Kevin O’Connell for NFL Coach of the Year?

kevin o'connell, minnesota vikings
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings have done, in 2023, what most of us would have dubbed ‘unthinkable’ just a handful of weeks ago when we were all arguing about whether or not the Wilfs should tear things down.

After digging themselves into an 0-3 hole (then 1-4), they’ve rattled off 5-straight wins and now sit in the middle of a wide-open NFC playoff race. Now, they have a wide open path to becoming just the 5th NFL team since 1990 to make the playoffs after losing their first three games of the season.

Kevin O’Connell for NFL Coach of the Year?

How much of the Vikings’ 2023 comeback story is thanks to their 2nd year head coach, Kevin O’Connell? We don’t know for sure, but there is a mounting pile of evidence pointing favorably in his direction. So naturally, people who matter around the league are starting to take notice.

Related: Vikings Think Kevin O’Connell Might be NFL’s Next Great Coach

On Monday, for example, one of the biggest NFL insiders in the game, Dianna Russini (The Athletic), tweeted that her obvious choice for Coach of the Year, right now, is Kevin O’Connell and that she “can’t be swayed”.

KOC coaching out of his mind recently

The Vikings 5-game winning streak and rise from the dead, isn’t even the most impressive part of Kevin O’Connell’s 2023 coaching resume. The Vikings have won their last two games without starting QB Kirk Cousins, who was playing at an MVP level, before tearing his Achilles tendon.

Not to mention, Justin Jefferson has missed 4.5 games of their winning streak with a hamstring injury that we still do not know when he will come back from. Oh, and then backup rookie 5th rounder, Jaren Hall, went down with a concussion, trying to get into the endzone after an impressive 2nd drive of his first start.

Next man up again, right? Yup, even if that next QB up is a career backup — 28-year-old Josh Dobbs — who’s only been on the roster for three days and doesn’t know the names of most of his teammates.

kevin o'connell for nfl coach of the year minnesota vikings
Nov 12, 2023 – Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

No big deal, when your head coach is Kevin O’Connell. He just jumped onto the microphone and ran his new rocket scientist quarterback through each play pre-snap, as if he was operating a Madden offense until 15 seconds left on the play-clock, then letting the CPU take over.

Oddsmakers push O’Connell up COY betting boards

And it’s not just league insiders who are eyeing O’Connell up as NFL Coach of the Year. The oddsmakers are moving him up their boards, as well. At MGM, the Vikings head coach has the 4th-best odds of winning COY (+1000), according, who sums up KOC’s 2023 performance pretty well.

Kevin O’Connell, Minnesota Vikings – Everyone wrote off the Vikings after they fell to 1-4 and Justin Jefferson landed on injured reserve. Yet, Minnesota kept winning. Then, Kirk Cousins suffered an Achilles’ injury in Week 8, surely that would be the nail in the Vikings’ coffin.

Nope. O’Connell isn’t just winning games with Joshua Dobbs, he has the career backup playing like a Pro Bowl quarterback and O’Connell’s hand-picked defensive coordinator (Brian Flores) is doing wonders with Minnesota’s defense.

Matt Johnson –

Related: Josh Dobbs Magic Finally Fades but Vikings Hang on to Beat Saints

Minnesota’s 2nd-year head coach is far from perfect, but so far this season, O’Connell has proven an innate ability to connect with his players and keep a steady ship behind the scenes, even in rough waters.

On top of that, KOC has mostly lived up to his hype as an offensive mind and play-caller too, especially since Cousins and Jefferson went out with injuries. Can he keep the winning streak alive, now that he’s turned the ship around? That will likely be the deciding factor in whether or not O’Connell proves Russini right or wrong.

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