Minnesota Vikings fans are highly optimistic about head coach Kevin O’Connell, as he is expected to bring significant changes and take the team into the playoffs in 2022 following two years of underperformance. Check out the top sportsbooks for betting on the NFL.
However, not everyone is convinced that he is the right coach. In June, Pro Football Network (PFN) ranked O’Connell the worst coach in the league. The new Vikings’ head coach had not even been coaching a game yet.
PFN’s Mike Kaye elaborated on why Kevin O’Connell is the last in the NFL ranking.
“Kevin O’Connell, despite being a former NFL QB and coordinator, is the mystery man among the head-coaching ranks. While the Vikings kept their roster mostly in place, O’Connell will clearly bring his own ideas to the table. O’Connell is a true wild card, for better or worse,” Kaye said.
O’Connell has been in the news for more than ten years. After playing in the NFL for four seasons, he worked as an assistant coach for another seven years. He was in charge as the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams in the past two seasons. But when the Vikings hired him in January, not much was known about his personality, how he worked, or his leadership value.
O’Connell’s first five months with the Vikings have been like a dream come true, barring two nights when his boss traded players with the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions. Throughout his career, he has been regarded as a prime example of positivity as he always says positive things.
Compared to the Vikings’ previous style of leadership, which was tough and old-school, this is a big change.
The “worst coach in the NFL” is the +1200 moneyline favorite to win Coach of the Year, according to popular sportsbooks, Despite the fact that Brian Daboll (New York Giants), Nathaniel Hackett (Denver Broncos), Mick McDaniel (Miami Dolphins), and Brandon Staley (Los Angeles Chargers) are close behind him in this race.
The sportsbooks, however, clearly favors first-year coaches, which is a bias. Every year, Matt LaFleur leads the Packers to the division title, but compared to O’Connell, his chances are not great. Still, there is a huge difference between O’Connell’s PFN reputation and betting odds on him.
O’Connell is likely to end up somewhere between the two predictions. A 12-5 or 11-6 record is required to win Coach of the Year. On the other hand, he would need to lead the Vikings to a bad season in 2022, something like 5-12, to prove PFN right.
The good news is that O’Connell can do a few things that will help him get closer to what the sportsbooks predicted would happen. With 14 games decided by eight points or fewer last season, the Vikings tied an NFL record. The depth chart isn’t a major concern as the team went 8-9 in 2021.
O’Connell was hired to be the team’s opposite of the former coach Mike Zimmer. By focusing on offense while fostering a culture that isn’t filled with arrogance, he was supposed to bring the team into the modern NFL.
Since O’Connell already has Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Kirk Cousins, Danielle Hunter, Za’Darius Smith, Eric Kendricks, Harrison Smith, and Patrick Peterson on the team’s roster, he does not need to “start over”. The 37-year-old Coach of the Year can get these players to work together, proving the sportsbooks right.
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