The Minnesota Vikings are expected to announce the hiring of Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell as their next head coach after Super Bowl LVI.
The Vikings were expected to pull Jim Harbaugh away from Michigan, but Harbaugh confirmed his intentions to return to coach Michigan in 2022. The plan was for Harbaugh to accept the head coaching job in Minnesota and leave Michigan after seven seasons in Ann Arbor, Mich. Since Harbaugh’s Wednesday interview did not result in a job acceptance, they turned to O’Connell as their next option.
O’Connell’s hiring will not be official until after the Super Bowl on Feb. 13. He has been the Rams’ offensive coordinator since 2020 and is on the doorstep of becoming a Super Bowl Champion as an offensive coordinator. The outcome of the Super Bowl will definitely help the optics of the hiring because the Vikings would be bringing in a championship-caliber coach to their team. Regardless of what happens with the Rams, a loss would not damage the perception of the hire.
Rams OC Kevin O'Connell — the favorite to be the Vikings' next head coach, per @AdamSchefter and @DanGrazianoESPN — opened his press conference by asking reporters to stick to questions about the Rams and Super Bowl LVI. pic.twitter.com/pefHRkQTBB
— Brady Henderson (@BradyHenderson) February 4, 2022
He would not be the first offensive coordinator hired as a team’s head coach after a loss in the Super Bowl. After the Atlanta Falcons-New England Patriots Super Bowl in February 2017, former Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was hired by the San Francisco 49ers as their next head coach after his offense blew a 28-3 lead to the Patriots.
O’Connell is still focused on finishing his job with the Rams, but he will have a chance to run a franchise with a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. If quarterback Kirk Cousins returns to the Vikings, he will be able to get the most out of Cousins along with Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Dalvin Cook. If he is hired by the Vikings, finding a solid defensive coordinator will be important to keep structure in the defense with veterans like Harrison Smith and Anthony Barr.
The Vikings wanted to move on from Mike Zimmer and bring in a coach with an offensive focus. O’Connell is an attractive hire because of his ties to the Sean McVay coaching tree. Teams want to bring in the next young coach who can accelerate an offense and O’Connell has the ability to make the most out of the Vikings.