Report: McVay’s Influence “Readily Apparent” in Kevin O’Connell Offense

Dec 21, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay celebrates against the Seattle Seahawks in the second half at SoFi Stadium. The Rams defeated the Seahawks 20-10. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Recently, Nate Tice visited the Bears’, Packers’, and Vikings’ training camps. He then put forth some thoughts on each team for The Athletic. Vikings fans, by and large, are hoping to see a more dynamic offense in 2022. Perhaps some influence from Sean McVay will help Kevin O’Connell to make the Minnesota offense more explosive.

For the past two seasons, Kevin O’Connell has been the offensive coordinator for the LA Rams. Working under McVay’s leadership probably helped O’Connell in his head coaching interview with the team. Indeed, following a Super Bowl win, O’Connell was hired to replace Mike Zimmer as the Vikings’ head coach. Ideally, K/O finds a way to revitalize Minnesota’s talented roster.

Take a look at what Tice observed when he discusses the Kevin O’Connell offense:

1. Head coach Kevin O’ Connell’s background with Sean McVay and the Rams was readily apparent in how the Vikings played on offense at the practice I attended. Jet motion featuring wide receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen was not just for window dressing, but for legitimate handoffs to both players. Given Jefferson and Thielen can each play both inside and outside and are plus blockers, it’s easy to envision O’Connell using them similarly to the old Rams pairing of Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods.

He goes on to note that it looks like there will be more play action: “with the Vikings’ personnel, cranking the dial to 11 on play action, both in frequency and aggression, allows this offense a chance to throw haymakers at a moment’s notice.” Shortly thereafter, he expresses optimism about the “fun blend of veterans and talented young players” in the secondary.

Now, it’s worth noting that O’Connell likely should avoid trying to turn the Vikings into the Rams. It’s fine to take influence from a successful, innovative coach, but it’d likely be misguided to try to make Minnesota a mirror image of LA. I don’t believe that’s what O’Connell is trying to do. My impression is that he’s looking to take the relevant positives from the Rams to apply them to the Vikings. If successful, the scheme Kevin O’Connell is installing can help turn Minnesota’s offense into a much more dangerous group.

Per PFR, the Vikings finished 14th in points for with an average of 25 per game in 2021. Previously, they averaged 26.9 points per game (2020), 25.4 points per game (2019), and 22.5 points per game (2018). The potential is there for Minnesota to push their per-game average into the high 20s in the upcoming season.