Head Coach Evaluators Unsure About Kevin O’Connell

Mar 2, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell during the NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The slow portion of the NFL offseason is when subjective rankings and lists thrive. Recently, we’ve seen some attempts to rank the league’s head coaches. I’ve been curious to see what people outside of the Vikings world think of Kevin O’Connell, the young HC who has inspired a lot of hope among Minnesota fans.

A piece on PFF doesn’t include O’Connell. I expected some attempt to project how he might fare in his opening year with the Vikings. Nevertheless, I get that it can feel impossible to guess how a coach who didn’t call plays last year and who has never been a head coach will perform.

More recently, Pro Football Network put forth their own head coach ranking. K/O finds himself in the 32nd spot. His tier is titled “The Rookies.” Take a peak at their blurb:

Kevin O’Connell, despite being a former NFL QB and coordinator, is the mystery man among the head-coaching ranks. While the Vikings kept their roster mostly in place, O’Connell will clearly bring his own ideas to the table. O’Connell is a true wild card, for better or worse.

Plenty of former backup QBs do well as head coaches, and coming from the Sean McVay system is encouraging. Even still, evaluators aren’t sure if Minnesota’s head coach can really thrive in his first year.

Prior to his job with Minnesota, O’Connell’s two most significant coaching positions have been as OC for Washington and LA. In 2019, he was in charge of Washington’s offense. His team finished in last place in points for, averaging a measly 16.6 points per game. The performance with LA, obviously, was far better (23.3/game in 2020, 27.1/game in 2021). It’s difficult to discern, though, how much of that is Kevin O’Connell and how much is McVay.   

Overall, he has seven years of NFL coaching. Washington and LA are the most notable teams, but he has previously worked for Cleveland and San Francisco. Partnering these positions with some time as a player gives him experience to draw from, though it’s a far smaller resume than many of the league’s other HCs.

At the end of mini camp, K/O indicated that he has his eye on Week 1 against the Packers. It’ll be our first chance to see what O’Connell’s career as a head coach will look like.