Kevin O’Connell Gets a ‘Coach Power Ranking’

How Vikings Can Avoid Indy Hangover
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The basics of Kevin O’Connell’s first season as the Minnesota Vikings head coach were about what one would expect from an ‘offensive-minded’ boss — throw the ball, don’t run it very much, employ a crummy defense, and instill optimism for the future.

Kevin O’Connell Gets a ‘Coach Power Ranking’

What folks didn’t foresee was the spiffy win-loss record to accompany those facets — 13-4 and an NFC North crown.

Indeed, the Vikings won the division for the first time since 2017, fired up an 11-0 record in one-score games (an NFL record), and reached the playoffs after a two-year drought.

Coach Power
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And all of that afforded O’Connell some respect — rightfully so — as The 33rd Team unveiled NFL coach power rankings this week, and Minnesota’s skipper lived at No. 15. That’s right, the now second-year head coach careened himself up the league’s pecking order, sandwiched between Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins, No. 14) and Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions, No. 16), according to The 33rd Team’s Ross Tucker.

Tucked defended the placement, “Again only a one-year sample, but O’Connell went 13-4 and seemingly won every single close game the entire season, so he must be doing something right with his late-game coaching decisions.”

Of course, ranking 15th isn’t elite, nor are bragging rights in order. However, after just one year on the job, anywhere in the league’s top half is commendable.

Vikings Can Deal With
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Down the stretch of his predecessor’s tenure, Vikings dealings tumbled into mediocrity and reportedly tense relationships. Mike Zimmer was well-known for his old-school and Parcellsian approach to Sundays, and when O’Connell took the scepter 15 months ago, he seemed like the anti-Zimmer. And that theory very much came true, as the young skipper instilled positivity, youth, and openmindedness, at least outwardly to the public and according to players’ accounts.

O’Connell and his boss, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, also promised to become ‘situational masters’ last summer because several Vikings games in 2020 and 2021 were coughed away by lousy defense late in 2nd and 4th Quarters. At the time of the situational masters talk, it sounded like warm-fuzzy coach-speak. But when the 2022 season hit the halfway point or so, the team indeed had effectuated the motto.

The Vikings Players Are in
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Now, O’Connell’s Vikings hope to maintain or build on the progress from 2022. It won’t be easy tabulating a 13-4 record again — Minnesota plays a murderer’s row of 2023 opponents, including the Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, and Cincinnati Bengals, among others — but the club could still finish 11-6 or so and feel like a better team.

Should the Vikings do just that, O’Connell should climb The 33rd Team ranking even higher at this time next year.

Andy Reid of the Chiefs topped Tucker’s rankings while Jonathan Gannon, a newcomer for the Arizona Cardinals, was placed at No. 32.

O’Connell turned 38 on Thursday.

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).

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