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Kevin O’Connell Has Earned a Bad Game, But It Needs to Stick

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Kevin O'Connell Has Earned a Bad Game, But It Needs to Stick
Dec 11, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell has been the breath of fresh air that Minnesota sports fans have needed for a long while. In a land where the winters run long, and playoff journeys run short across the board, he’s been a pleasant surprise, and I truly believe he is a big part of the Vikings 10 wins this season.

When O’Connell walked into the locker room this offseason, it was a group of men starving for a change. There were good and bad that came with Mike Zimmer, and it was largely a good situation, but his approach to the day-to-day operations inside TCO Performance Center had worn thin and, in fact, was wearing down others inside the building.

O’Connell changed that. It’s tough to say if he’s a “player’s coach” or not so far, but it’s clear that the players enjoy having him leading the way. He empowers them, he encourages them, he believes in them, and they’re all accepting of it.

Dec 11, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions running back Jamaal Williams (30) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) and linebacker Eric Kendricks. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

That’s amazing, as mentioned, a breath of fresh air that was badly needed, but it doesn’t change the fact that he might still be a bit green and is largely learning on the job during his first stint as a head coach in the NFL.

On Sunday, we saw a handful of coaching decisions that went south for the team. Fourth down attempts in their own field, two-point conversion attempts, clock control, it all reared the ugly side of its head today in Detroit. While these scenarios do not change the outlook for his career or put him on all of our collective bad sides, it needs to be a learning experience for O’Connell and a reminder for the fanbase of the actuality of the situation. He’s a first-year head coach, a first-year play caller, and this playoff push will be the first of his career while holding those positions.

Dec 11, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

Learn from this, Kevin. Learn from this, players. Learn from this, support staff.

Take this experience today and never forget it, especially when the playoffs come. These are the moments where you become battle tested. Just as much can be learned from this loss in Detroit as remembered from the nine one-score wins they’ve experienced this season. Carry this one with you the rest of the way. It will be essential when the stakes are that much higher each and every week.

Aj Mansour is a member of The Power Trip Morning Show on KFAN and works for iHeartMedia and the Vikings Radio Network. He’s also a senior writer for VikingsTerritory.com. Be sure to follow him on social media for the latest Vikings news and big opinions – @AjKFAN



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