EAGAN, Minn. — Former NFL quarterback Kevin O'Connell is officially the new head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, entrusted to steer the storied franchise from turbulent waters into a new era.
The announcement was made by the Vikings Wednesday, confirming one of the worst-kept secrets in team history. The club decided on O'Connell as its new coach during interviews last week, but was prohibited from making it official until his employer, the Los Angeles Rams, competed in Sunday's Super Bowl.
The Rams, with O'Connell acting as offensive coordinator, defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20.
"We are ecstatic to add Kevin as our head coach," said Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf in a released statement. "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."
"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," added 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 spent two seasons as the Rams' offensive coordinator, leading them to a NFL ranking of 9th in total offense per game in 2021. Under his guidance both quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Cooper Kupp turned in career years. Some have expressed concern that it was head coach Sean McVay, and not O'Connell who called plays for the Rams, but organization insiders say he played a key role in shaping the team's attack.
"He's a great leader. I think he's got great capacity and command for this game," said McVay when asked about his coordinator. "He's got a great ability to relate to the players and be able to connect with them. I think one of the most important things as a coach, is do the players know that you care about them and can you make them a better football player? Kevin checks both of those boxes."
O'Connell posted a message to Vikings fans across the organization's social media accounts Wednesday evening:
O'Connell began his NFL coaching career as Cleveland's quarterbacks coach in 2015, before moving to San Francisco to work in quality control with Adofo-Mensah. Next on the resume was Washington, where O'Connell worked with current Vikings QB Kirk Cousins as quarterbacks coach. Cousins threw for 4,091 yards with 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his lone season with O'Connell.
He was promoted to offensive coordinator for the 2019 season before signing on with McVay and the Rams.
Terms of the deal between the Vikings and O'Connell were not released.
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