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O'Connell Acknowledges Frustration & Encourages Fortitude After 0-3 Start 

EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings have an arduous road ahead of them.

No one is denying that after an 0-3 start to the season in which self-inflicted wounds and missed opportunities have led to a trio of narrow losses.

But arduous doesn't equal impossible.

Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell spoke to media members Monday following Minnesota's 28-24 loss to the Chargers, and he didn't mince words:

"Very, very frustrated, and our team is experiencing a significant test right now trying to have the mental toughness to overcome some very, very difficult results over the last few weeks."

There's no sugarcoating the current situation, but there also are 14 regular-season games remaining to be played.

"I think we have the right people in this building. I think we have the right guys in that locker room," O'Connell said, gesturing from the podium at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center. "I am very, very confident that we will push forward through this test collectively, individually, and really the best version of this team is still out in front of us.

"My job is to try and get us to that point. And that is pushing everybody in the building to embrace this as the challenge that it is, and ultimately attack it," added O'Connell.

He noted that the team would review Sunday's game film in a later-afternoon meeting.

"What I am asking for is a personal and collective responsibility from every single [player], and coach, to look inward … where are those little things we can do better, where are the big things we can do better?" O'Connell said. "Come Wednesday, my expectation is we'll have as much urgency and positive energy going into having our best week of preparation yet, and my belief is the result will come with that."

He acknowledged "a lot of noise" from media outlets, fans and the like about the trajectory of a winless team heading into Week 4.

Ultimately, it's up to the team to block out any outside expectations, or lack thereof, and focus only on righting the ship.

O'Connell has pointed to experience with the 2021 Rams, who lost three straight games midseason but went on to finish 12-5 in the regular season and eventually win Super Bowl LVI. While the scenarios are different (the Rams were 7-1 before the losing streak), it does illustrate that three games' results are not the end all, be all.

O'Connell was asked during his press conference what stands out about the Rams team that got itself back on track, and he emphasized the togetherness of the locker room and coaching staff in the face of adversity.

"There's gonna be a lot of doubt. There's gonna be a lot of noise. And rightly so. I think we share, I share, the frustration of our fans. We have high expectations for ourselves as a football team, as did that [Rams] team," O'Connell said. "And what we've got to do is … as tough as it is right now, we've got to lean in even more. We've got to do a little bit more; every coach, every player, collectively and individually, has just got to do a little bit more.

"Those small incremental gains will mean something, when that result does finally come. And I think the process at which you go through that and work through that can be an incredible growth opportunity for this team and our organization. And like I said, I think we've got the guys to do it. My expectation is we will, but me standing up here talking about it certainly is not going to do a whole heck of a lot about that. And our players talking about it," he continued. "[We have to] push forward and do it with a purpose and a mentality that we're going to fix some of the issues that have contributed to us losing these games, and find a way to continue doing some of the things we're doing well … I think we're gonna find the results are out there for us as a team."

Media members spoke to former Rams running back Cam Akers, whom the Vikings acquired Wednesday via trade, about being a part of the 2021 locker room in L.A. Akers returned in time for the regular-season finale and playoff run.

"I was dealing with an Achilles injury that year, so I missed the first few games, but I was still around … the team, and everybody was still connected," Akers said. "Through the ups and downs, good plays, [bad plays], everybody was still connected. We knew our goal at the end of the year was to win a championship, so that was everybody's mindset – and everybody stayed together like glue. Hopefully we can pull that together here."