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

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Joshua Dobbs had magic in his cleats, during this weekend’s Minnesota Vikings win over the Atlanta Falcons. Dobbs put on an incredible show and, deservedly, was treated like a hero in the locker room afterwards. But as is usually the case with team sports, the victory cannot be attributed to one factor or individual.

When forced into playing a newly acquired career backup QB, like Joshua Dobbs (who’s been on roster four days and doesn’t even know most of his teammates names yet, let alone Kevin O’Connell’s offensive system), for 95% of an NFL game (because the 5th round rookie you prepared all week, to make his first pro start, just left with an injury on your 2nd drive), it takes a village.

Kevin O’Connell shines bright in win

But the most important role in every village, is the leader. And the leader of this (still under construction) 2023 Vikings village, is their head coach Kevin O’Connell, who was literally translating the Vikings playbook to Dobbs through his helmet in real time, on Sunday.

Related: Vikings Players Wear Kirk Cousins T-Shirts While Warming Up in Atlanta

Dobbs described it as preparing for a Spanish final all year, before finding out a few days before that it’s actually a French final. Then, having an interpreter (O’Connell) on test day to help translate the two languages.

“It’s like if you were taking AP Spanish all year and you showed up on Wednesday and someone told you, you have an AP French exam on Sunday. And you gotta go execute. Someone’s gonna talk to you in Spanish and translate it to the French.”

Joshua Dobbs (postgame press conference)

But O’Connell’s coaching prowess this season goes far beyond translating a new playbook, for an even newer QB, in 30-second increments when he cannot talk back to you. Playbook translation is just the latest talent the 2nd year head coach has shown off this season.

Vikings starting to believe Kevin O’Connell is HIM

KOC’s culture has especially shined through, in recent weeks. Most NFL locker rooms aren’t coming back from a 1-4 start, as history has shown.

Yet, O’Connell has lead the Vikings out of that darkness and they’ve now emerged with a very respectable 5-4 record; all while losing their mot important players, Justin Jefferson and Kirk Cousins, during the four-game win streak.

Sunday’s unlikely win however, might be the biggest branch on what is starting to grow into a beautiful 2023 head coaching tree. Some even believe the Minnesota Vikings have found the NFL’s next great head coach, in Kevin O’Connell.

And according to Ben Goessling (Star Tribune), top executives within the organization are on that list of believers.

“I had this conversation with a couple of Vikings staffers before the game. And they were saying, This is the kind of day where you figure out what a coach is made of. How much can the coach help elevate a team in this kind of a spot?

I talked to those same people afterwards, and they said, ‘we kind of already knew, but this was another example of, this is a coach that can elevate and make the difference’.

You know, will he do that forever? Will he ultimately be capable of that through the long haul? We’ll see. But there certainly is a belief among people high up in the organization that this was one of those days that he earned his money and had a lot to do with the reason they won.”

Ben Goessling – Star Tribune

In all reality, we still have no idea what Dobbs’ future in purple really looks like, beyond his impossible performance from Sunday. Yes, he made some magical plays vs the Falcons and lead the Vikings to one of their more unbelievable regular season victories in recent memory.

Very big, if true…

But Josh Dobbs’ involvement in Minnesota’s offensive plans, the rest of this season (and beyond) is very much up in the air. Hell, Dobbs could find himself back on the bench as soon as next week.

Related: Vikings Want to Bring Kirk Cousins Back

I wouldn’t bet on that happening, but it is possible Jaren Hall could recover quickly from the 1st quarter concussion he suffered vs Atlanta, or that Nick Mullins is immediately be ready to play, when he becomes eligible to come off injured reserve, this week. In general, good players come and go just like monumental moments.

On the contrary, if Kevin O’Connell really is the NFL’s next great head coach, like top-ranking Vikings officials are starting to believe, then it’s fair to expect this team to have one of the league’s best coaches for the next two decades.

After an unbelievable performance, immediate limelight was rightfully on the new backup quarterback who made it all happen. But looking into the Vikings’ future, the most important development that came from yesterday’s miraculous victory, could be the talent clearly oozing from their sophomore head coach.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan