Best Quotes From Kevin O’Connell’s Introductory Press Conference
The Minnesota Vikings officially welcomed Kevin O’Connell as their new head coach at Thursday’s introductory press conference. With chief executive Kwesi Adofo-Mensah at his side, it was the first opportunity for fans to see and hear of the new regime.
And it was also an opportunity for members of the media to ask questions.
O’Connell touched on many different topics, including the uncertainty surrounding quarterback Kirk Cousins’ future in Minnesota, the change in defensive philosophy and whether he would make the offensive call.
Everything on the table was discussed at the press conference. Here are some of O’Connell’s best quotes from the event.
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If I had a dime for every time Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell used the word collaboration, I’d be touring space right now on a rocket.
The Minnesota Diet insists that everything within the organization will be an egoless, collaborative effort. So things could be friendlier than ever for Vikings.
“When we started talking about football, we started talking about a shared vision of what we want our football team to look like,” O’Connell said. “It’s our job to take the team that we’ve built and put them on the pitch and execute the game plans as well as possible and put them in position to succeed, but there has to be collaboration. I think that’s the number one thing that we talked about, that we’re so excited about, is the process of getting to know each other.
“We have known from day one that we are going to be able to collaborate, communicate with each other and create a culture here that the players will feel. They will feel a connection between [Adofo-Mensah’s] staff and our coaching staff, and it will only make players feel as connected as they ever have with a coaching staff before.
It was believed that Anthony Barr was practically gone from the Vikings. Maybe he’s still gone. But the fact that O’Connell brought it up at the press conference is remarkable.
Barr is expected to become an unrestricted free agent on March 16. So it will be interesting to see if the team can strike a deal. There is no doubt that a player of his talents would fit in well in a 3-4 defence.
“Along with linebackers Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr, those guys have long been huge defensive problems for people in this league,” O’Connell said. “I think there are ways to use these guys and allow them to play with an attacking mindset, while they are still responsible for the things they are responsible for defensively. And then I think we have players both inside and on the edges of the defensive line that can impact the quarterback.
“But when it all works together, when that cover can make it murky for the quarterback and that rush is one step closer to going home, and those backers are doing everything they can to force negative runs on early downs and finishing plays in the passing game can be a beautiful thing.
When asked if he thought the Vikings were anywhere near Super Bowl contention, O’Connell said adamantly no. He really believes the team will be able to compete next season.
It makes sense considering the incredible talent already on the roster. They could have at least made the playoffs last season, if they could find a way to close the games.
“I don’t. I really don’t know,” O’Connell said. and obviously what kind of plans we can put in place to achieve the goals we want to accomplish I think there are a lot of reasons on both sides of the ball that make me really excited to implement the systems and processes that we’re going to implement, which these guys can then pick up and use as players.
Who better to have as a head coach than the guy who just won a Super Bowl? O’Connell knows what it took to help lead the Los Angeles Rams to the Promised Land. So he’s clearly in a unique position to take some of those lessons with him in Minnesota.
“Vikings fans, I just want to let you know that you will absolutely get everything I have on a daily basis,” O’Connell said. “Knowing how hard it is to win in this league and coming from an organization where we barely managed to achieve the ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl, I know what it takes.
“I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it and I know how difficult it can be. But if you have the right kind of people with you – the right ownership, the right leadership structure with you, and I know we already have the right kind of players in this building – we can achieve a lot of really special things.”
O’Connell is obviously a big supporter of Kirk Cousins as a quarterback. Asked about the uncertainty surrounding his situation, the Vikings head coach seemed adamant that he expects Cousins to be on the roster next season.
“I know he’s under contract and I’m excited to coach him,” O’Connell said. “We’ve already started thinking about how we’re going to build those systems for him and our other quarterbacks. … It takes all 11s to move the ball in attack – to run it, to throw it, to score points in the red zone. But I expect Kirk to be part of what we do.
O’Connell just called the winning Super Bowl player LVI. Why wouldn’t he want to continue taking care of attacking play duties? This will obviously be the plan going forward with the Vikings.
“Yes, I plan to call the [offensive] rooms. My playing career gave me a great platform as a coach because I spent a lot of time watching games from the sidelines,” O’Connell said. “But I will say that comes with the ability to see the game in a way that I feel very ready to call the game. I feel like I’ve been around one of the best point guards in the NFL. the last two years.
“And obviously the system that we run here will have a lot of the characteristics of what we did in Los Angeles – the ability to have that offensive mindset and the ability to use our offense at the line of scrimmage. And with that, you have to have ownership of what you do to call it, and you have to have ownership of what you do at quarterback to lead the offense. I’m very attached to the circumstances and the situation here to be really ready to do that.
O’Connell admits it’s fair to consider the future Vikings defense a 3-4, but he also expressed the importance of a hybrid defense. He didn’t necessarily want to lock his team into a single philosophy. The Vikings defense will be a unit that will show a lot of different looks.
“From a basic point of view, you could see it this way [as a 3-4]”, O’Connell said. “…But a big thing is to be multiple with your fronts because I know, as an offensive coach, if we know where you’re going to be and where you’re going to line up, it makes it pretty easy to at least design things for attacking angles – figure out how you’re going to direct the ball and how you’re going to protect yourself.
“But when you change that image and force your opponents to deal with multiple fronts during a game or practice in some cases, that can be a real weapon for a defensive pairing with some really good stuff in the background. That’s kind of what we’re looking for.