The Minnesota Vikings enter 2022 looking to reverse their fortunes following an 8-9 season, with head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman both shown the door. They are expected to contend for the playoffs, but the division still runs through Green Bay. If you ask Bovada, though, new head coach Kevin O’Connell should turn some heads.
Coming over from the prolific St. Louis Rams offense, Kevin O’Connell seems to be the type of head coach Minnesota Vikings fans were craving. As Zimmer’s defense struggled in recent seasons, his offenses were generally led by coordinators who didn’t move the needle and failed to innovate. With players such as Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson at the disposal of highly-paid quarterback Kirk Cousins, more needed to be done when putting up points.
Bringing in O’Connell signified ownership’s desire to capitalize on a roster that should’ve been viewed as one of the best landing spots across the league. Now with the former Rams offensive coordinator in charge, online oddsmaker Bovada has suggested that Minnesota’s ball coach is the favorite to win the NFL Coach of the Year Award.
At 12/1 odds, O’Connell slightly bests Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley (14/1) and is also ahead of Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett (16/1) as well as Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel (16/1). Of that group, O’Connell inherited the third-best quarterback in Cousins, but McDaniel was gifted with explosive wide receiver Tyreek Hill over the offseason. Staley gets to work with the young phenom Justin Herbert, while Hackett saw his opportunity for success rise as Denver acquired Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks.
The last head coach of the Minnesota Vikings to win the NFL Coach of the Year Award was the late Dennis Green. Green took that team to an 11-5 record alongside defensive coordinator and all-time great Tony Dungy. Unfortunately, they dropped a wild card game to Washington, and that was the end of an otherwise strong season.
Prior to Green winning the award, it had been quite some time as well. Back in 1969, Hall of Famer Bud Grant won the award when he led Minnesota to a 12-2 record. That season ended in a Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and was the first of four franchise appearances. Grant was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after producing a lifetime 158-96 career record.
It would be foolish to suggest winning the award would lead to a Grant-esque career trajectory for O’Connell, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to start things on the right foot. Grant’s honor came in his third season at the age of 42. O’Connell takes over the reins at just 37 years old and will look to parlay his first season into a sustained level of success for Skol Nation.