Kevin O’Connell Threatens to Bench Vikings Players Who Can’t Hold onto the Football

NFL: Preseason-Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings
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Minnesota Vikings head coach, Kevin O’Connell, has been a bit of a rollercoaster over the last 12 hours. Yesterday afternoon, he took to the postgame podium and expressed an unshaken belief in his 0-3 team, clearly trying to lift the spirits of players, coaches, fans and media members around him.

Kevin O’Connell somber during Monday’s press conference

But early Monday afternoon, not even 24 hours after speaking on Sunday, he met with reporters again and the head coach’s tone was noticeably different. It was as if, after dissecting the Vikings’ performance and assessing the realistic likelihood of a turnaround that ends in a playoff appearance, the normally optimistic head coach was feeling defeated.

“All right. Very, very frustrated. And, you know, our team is our team is, you know, experiencing and our coaches and players, we’re experiencing a significant test right now, trying to, you know, have the mental toughness to overcome some very, very difficult results over the last few weeks. And what we’ve got to do is find ways to continue evolving and changing our process, to prepare to find the advantages we can to be at our best for these games.”

Related: Should Minnesota Vikings Focus on Future After Falling to 0-3 vs Chargers

After such a successful 2022 season, in his head coaching debut, it’s clear the 0-3 start is weighing heavily on Kevin O’Connell. You have to wonder if he had a meeting with the Wilfs and/or Kwesi Adofo-Mensah sometime in the last 24 hours that made him realize the urgency to win this coming weekend vs the Carolina Panthers.

Minnesota Vikings players who fumble will be benched going forward

KOC wasn’t done. There was another first that he displayed at the press conference podium on Monday, when he threatened to bench offensive ball carriers, going forward, if they fumble. It came after he talked about how badly the turnovers vs the Chargers cost them.

Reporter: “Kevin there was still some ball security issues yesterday…

KOC: Yeah…

Reporter: Maybe not as bad, but…

KOC: No, you know I… not to cut you off… that was a huge emphasis, and really, that first turnover of the day was when we were really churning out some yards, running the ball, about to enter the red zone and we convert on that third down and the ball gets taken away, literally in a mirrored setting to our, you know, ‘see two, split two’ kind of drill.

And nobody’s going to be harder on themselves about that one than TJ [Hockenson]. But the fact of the matter is, you know, it’s still at a critical critical turnover; where we [deferred after winning the coin toss], defense gets a stop and we’re driving down there for points and we, you know, come away with nothing. And then the next time we go on the field, we’re trailing.

So you know, that one, I thought there was some, you know, other times where forward progress and things, and there was a lot of discussion going on throughout the day. But we need to end every snap with the football in our hands. And that’s going to be continued at urgency and emphasis like it was last week. And we’re going to continue to do it and do it differently and emphasize it different ways until that value is received, because that is a losing formula, as we’ve seen, being where we’re at and the turnover differential right now.

Reporter: Do you think fumbles can become contagious, for a team?

KOC: “No, I think that’s something that we’re going to we’re going to fix one way or the other. Either guys are going to do it or we’re going to have to put other guys in the game that have ball security.”

Related: Potential Kirk Cousins to Jets Trade Continues to Gain Steam

Kevin O’Connell displaying new sense of urgency

A winless start to the 2023 season has brought out a different side of Kevin O’Connell, which isn’t surprising. Everybody can easily hold hands, smile and sing kumbaya when things are good. When shit hits the fan and jobs are on the line, that’s when we see the world class competitiveness become more public.

KOC may seem like a nice guy and everybody’s best friend most of the time but he was a professional athlete and now spends his life coaching them. I can promise he has a mean and competitive streak in him just like all big time athletes and coaches do. And Kevin is no idiot. He knows exactly what is on the line over the next few weeks.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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