EAGAN, Minn. – Kevin O'Connell was worth the wait.
Minnesota announced Wednesday that the team has hired O'Connell as its next head coach.
O'Connell, who spent the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams, is the 10th head coach in franchise history.
"We are ecstatic to add Kevin as our head coach," said Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf. "He is a strong leader, an innovative coach and an excellent communicator. Kevin played the game at all levels, which gives him a unique connection to players, and he is highly respected throughout the league. Vikings fans should be excited for the future of this team under Kevin's direction."
"Kevin is an impressive and respected leader who has been a part of some explosive offensive schemes," said Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf. "He has a tremendous football IQ and is passionate about preparing, developing and communicating with his players. Beyond the Xs and Os, everyone we spoke with throughout this search process spoke highly of Kevin's ability to motivate players, coaches and staff."
View photos of new Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell in photos from his time with the Rams.
O'Connell initially interviewed virtually with Minnesota on Jan. 21, and was later interviewed in-person on Jan. 31. The second interview took place in Los Angeles a day after the Rams advanced to Super Bowl LVI.
Due to NFL rules, the Vikings could not announce O'Connell as their next head coach until after the Super Bowl. O'Connell comes to Minnesota with a Super Bowl on his résumé, as he helped Los Angeles' offense put together a game-winning drive in the final minutes of Super Bowl LVI.
"I greatly appreciate the Wilf family, Kwesi and the entire Minnesota Vikings organization for providing the opportunity to be their next head coach," O'Connell said. "This is a franchise with a deep history and a tremendous fan base.
"Having been on the visitors' sideline at U.S. Bank Stadium and experiencing that environment as an opposing coach, I am excited to now have the support of these passionate Vikings fans," O'Connell added. "I am committed to working tirelessly to bring them a Super Bowl championship."
O'Connell has a connection with new Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, as the pair worked together in San Francisco in 2016.
Adofo-Mensah was the 49ers Manager of Football Research and Development that season while O'Connell worked on special projects as a member of the coaching staff.
"As I spent time with Kevin during the interview process, it became immediately clear he will be a great partner in building this football team for long-term success," Adofo-Mensah said. "He understands what is critical to leading a team that wins at the highest level and he has an ability to simplify the complex, which will help us in problem-solving in all football areas. He is a genuinely positive person who will help create a high-energy internal environment."
While the 36-year-old O'Connell didn't call the Rams offensive plays for the past two seasons, he did have a large hand in helping Los Angeles become one of the league's most explosive offenses.
O'Connell helped quarterback Matthew Stafford have one of the best seasons of his career in 2021, as Los Angeles went 12-5 and finished in the top 10 in both points (27.1) and yards (372.1) per game.
"I think the first thing with Kevin, Kevin is truly the offensive coordinator," said Rams Head Coach Sean McVay. "He does a great job working in coordination with the rest of the offensive coaches to put together the game plans, to lead a lot of the different meetings. He also is heavily responsible for running a lot of the quarterback meetings, where he's heavily involved with Matthew, with John Wolford, with Bryce Perkins and Zac Robinson.
"But everything that is encompassing of leading our offense, helping to put together the game plans and really how we operate on game day. He's done a great job. Why I think he'll be a great coach is he's a great leader. I think he's got great capacity and command for this game," McVay added. "He's got a great ability to relate to the players and be able to connect with them. I think one of the most important things as a coach, is do the players know that you care about them and can you make them a better football player? Kevin checks both of those boxes. He's got a great way about himself with people. He's got phenomenal character. I can't say enough good things about him and how fortunate I've been to have gotten to know him the way that I have over these last couple of years. He's been vital to our success as a team and offensively, and I really lean heavily on him."
O'Connell began his NFL coaching career in Cleveland in 2015 as the Browns quarterbacks coach. He then spent the 2016 season in San Francisco before going to Washington in 2017.
He was Washington's quarterbacks coach in 2017, which was Kirk Cousins' final season there before he signed with the Vikings as a free agent in the spring of 2018. Cousins threw for 4,091 yards with 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his lone season with O'Connell.
After serving as Washington's quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator in 2018, O'Connell was promoted to offensive coordinator for the 2019 season before heading to the West Coast.
McVay, who had been Washington's offensive coordinator from 2014-16, headed to Los Angeles in 2017.
Prior to his coaching career, O'Connell spent five seasons in the NFL as a quarterback for five different teams.
He was a third-round pick by New England in 2008, appearing in two games and completing four of six passes for 23 yards as a rookie.
Although O'Connell never played in another regular-season game, he spent the next four seasons as a backup with the Lions, Jets, Dolphins and Chargers.
O'Connell graduated from San Diego State in December 2007 with a degree in political science.
A four-time team captain for the Aztecs, O'Connell appeared in 39 career collegiate games, throwing for 7,689 yards with 46 touchdowns and 34 interceptions.
O'Connell was also a dual-threat quarterback, rushing for 19 touchdowns at SDSU, including 11 as a senior in 2007.
O'Connell was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, but he attended high school (La Costa Canyon) in Carlsbad, California.
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