Vikings Rumor Wrangle: K.J. Osborn The Analyst, Harbaugh’s NFL Interest, & The Hybrid Approach

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Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Vikings rumors aren’t as abundant as they will be in a few weeks, but there is still plenty of intrigue surrounding the purple and gold.

As a result, I’m returning to the “Vikings Rumor Wrangle,” a series I’ve leaned on previously to keep readers informed on what’s being whispered about in Vikings Land. In this iteration, we’ve got some chatter about K.J. Osborn, Jim Harbaugh, and the Week 18 plan for the starters.

1) K.J. Osborn, Football Analyst

When he isn’t on the football field, K.J. Osborn can be found offering some football analysis for The 33rd Team. His film breakdown of some critical plays against Indianapolis is really great, especially when he explains his rationale for why he blocks the way he does on the screen pass to Dalvin Cook.

For the season, he has 55 catches, 533 yards, and 5 TDs.

In a few years, K.J. Osborn may be one of this team’s captains. He consistently demonstrates great effort and compete, and don’t forget that he’s the one who thought to go get the football after Jalen Nailor’s first-career touchdown:

I’m a fan of Osborn as both a player and analyst. Hopefully, the team will keep leaning on him to help take some of the pressure off Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson. Oh, and don’t be shocked if he’s a team captain in not too long.

2) Jim Harbaugh’s Next Chance

For a little while, it looked like the Minnesota Vikings would be welcoming Jim Harbaugh to be the team’s new head coach. As we all know by now, things didn’t materialize, so the passionate coach went back to Michigan.

Apparently, the desire is still there to return to the NFL. The Athletic is reporting that he’d accept a position if one became available: “Multiple sources close to Jim Harbaugh told The Athletic on Monday they expect he will leave Michigan for the NFL if a franchise offers him a coaching job.”

Dec 31, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh reacts from the sideline during the second half in the Orange Bowl college football CFP national semifinal game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

As the head coach of the 49ers, Harbaugh did some good things. He led them to a Super Bowl appearance and compiled a .695 winning percentage. Sean Payton has been in the headlines for a position somewhere, but Harbaugh will have his supporters.

Vikings fans may be interested to see how it goes since he was so close to leading things for the purple and gold.

3) Subtly Resting Starters

Kevin O’Connell’s Monday press conference featured a variety of topics. Unsurprisingly, there was some curiosity about how things would look for the starters in Week 18.

From what I can gather, O’Connell is looking toward a bit of a hybrid model, one where the starters, well, start but may still get snaps off. On this week’s episode of Notes from the North, Sam predicted that Minnesota would pursue this precise path.

“The 2-seed,” O’Connell explained, “is still available for us.” Given the potential to finish 2nd, Minnesota’s head coach expressed some desire to play the starters. Nevertheless, there is some suggestion that he could rest some starters since he noted that his approach would be “more subtle” than simply putting players like Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, and other top talents on the bench.

Furthermore, O’Connell said that he sees value in overcoming “one of our low moments of the season” as he tries to re-establish some “momentum” going into the playoffs.

Forced to guess, I’d say that means we see a bit of a rotation of players rather than a clear-cut bench-the-starters approach, meaning a certain overlooked Vikings rookie may get an opportunity.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this piece.