. 17, sandwiched between Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins, No. 18) and Frank Reich (Carolina Panthers, No. 16). CBS Sports‘ Cody Benjamin explained the placement, “His friendly aura was instantly a good fit for Minnesota (and a locker room coming off Mike Zimmer’s tenure), and his more contemporary offensive approach wisely allowed Kirk Cousins to keep slinging it, feeding Justin Jefferson and keeping the club more resilient than expected.”

The man ahead of O’Connell, Frank Reich, was fired by the Indianapolis Colts last year after a 3-5-1 (.389) start to the season.

Vikings May Have First
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

“With a transitioning roster, however, it’ll be tough for him to replicate, let alone build off, his debut,” Benjamin warned about the 2023 Vikings.

O’Connell has a real chance to fasten a winning reputation to his resume this season, rest assured. While many consider last season’s success ‘lucky’ or an outlier, seizing the NFC North in back-to-back seasons couldn’t be ignored. He must topple Jared Goff’s Detroit Lions, Jordan Love’s Green Bay Packers, and Justin Fields’ Chicago Bears. It’s in the eye of the beholder to decide if that’s a murderers’ row.

Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell at 2023 mandatory minicamp in Eagan. The Vikings won 13 games in O’Connell’s first season as head coach. He previously won a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams as offensive coordinator in 2021.

Former Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, the Cleveland Browns skipper, checked in at No. 20 on Benjamin’s list. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs, No. 1), Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers, No. 2), and Bill Belichick (New England Patriots, No. 3) led the way.

O’Connell and the Vikings open up training camp on July 23rd.

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 Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by