Kevin O’Connell Has Made a Silly Narrative Laughable

Gets Overlooked
Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell on January 18th, 2022, at Minnesota year-end press conference. O'Connell was joined by Kwesi Adofo-Mensah in Eagan, Minnesota.

The Minnesota Vikings are rolling, and they’re doing so despite walking wounded. Having lost several key pieces at this point of the season, Minnesota has plenty of reasons to be counted out. Still, every week, Kevin O’Connell has his team ready to go, and they are in this position because of his leadership.

Kevin O’Connell Has Made a Silly Narrative Laughable

Early on this season, as the Minnesota Vikings found themselves dropping winnable games by small margins, execution and discipline was an issue. While some of that certainly can be placed on the coaching staff due to preparation, professionals failing to lock in mentally or do their jobs physically is beyond suboptimal. As the team was going through it, some chatter showed Kevin O’Connell could be on the hot seat.

Silly Narrative Laughable
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Despite finishing with 13 wins a season ago and dramatically shifting the culture that Mike Zimmer left behind, a short losing streak was enough to deter some folks. There was never a situation where anyone internally believed that O’Connell was feeling the heat, but that didn’t slow it from becoming a talking point.

Now, with a 6-4 record and five-game winning streak, the Vikings head coach should arguably be considered the frontrunner for coach of the year. Not only has O’Connell gotten his team back on track, but he has done it without his starting quarterback and while seeing the team sustain multiple other injuries along the way.

In watching any postgame celebrations from the locker room, it is incredibly clear what sort of leader O’Connell is. He looks to empower those around them and pushes performance through the lens of belief. By developing relationships with the men he needs to get the most out of weekly, his leadership shows in their desire to perform for him.

The Vikings National
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Often, it is wondered what separates good coaches from bad ones, and really, it rarely is through the structure of a gameplan. Data and preparation is something that anyone employed in the capacity can do. How much buy-in you can get and what level of open communication you establish with the talent around you is what often translates to results on gameday.

It has been a very brief foray into the career of O’Connell as a head coach, but he continues to exhibit an exceptional level of communication. In the most recent win, the way he continues to support Josh Dobbs and be understanding of the new transition is something that results in a level of comfort for all around.

magic entering
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

How the Vikings continue to perform the rest of the way will determine the extent that O’Connell is considered as a Coach of the Year candidate. There is plenty of runway for them to get there, though, as they have winnable games for the next few weeks and are also inserting Justin Jefferson back into the lineup.

Should O’Connell continue to set Dobbs up in position to succeed on a weekly basis and the team continues to perform as a whole, the heights they reach this season remain uncapped.

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.