Skip to main content

Vikings to Hire Rams OC Kevin O'Connell as Their Head Coach After Super Bowl LVI

O'Connell, 36, will be Mike Zimmer's replacement as the 10th head coach in franchise history.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

The Vikings are expected to hire LA Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell as their next head coach, according to multiple reports. It can't be made official until after the Super Bowl on February 13th, but the team is moving towards finalizing a deal to make O'Connell the 10th head coach in franchise history. They've reportedly informed the other finalists, Rams DC Raheem Morris and Giants DC Patrick Graham, that they're out of the running.

This news comes just 30 minutes after the news broke that Jim Harbaugh — who was the presumed favorite heading into his interview on Wednesday — will return to Michigan. Whether that decision was made by Harbaugh or the Vikings is unclear, but Minnesota quickly pivoted to O'Connell.

"[The] Vikings interviewed O’Connell in LA on Monday and came away impressed with his vision for the franchise," reports ESPN's Courtney Cronin. "He was emerging as the front runner before the Harbaugh interest emerged last Saturday and now is in line to land the job."

According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, the Vikings were impressed by O'Connell's "knowledge of their scheme, personnel and his overall presence." 

O'Connell, who turns 37 in May, fits the mold of the bright, young, offensive minded-head coach that so many teams are looking for in this era of the NFL. The former quarterback has spent the past two seasons as Sean McVay's offensive coordinator with the Rams. He'll become the third McVay offensive assistant to become a head coach, joining Matt LaFleur (Packers) and Zac Taylor (Bengals). Former Rams DC Brandon Staley is also a current HC (Chargers).

McVay calls the plays in LA, but O'Connell does have play-calling experience from the final 11 games of the 2019 season in Washington and the 2021 preseason with the Rams. But there's much more to an offensive coordinator's job that calling plays. O'Connell is regarded as a brilliant coach when it comes to game-planning, designing and installing plays, coaching players in practice, and much more. He'll bring an intricate knowledge of the McVay offensive scheme with him to the Vikings. Being a scheme and strategy wizard is much different from being a head coach, but clearly the Vikings believe he can succeed and grow in that role.

It'll be important for O'Connell to fill out a strong staff, especially in terms of who he adds as a defensive coordinator. He will presumably keep a few holdovers from Mike Zimmer's 2021 staff while bringing in many new faces.

O'Connell grew up in southern California and played quarterback at San Diego State. He was drafted by the Patriots in the third round in 2008 to be Tom Brady's backup, but his NFL playing career lasted just five years. He got his first coaching job as the Browns' QBs coach in 2015. 

O'Connell then spent 2016 on the 49ers' offensive staff doing special projects. He overlapped with new Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah during that year. In 2017, O'Connell was Kirk Cousins' QB coach in Washington, which is notable considering the major Cousins decision facing the Vikings this offseason. He got "passing game coordinator" added to his title in 2018, then was Washington's OC in 2019 before joining McVay in LA.

The new era of Vikings football is about to begin, and it's all about youth. O'Connell is 36 and Adofo-Mensah is 40. They're replacing a 65-year-old (Zimmer) and a 59-year-old (Rick Spielman). Neither has been a head coach or GM before. Now, O'Connell and Adofo-Mensah will get to learn and grow together as they attempt to build a Super Bowl contender in Minnesota.

Again, O'Connell's hiring won't be official until after the Super Bowl. That's when he'll be officially announced and introduced as the Vikings' newest head coach.

Thanks for reading. Make sure to bookmark this site and check back daily for the latest Vikings news and analysis all offseason long. Also, follow me on Twitter and feel free to ask me any questions on there.