Title: Vikings’ Head Coach Kevin O’Connell Proves His Worth as Team Surges in NFC Playoff Race
Subtitle: Elite coaching plays a significant role in the Minnesota Vikings’ unexpected success
Date: [Insert Date]
The Minnesota Vikings have defied all odds this season, emerging as a serious contender in the NFC playoff race despite facing numerous challenges. While analytics may have predicted a regression for the team, the impact of their head coach, Kevin O’Connell, cannot be overlooked.
Last season, the Vikings finished with an impressive 13-4 record, but their underlying statistics suggested that they should have performed below .500. Their success was largely attributed to winning close games, which is not sustainable in the long run. However, it appears that O’Connell’s coaching prowess has played a significant role in the team’s ability to overcome adversity.
When the Vikings lost star wide receiver Justin Jefferson, many believed it was time to trade quarterback Kirk Cousins. However, even after losing Cousins to injury, the team has managed to stay in the NFC playoff race. This is a remarkable feat considering their roster deficiencies and the fact that their current quarterback, Joshua Dobbs, was recently traded by the struggling Arizona Cardinals.
O’Connell’s impact was evident in the Vikings’ recent 27-19 victory over the New Orleans Saints. Despite missing key players due to injury, Dobbs delivered an outstanding performance, throwing for 220 yards in the first half alone. The Saints made a comeback in the second half, but the Vikings held on to secure the win.
While the Saints may have had more star players on their roster, it was the Vikings’ superior coaching that ultimately made the difference. With a current record of 6-4, the Vikings are in a favorable position to secure the final wild-card spot in the NFC. This is a remarkable achievement considering their 1-4 start and the loss of their two most important players to injury.
O’Connell’s coaching abilities were on full display when Dobbs seamlessly integrated into the team’s offense just days after being traded. The Vikings’ road win against the Atlanta Falcons showcased the effectiveness of O’Connell’s coaching strategies.
Despite being dismissed last season when he led the team to 13 wins as a rookie head coach, O’Connell is now a strong contender for the NFL Coach of the Year award. The decision to award Brian Daboll, who led the New York Giants to nine wins, is now being questioned as the Vikings’ success continues to unfold.
In conclusion, the Minnesota Vikings’ unexpected surge in the NFC playoff race can be attributed to the exceptional coaching skills of Kevin O’Connell. Despite facing numerous challenges, O’Connell has guided the team to victory, proving that elite coaching can make all the difference in a team’s success. As the season progresses, O’Connell’s impact on the Vikings’ performance may solidify his claim to the NFL Coach of the Year award.Vikings Head Coach Kevin O’Connell Making a Case for Coach of the Year
Analytics are a valuable asset, but stats can’t account for everything. Like how an elite coach can affect everything.
The Minnesota Vikings were the biggest regression candidate we’ve ever seen. They were 13-4 last season but had the underlying stats of a team that should have been below .500. Basically, they won every close game, which isn’t sustainable.
But it also wasn’t complete dumb luck. We might be quickly finding out that Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell is worth a few points in each game.
When the Vikings lost Justin Jefferson, everyone thought they should trade Kirk Cousins. When the Vikings lost Cousins, they looked done. Instead, a team that has severe roster deficiencies is right in the NFC playoff race, with a quarterback who two weeks ago was traded by the Arizona Cardinals, one of the worst teams in the NFL.
Coach of the Year is a weird award sometimes, but why wouldn’t it be O’Connell?
Joshua Dobbs had a big game against the New Orleans Saints in a 27-19 win. In the first half Dobbs was 18-of-22 for 220 yards. That was without Jefferson, who should return soon from a hamstring injury, and K.J. Osborn, who was held out after suffering a concussion last week.
New Orleans rallied in the second half and made it interesting after Jameis Winston replaced an injured Derek Carr, but the Vikings did what they had to do to hold on.
The Saints have more star players on the roster. That’s almost indisputable. But the Vikings had the far better coach.
The Vikings are 6-4 and in good shape to get the final wild-card spot in the NFC. That’s astonishing given that the Vikings started 1-4 and lost their two most important players to injury.
Last week Dobbs had to go in the game only a few days after the Vikings shrewdly traded for him. O’Connell was explaining plays to Dobbs in his headset after he called them in the huddle. The Vikings pulled off a road win against the Atlanta Falcons. That’s a credit to Dobbs to process it all, but that’s also exactly what good coaching looks like. Having Dobbs run a full offense Sunday, less than two weeks after the Vikings traded for him, was impressive too.
O’Connell led the Vikings to 13 wins as a rookie head coach and it was mostly dismissed because everyone talked about how lucky they were. NFL Coach of the Year went to Brian Daboll and his nine wins with the New York Giants, and that decision is not aging well at all.
