EAGAN, Minn. — One week after being introduced as the 10th head coach in Vikings history, Kevin O'Connell met with reporters again Thursday to introduce Minnesota's new defensive (Ed Donatell), offensive (Wes Phillips) and special teams (Matt Daniels) coordinators to Twin Cities media members.
O'Connell has had a busy week, as the Vikings have announced the hiring of 14 assistant coaches. The staff is preparing for next week's 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.
The first-time head coach said his assistants are "a lot of really, really good people. Folks that share a lot of the same beliefs that have meant a lot to me throughout not only the process leading up to becoming the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, but now knowing what it's going to look like to implement this plan and this vision and connect with our players."
"The three guys I'm going to introduce to you guys today, they share all of those characteristics that I hope to have for our players and myself," O'Connell added.
Here are 11 top quotes (in no particular order) from Thursday's session that provide an introduction to the new Vikings coordinators.
O'Connell on hiring Donatell:
"It was a no brainer to me to reach out to Ed at the beginning of this process, and just throughout getting to know him and getting a feel for where he's at in his career, he's the perfect guy for me because he shares the mantra of wanting to lead, teach and motivate. That's who he is. He's an ultimate positive guy that knows how he wants to play defense and knows how to incorporate the coaching staff he's going to have working with him."
Donatell, who is entering his 32nd NFL season, on his interest in joining the 36-year-old O'Connell's staff:
"A lot of people say, 'How did this start, this relationship where I was attracted to this organization?' In early talks with Kevin and also with [General Manager] Kwesi [Adofo-Mensah], it was really easy for me to feel how connected they were and how aligned they were. This was a vision of growth, of collaboration, of growing new people, growing leaders. And I wanted to be part of that. And I see myself as a team-builder, and to jump on with somebody who's young and progressive and on the top, cutting-edge of things, was really attractive to me."
Donatell on the work ahead of the defense as it incorporates multiple fronts (the expected addition of 3-4 concepts to the 4-3 that has been utilized as Minnesota's base defense for years):
"We've got a lot of work to do, but nobody's going to have more fun doing it. We're going to have a good time. We're hiring a staff of teachers, positive teachers. These [are] also guys that will grow young men, not just teach the scheme. It's going to be a positive nature. We're going to have a great time, and these relationships are going to be very important to our success."
View photos of new Vikings Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell in photos from his time with the Broncos.
Donatell on the importance of building culture and chemistry:
"We want a cultural advantage. We want a culture where a guy puts on a Vikings uniform and just plays better than where he came from. We want a culture where guys want to come here. We pride in culture, but culture means everything. Everybody says that, 'This guy's over here. He plays this technique, this position. Do your job.' It's not just that. It's the environment and the community.
O'Connell on hiring Phillips, whom he previously worked with in Washington (2017-18) and Los Angeles (2020-21):
"I've seen him develop and take good players and make them great and take young players and turn them into really high-quality-starting-caliber players when not a lot of people in the building may have thought that was possible. What does that tell me? He can develop. He can teach. He can lead. He can obviously motivate."
Phillips on the shift in approach by coaches:
"There was a time when you could probably walk up and kick a player in the butt, and that was accepted. I'm glad we've changed in some of those aspects. There was coaching from fear in a lot of ways, but really, even my family, my grandfather [O.A. "Bum" Phillips], was like, 'I'd rather have a guy who wants to do it than who was scared and scared of me and try to make him do it.' "
Phillips on the non Xs and Os aspects of coaching:
"I like to say sometimes, 'We all should have been psychology majors,' because it really is dealing with people, dealing with personalities. There's a lot of alpha-type personalities. There's some egos, and those aren't bad things. Those guys are extremely competitive people. That's why they're here, and that's why they got here. Trying to get them to understand that, 'Hey, this is a common goal, a common vision.' We all want personal success, but within the concept of what's best for the team. If we can all sometimes swallow our pride, just a little bit, and understand that, 'Hey, I've got to do this for him, and he's going to do this for me,' ultimately, we'll be better off."
View photos of new Vikings Offensive Coordinator Wes Phillips in photos from his time in the league.
Phillips on how the 2021 Rams continuously came through in the clutch:
"We had a lot of guys – [Rams Head Coach] Sean [McVay] would talk about competitive greatness, and what he likes to say is, 'Being your best when your best is required.' We had a lot of guys that really showed that. Something else that really showed up going on a Super Bowl run was how you really have to develop your entire roster. From whatever it was, there were so many positions in a violent, physical sport where guys go down. So many guys throughout that season stepped up, were ready when their number was called and performed at a high level. It was critical for us to get to where we got."
O'Connell on hiring Daniels:
"When I close my eyes and I think about special teams, I think about a group with energy, enthusiasm, detail. Guys that can follow the lead of our coordinator to go out and execute plans each and every week. … I really knew very quickly that Matt Daniels was a guy that I wanted to hire as our special teams coordinator."
Daniels on how his time as a player shaped his love for special teams:
"For me, being an undrafted guy coming into this league out of Duke University, special teams was the only way I saw myself being able to make the team. I like to consider myself a special teams demon. That's kind of what I was. I took it to heart. I took a lot of pride in it. I played with a lot of passion. That's what you'll see pour into my players. I'm very personable and very relatable. Guys can lean on me because I've done it before and been in their shoes. I know what it looks like. I know what it takes."
View photos of new Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Matt Daniels in photos from his time with the Cowboys.
Daniels on his approach to coaching kickers:
"The mental toughness of the kicking game is obviously the biggest thing on a kicker, because obviously it's lonely as hell out there, if we're just being honest. So you look at the mental toughness, mental capacity that's able to handle the pressure, those are the types of questions that we like to have. You really don't want to give too many thoughts to your kicker or have him thinking too much, so we kind of always try to allow him to have a quieted mind, a stillness."