Former GM Sends Kevin O’Connell Stock to the Moon

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Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell has an 18-8 (.692) record since arriving in Minneapolis 21 months ago.

The organization appears to have nailed the hire after cutting ties with Mike Zimmer following the 2021 season.

Former GM Sends Kevin O’Connell Stock to the Moon

And with the Vikings radically turning around their season — the club was 1-4 after Week 5 but now owns a 5-4 record — O’Connell’s esteem might be at an all-time high. If the postseason started today, Minnesota would hold a wildcard berth with the NFC’s No. 7 seed and travel to Detroit for a date with the Lions. Not long ago, the Vikings were on deck for a Top 5 draft pick.

Former GM Sends
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With the Vikings sudden turnaround, folks are noticing O’Connell’s role in righting the ship, too. This week, former New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum sang O’Connell’s praises to high heavens via ESPN, “Minnesota has a superstar for the next 20 years.”

That superstar is O’Connell, at age 38, shining for 20 years, per Tannenbaum; it wouldn’t be totally unheard of considering O’Connell’s youth.

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“They’re lucky to have him. He’s only going to get better and better. I think he has a chance to be really special. People will say he’s a McVay guy with a really good scheme,” Tannenbaum continued.

Tannenbaum has been a part of NFL teams’ front offices, so he isn’t some whippersnapper speaking in theoreticals — he insists O’Connell is the real deal. Too, after the young skipper led the Vikings to a 13-4 record in Year One, plus an in-season fix on the fly in Year Two, O’Connell’s trajectory is incredibly promising.

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Tannenbaum concluded, “Kevin has a million more attributes to add to a program than scheme. He has relatability. He is a good listener. He has a really good demeanor.”

O’Connell told reporters after leading the Vikings to an improbable victory last weekend with newcomer and veteran quarterback at the helm, “My job in that moment is to eliminate the chaos.”

That he did — and then some — as his Vikings are now just 1.5 games behind the Lions for first place in the NFC North. Minnesota has also been aided by another tremendous coach in Brian Flores, whose defense has transformed to contribute to the current four-game winning streak directly.

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.

O’Connell also drew local praise this week from the Pioneer Press. Dane Mizutani wrote, “His performance in guiding the Vikings to a seemingly impossible win over the Falcons, however, proved O’Connell is among the best in the NFL at what he does. There was every reason to believe that the Vikings were eventually going to fall apart against the Falcons.”

The Vikings host the New Orleans Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium this Sunday and can extend the winning spurt to five games.

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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