That might be OK. O’Connell could leave no doubt about that award this season.
Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Week 10 of the NFL season:
Anyone on the Dallas Cowboys: Games like the one the Cowboys had Sunday have to be fun. Everyone with a star on their helmet seemed to make a big play.
It’s easy against the New York Giants, who will look like a junior varsity team the final two months of the season. The Cowboys annihilated the Giants 49-17. Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito had less than 50 yards passing before a meaningless final drive, New York allowed Dak Prescott to account for five touchdowns and the team had a heated argument on the sideline involving receiver Darius Slayton, so it was pretty much a 2023 Giants hat trick. The Cowboys ended up with 640 yards, and allowed just 172.
It’s not like Dallas needed to break a sweat Sunday, and everyone could go back to the locker room feeling happy. The rest of the Giants’ opponents this season will have similar feelings.
Geno Smith and DK Metcalf: The Seattle Seahawks’ 29-26 win over the Washington Commanders wasn’t pretty, but it was a win. Mostly thanks to Smith and Metcalf at the end.
Smith hit Metcalf on two huge pass plays after the Commanders tied it in the final minute. He found Metcalf for 17, then again for 27 to set up Jason Myers’ field goal as time expired. Smith had 369 yards, and 98 went to Metcalf.
The Seahawks are 6-3. They barely won, but they’re not going to be too picky. They’re still tied for first place in the NFC West, though they’ll need to play better if they want a shot to beat the 49ers for the division.
C.J. Stroud’s MVP hopes: Seriously, why not Stroud for MVP?
Rookies don’t win NFL MVP, but Stroud is the best story in the league this season and he added another chapter to what’s becoming a historic rookie year. The Houston Texans rookie took a team with multiple players out due to injury, including running back Dameon Pierce and receiver Nico Collins, and upset the Cincinnati Bengals 30-27 on the road.
Stroud threw a bad interception in the fourth quarter that helped the Bengals erase a 10-point deficit and tie the game, but in the final 1:33 Stroud led a drive that ended with a field goal on the final play for the win. It was impressive to see him bounce back from a rare mistake.
It was one of the few big mistakes he has made all season, throwing an interception in the final four minutes that set up the Bengals at the four-yard line. Cincinnati scored off that to cut Houston’s lead to 27-24. The Bengals had a shot to take the lead after that but Tyler Boyd dropped a pass in the end zone and the Bengals had to settle for a game-tying field goal. That opened the door for Stroud to put together a game-winning drive.
Stroud is having a special rookie season. He threw for 356 yards Sunday and led an upset over a hot Bengals team. So, again, why not Stroud for MVP?
Brock Purdy: It was understandable that there were concerns about Purdy after the San Francisco 49ers’ three-game losing streak. He made some horrible decisions in those losses.
The bye week came at the right time, and everyone can calm down about Purdy for a bit.
The 49ers had an impressive 34-3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. Purdy was very good, with touchdown passes to Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle. The pass to Kittle, thrown under pressure from the pocket for a 66-yard score, turned the game into a rout. Purdy added another touchdown pass in the second half, and finished with 296 yards.
The 49ers again looked like one of the best teams in football. They, and their quarterback, are back on track.
Mike Evans: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could have traded Evans before the deadline. But it would be cool if he spent an entire Hall of Fame career with the Bucs.
Evans has been one of the best receivers of this generation, and he’s having another fine season even after Tom Brady’s retirement. Evans was the key player in the Buccaneers’ 20-6 win over the Tennessee Titans. The Buccaneers are 4-5 and far from out of the race in a putrid NFC South. Evans had six catches for 143 yards and a touchdown in a vintage performance. He was the best player on the field.
Evans is on his way to another 1,000-yard season, which would be his 10th in 10 NFL seasons. Many wondered if he could do that again at age 30 with Baker Mayfield throwing him the ball this season. On Sunday he looked as dominant as ever.
Arthur Smith and the Atlanta Falcons: Given the Falcons’ soft schedule, it’s going to look really bad for Smith when Atlanta posts a sub-.500 record.
The Falcons need wins and they couldn’t beat an Arizona Cardinals team that was 1-8 coming into Sunday’s game. Kyler Murray was back for the Cardinals and injected some much-needed life into the franchise, but the Falcons still can’t lose that game if they want to be a playoff team. Murray led a late drive and Matt Prater hit a game-winning field goal as time expired for a 25-23 win.
The Falcons fell to 4-6. They’ll have another week of quarterback controversy after Taylor Heinicke was knocked out of the game with an injury and Desmond Ridder made some plays to help Atlanta grab a late lead.
The Falcons’ season is quickly slipping away, and it’s not like anyone should trust Smith to fix it.