Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell: ‘There is no Wizard of Oz behind a curtain someplace’ – Minnesota Vikings Weblog

EAGAN, MINN. — As he finalized his first offseason program because the Minnesota Vikings‘ head coach, Kevin O'Connell took a seemingly innocuous step. He determined towards planning a 3rd day of minicamp, as an alternative informing gamers that on-field work would finish a day early in mid-June.

Imagine it or not, this little bit of scheduling was notable and provided an early glimpse into how a rookie head coach will function behind the scenes along with his first coaching camp observe looming this week. O'Connell rejected the late-spring charade that usually performs out across the NFL, whereby coaches schedule a full minicamp after which cancel the ultimate day as a “reward,” a transfer designed to generate constructive vibes as gamers head into their summer season break.

Thoughts video games are part of teaching in any respect ranges, and through an interview this summer season, O'Connell stated they usually obtain the specified outcome. However early indicators counsel O'Connell prefers to keep away from them.

“I simply really feel prefer it's a part of empowering our group,” O'Connell stated. “From the primary day I set foot on this constructing, I talked about participant possession. They cannot personal one thing that they don't seem to be utterly in understanding of. I simply really feel such as you talk intentions of what we're attempting to get finished. You could have a clear-cut plan. You give these guys the why behind all the pieces we do, after which it is outstanding how simple it's to attach with them and coach them onerous from there, as a result of they perceive it.

“There is no Wizard of Oz behind a curtain someplace. It is, ‘Here is the plan for the week. We've got to get this, this and this finished. Here is how we will do it.' And you then've acquired to have the ability to have the powerful conversations when you do not. You say, ‘We did not do the issues that we wanted to do, so this is the reason we have now to change and alter.' It is not due to some previous trick or some philosophy factor. It is simply, ‘We're attempting to get finished some issues that must get finished.'”

O'Connell has been within the public eye for greater than a decade, as an NFL participant for 4 seasons after which an assistant coach for seven extra. He was the Los Angeles Rams‘ offensive coordinator the previous two seasons. However comparatively little was identified about his character, strategy and management values when the Vikings employed him in January at age 36. A lot is left to be discovered, however through the first few months of his tenure, he has positioned himself in two key methods: (1) as a straight shooter who emphasizes direct communication and (2) as a coach with an inherent understanding that gamers respect makes an attempt to attenuate put on and tear on their our bodies.

To that finish, O'Connell's offseason program and practices prioritized harm prevention and psychological reps over bodily exertion. He restricted most 11-on-11 drills to a “jog-through” tempo, and in 2-minute drills, solely the talent gamers went full velocity. Even the scope was notable, as O'Connell resisted the urge many first-year coaches really feel to make use of each minute out there to him beneath the NFL's collective bargaining settlement.

The CBA, for instance, offers new coaches an additional two weeks on the entrance of the offseason program, however O'Connell used solely one in every of them. His tentative coaching camp schedule options 11 full-pads practices; the NFL most is 16.

O'Connell stated a lot of his observe planning is predicated on sports activities science — he employed Tyler Williams as govt director of participant well being to overtake the group's medical workers — and gamers stated the distinction was clear this spring. Veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson stated he had by no means felt higher on the finish of an offseason program.

“Little question about it,” Peterson stated. “My physique feels nice. Guys ask me on a regular basis, ‘Does it really feel like I am a 12 months 12?' No, it actually would not. I do not know if it has been this offseason, the best way Coach has been taking care, or simply the sports activities science on the whole. … [But] you'll be able to see [the team is] actually taking the required steps to creating certain that guys are on the sphere on Sundays once we want them.”

Whether or not subconsciously or by design, NFL groups usually rent coaches whose approaches differ starkly from their predecessors. Former coach Mike Zimmer was identified for standard, bodily practices. By the tip of his tenure, the tradition of the group was “fear-based,” linebacker Eric Kendricks stated in January. Suffice it to say, O'Connell's strategy seems far friendlier — each on and off the sphere — and can ask gamers to take their share of the accountability.

“It is on us now as properly,” Kendricks stated. “It may't simply be on them. It may't simply be on who we appoint the pinnacle man. It must be on the gamers as properly, like myself, who've put these years and time into this league. If I need change, I've acquired to be that change myself.”

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