After a bitterly disappointing season in 2021, a new era dawns in Minnesota.
All hopes and aspirations of playoff football were snatched away in Week 17 when on January 2, the Green Packers swept aside a Vikings team quarterbacked by Sean Mannion. With starting quarterback Kirk Cousins unavailable for the game, the Vikings never looked like getting the win needed to keep their playoff chances alive, going down 37-10 in Lambeau Field and ending the reigns of incumbent general manager and head coach.
Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer were fired on January 10, the day after the Vikings beat the Bears in their final game of the regular season. Back-to-back seasons with no playoff football were not good enough. As the weeks went by, more was added to the story that painted the story of a troublesome time in Minnesota — a regime allegedly ruled by fear that saw GM and HC not talking to each other by the end. When Mark Wilf faced the media, he spoke of ownership’s desire for a new direction and a new culture across the entire franchise. Leadership, communication, and collaboration were the buzzwords.
Then came the appointment of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, followed by Kevin O’Connell. The two men were tasked with bringing the Vikings forward into a more modern culture across the board. So far, things look to be going well, as everything coming out of the Vikings camp appears to be positive. The players seem happy and excited, and Vikings fans can look forward in hope.
Adofo-Mensah looks like a man with a plan. He identified value in this year’s draft and moved to gather picks in that area — not caring if that went against traditional notions. His two recent trades also show a plan. Jalen Reagor and Ross Blacklock are both high draft picks that have had rocky starts to their NFL careers. They’re reclamation projects that the Vikings got relatively cheaply. If the Vikings can unlock the potential that saw them drafted so high, they will be some shrewd business.
O’Connell has looked and sounded the part so far. The young, exciting head coach many Vikings have craved. However, this is a results business, and it’s time for him to showcase a high-power offense. The Vikings have had one of the most explosive offenses in the league in recent years. However, there was always the feeling the offense was somewhat hamstrung by its former head coach’s preference for the defensive side of the game.
If O’Connell can unleash that offense to its full potential, the Vikings will be an exciting team to watch. That’s part one of the job for the new regime. Ultimately, it is winning that counts, and for Minnesota, it is finally bringing that Lombardi trophy home.
We are at the beginning of that journey, which will take time. Strange things happen in sports. The Vikings winning the Super Bowl this year is not beyond the realms of possibility. In reality, it is unlikely, but a good season playing positive, exciting football. Ending with some playoff football would be an excellent foundation for the Viking to build from.
When Vikings fans wake up on Sunday morning, a new era dawns in Minnesota. with the first meaningful football of the Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell era. At 4:25 pm ET, the time for talking comes to an end. We will see how the Vikings offense will look under O’Connell, how the defense looks in the new scheme under Ed Donatell and how they bring it all together as a team.
It doesn’t get any bigger than starting with a game against Green Bay. O’Connell and his team have the chance to lay down a marker for a positive future.