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O’Connell takes the reins as new Vikings head coach


Six weeks after the Vikings fired general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer, the team’s new executives sat on a dais in Eagan as a logo on streaming video of the conference press declared “the new era of the Vikings”.

The Vikings’ first general manager, 40, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, introduced his 36-year-old first head coach, Kevin O’Connell, on Thursday, four days after O’Connell won the Super Bowl with the Rams . ‘ offensive coordinator.

O’Connell and Adofo-Mensah are now starting to work together as the Vikings make an organizational pivot. After firing Spielman and Zimmer on Jan. 10, co-owner Mark Wilf said the team is looking for “strong leaders, strong communicators and strong collaborators” in its coaching and general manager searches.

Those words were used frequently in the nearly 40 minutes O’Connell and Adofo-Mensah spent with reporters at the TCO Performance Center.

“Kevin is a strong leader with great vision, great communication skills and an innovative football spirit,” Adofo-Mensah said. “As a former player himself, he is able to connect with players and has an excellent reputation for developing them. He is incredibly brilliant with a calm demeanor in the face of adversity. He is well regarded throughout the league for his authentic personality almost as much as his keen football sense. He is committed to building a league culture through positivity and goal. One of Kevin’s best attributes is his ability to communicate the complexity of a simple and relevant way.

Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell, the 10th head coach in team history, were quick to notice the bond that had formed between them during O’Connell’s second interview in Los Angeles. Angeles on January 31.

“We’ve known from day one that we’re going to be able to collaborate, communicate with each other and create a culture here that the players will feel,” O’Connell said. “They will feel a connection between obviously your staff and our coaching staff, and that will only make the players feel as connected as they ever have with a coaching staff before. is one of my main goals and I can’t wait to get going with our football team.”

O’Connell said he will call offensive plays, which he hasn’t done with the Rams, and the defense, under new coordinator Ed Donatell, will lead a three-man front but switch to different fronts .

Among the first questions O’Connell, a former quarterback, was asked about was the status of quarterback Kirk Cousins.

“I know he’s under contract and I’m excited to coach him,” O’Connell said, adding, “I expect Kirk to be part of what we do.”

O’Connell, who was known to be the Vikings’ pick as head coach on Feb. 2, called the two weeks he juggled head coaching interviews and preparing for the Super Bowl the toughest of his life. . But it ended with a championship and his first head coaching job.

“I know what it takes,” O’Connell said of his Super Bowl win. “I saw it, I lived it.”

He credited Rams coach Sean McVay for teaching him the kind of team and culture he wants to create in Minnesota.

“I hope to bring to our football team here a lot of those characteristics that he instilled that helped us win a world championship,” O’Connell said.

Earlier Thursday, the Vikings announced the hiring of nine assistant coaches, including Donatell and assistant head coach Mike Pettine, the head coach at Cleveland when O’Connell got his first NFL job and the coordinator Packers defense from 2018 to 2020.

The team also added Chris Rumph as their defensive line coach; Brian Angelichio and Curtis Modkins of the Rams as passing game and running game coordinators; fellow Rams assistant Chris O’Hara as quarterbacks coach; and former Broncos guard Chris Kuper as the next offensive line coach.

startribune Gt Itly

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