The Beginning of a New Leadership Trinity

Jun 7, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell looks on during mandatory mini camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Previously, I referred to the Rick Spielman-Mike Zimmer-Kirk Cousins trio as the Minnesota Vikings’ leadership trinity.

At times, I believed that they were all interconnected. If one went, then the other two would also be let go. Spielman and Zimmer have both been fired, but the team has decided to hang onto Cousins. In fact, they extended his contract, allowing the QB to partner with Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell for a couple more seasons.

For better or worse, Cousins, O’Connell, and Adofo-Mensah are the three people with the most power over how the 2022 season will go.

In many ways, a lot of the hard work for Adofo-Mensah has been done. He has shepherded the team through the draft and free agency. He has navigated the offseason and its cuts. Heck, he has even pulled off quite a few trades. His work will continue through the year, but much of the focus will shift to the coaches and players.

O’Connell’s work is just beginning. He has been outspoken about his desire to prepare for the Week 1 game against the Packers. The game is now a week away. It’ll be our first chance to see what he can do as a purple play caller. Even more important, perhaps, will be the decisions he makes in critical moments. Does he opt to go for it on fourth down? Does he manage his timeouts effectively? Does he allow Greg Joseph to try a kick from deep?

These are all situations that could plausibly present themselves in Week 1. We’ll need to see how O’Connell navigates them.

Meanwhile, Cousins is entering his 11th NFL season. It’s hard to believe, isn’t it? Cousins was drafted by the Commanders in 2012. He has now been in Minnesota for 4 years; the upcoming season will be year 5.

We’re at the point when a lot of Vikings fans are expecting to see more team success. That means both getting into the playoffs and winning games (emphasis on the multiple) once there. Given the position he plays, Cousins will get a lot of the praise or criticism for how the team does.

As far as I can tell, the current leadership group for the Minnesota Vikings has a two-year window. Cousins’ deal covers the 2022 and 2023 seasons. If things go well, he can be extended. If things go less than well, the team can head in a new direction at QB.

The upcoming regular season is the first chance to see what Adofo-Mensah, O’Connell, and Cousins can do. The team has had a good offseason under their new leadership. The roster has taken a step forward, the coaches appear to be doing a good job, and the players are mostly healthy.

It’s time to start translating it all into wins on Sunday.

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