From: Las Vegas
Minnesota Vikings Name Kevin O'Connell 10th Head Coach In Franchise History
Eagan, Minn. (February 15, 2022) – The Minnesota Vikings have named Kevin O'Connell as the 10th head coach in franchise history. Coming off a Super Bowl LVI victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, O'Connell joins the Vikings after serving as the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams the past two seasons.
"We are ecstatic to add Kevin as our head coach," said Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf. "He is a strong leader, an innovative coach and an excellent communicator. Kevin played the game at all levels, which gives him a unique connection to players, and he is highly respected throughout the league. Vikings fans should be excited for the future of this team under Kevin's direction."
"Kevin is an impressive and respected leader who has been a part of some explosive offensive schemes," said Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf. "He has a tremendous football IQ and is passionate about preparing, developing and communicating with his players. Beyond the Xs and Os, everyone we spoke with throughout this search process spoke highly of Kevin's ability to motivate players, coaches and staff."
"As I spent time with Kevin during the interview process, it became immediately clear he will be a great partner in building this football team for long-term success," said Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. "He understands what is critical to leading a team that wins at the highest level, and he has an ability to simplify the complex, which will help us in problem-solving in all football areas. He is a genuinely positive person who will help create a high-energy internal environment."
O'Connell, who led the Rams to finish ninth in total offense (372.1 yards per game) in 2021, helped his unit rank second in plays of 50-plus yards (10), fourth in yards per play (5.98) and eighth in offensive touchdowns (51) in 2021. Under the guidance of O'Connell, Rams QB Matthew Stafford and WR Cooper Kupp both had a career years in 2021. Stafford set the single-season team record for passing yards (4,886) and tied Kurt Warner from his 1999 MVP season for the most passing touchdowns in a season with 41, while also winning his first playoff game in his 13th season in the NFL. Kupp, who was named The Associated Press NFL Offensive Player of the Year at last week's NFL Honors, had one of the best receiving seasons in NFL history, leading the NFL in receptions (145), receiving yards (1,947) and receiving touchdowns (16), earning AP First Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors.
The 2020 Rams offense featured the 10th-ranked rushing attack, posting 126.1 yards per game on the ground, behind two 600-plus rushing seasons from RB Cam Akers and RB Darrell Henderson. Anchored by T Andrew Whitworth, the oldest offensive lineman in the NFL, the Rams offensive line only allowed 56 sacks in the two years O'Connell was in Los Angeles, which was good for the seventh-fewest among NFL clubs. The offensive line's sack rate, 4.5%, was the fifth-lowest in the NFL over the past two years. In addition to helping QB Jared Goff to his fourth consecutive of at least 3,800 passing yards and 20 touchdowns in 2020, O'Connell prepared QB John Wolford for a win-and-in game against the Cardinals in Week 17, helping him pass for 231 yards and rush for 56 more in his NFL debut, while leading the Rams to a 18-7 victory and a playoff berth.
"I greatly appreciate the Wilf family, Kwesi and the entire Minnesota Vikings organization for providing the opportunity to be their next head coach," said O'Connell. "This is a franchise with a deep history and a tremendous fan base. Having been on the visitors' sideline at U.S. Bank Stadium and experiencing that environment as an opposing coach, I am excited to now have the support of these passionate Vikings fans. I am committed to working tirelessly to bring them a Super Bowl championship."