Kevin O’Connell’s “Head Coach Ranking” Is Pretty Sweet

Vikings Successfully
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Kevin O’Connell has climbed five spots in the court of public opinion, at least according to CBS Sports.

Kevin O’Connell’s “Head Coach Ranking” Is Pretty Sweet

Last year, CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin ranked the league’s head coaches, and O’Connell checked in at No. 17. This year, he published a similar set of rankings, with the Vikings’ boss fetching No. 12.

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Andy Reid has led the way both seasons — that’s how it goes when a team wins consecutive Super Bowls — and New Orleans Saints skipper Dennis Allen found his way to last place.

Benjamin wrote about O’Connell, “Few coaches have proven to be cooler characters in their first two years on the job; after infusing optimistic belief in a surprising 13-4 debut that saw Minnesota escape one tight game after another, O’Connell was equally as trustworthy in 2023, when a rash of quarterback injuries didn’t derail the franchise’s morale.”

Head Coach Ranking
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Minnesota finished 7-10 last year after Kirk Cousins fell injured in late October, causing a quarterback carousel with Jaren Hall, Joshua Dobbs, and Nick Mullens. Still, the Vikings remained afloat the entire season and flirted with a playoff berth all the way through December. Ultimately, the club finished in third place inside the NFC North, as the defense floundered down the stretch, and the aforementioned Mullens turned the football over too frequently.

“His pass-oriented offense is perfect for their young, talented lineup,” Benjamin added.

Theory on Harrison
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Vikings fans will hope 2024 is a different story, although Cousins vamoosed to the Atlanta Falcons in March. Veteran passer Sam Darnold replaced Cousins while general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah drafted Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy for the long-term QB1 plan.

In addition to Darnold and McCarthy, O’Connell can improve his head coach ranking with the addition of new, talented players, including Dallas Turner, Jonathan Greenard, Blake Cashman, Aaron Jones, Shaquill Griffin, Andrew Van Ginkel, and Jerry Tillery. The Vikings wrapped up their “competitive rebuild” this offseason and are now waiting on a verdict from the younger guys to determine if the rebuild was conducted properly.

Brain Trust Needs
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Since taking over the Vikings in 2022, O’Connell has a 20-14 (.588) record, the NFL’s ninth-best mark during the timeframe. In the CBS Sports rankings, O’Connell was sandwiched between DeMeco Ryans (No. 13, Houston Texans) and Mike McDaniel (No. 11, Miami Dolphins).

After Reid at the top, Sean McVay, O’Connell’s mentor from the Los Angeles Rams, earned the No. 2 spot, with San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan at No. 3

The Vikings’ regular season begins in 59 days.

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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