Kevin O’Connell is the offensive mind Minnesota needed

Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell is expected to be the front-runner for NFL Coach of the Year after announcing an incredible game on Sunday.

I’m a huge football fan and love doing Minnesota Vikings movie reviews.

I loved watching movies when I was playing in high school and even more when I had the chance to be exposed to deeper aspects of the game when I was playing in college.

I like it as much as being a fan today. It’s such a beautiful sport, and the amount of work that goes into a football match from the coaches, players and everyone involved makes winning a football match one of the most rewarding experiences an athlete can live.

Of all the movies I’ve watched over the years, I’ve never enjoyed rewatching a game more than watching the Vikings beat the Buffalo Bills in the Week 10 game of the year. It was a pure heavyweight fight.

The best analogy I can find watching this game would be in “Rocky II” when Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed go head-to-head for 12 rounds, knock each other off with time ending in the last round, and the movie starts moving forward in slow motion.

Two titans battled it out for four and a half quarters on a snowy day in Western New York, it was a masterpiece. All the highlights and chaos aside, there was one aspect of this game that stood out to me the most when I rewatched the game.

Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell expected to be frontrunner for NFL Coach of the Year

The young, attacking-minded head coach called it an incredible game on Sunday. For his first year as head coach, he has withstood moments of immense pressure and, just as he preaches, is at his best when his best is required.

O’Connell has been a steady hand in each of the Vikings’ comeback wins this season and has completely changed the atmosphere in the team’s locker room. The impact of his leadership was felt throughout the organization, both on and off the field.

O’Connell has come up with incredible game plans and opening scenarios for Minnesota this year, which has scored a game-opening touchdown in six of its nine games this season. One philosophy that O’Connell repeats from successful Vikings offenses in the past is the 50-50 ball quantity the offense takes.

It helps to have a demigod like Justin Jefferson at receiver, but Minnesota fans are used to having a top-tier receiver duo in the NFL. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen made secondaries look ridiculous during the latter half of the 2010s. 2022 looks a lot like that magical 2017 season, where the offense continually relied on their perimeter advantage to make plays.

In 2017, Diggs and Thielen were ranked first and sixth in the NFL in disputed catch rate. Offense with Case Keenum allowed them to go get balls and be the point guards the team needed them to be – the guys who “have to have it”. As we saw on Sunday, O’Connell is all about letting the big dog eat and trusting his players to make plays when they need to be made.

Obviously, we all saw the greatest catch ever on fourth-and-18 when the Vikings badly needed a play to make. They went to Justin Jefferson time and again in critical time, with Jefferson having five receptions for 89 yards on Minnesota’s final two drives of the game.

Throughout the game there were complex game designs that I thought O’Connell did a great job of putting together. One of the first that caught my attention was on a key third down in the second quarter. It looked like earlier in the game the Vikings attempted several side passes, such as swings and bubble screens, a strategy to combat a very physical pass rush from the Bills.

On the first down from Buffalo’s 22-yard line, Kirk Cousins’ pass was blocked by AJ Epenesa on a swing attempt to KJ Osborn. Two plays later, the Vikings bluffed a tunnel screen to Thielen on third down. The Vikings lined up in a 3X1 “travel” formation on the field, with Thielen, Osborn and Hockenson all separated on the left.

With the Bills in the media coverage, the screen was doomed if Osborn was unable to block the corner. However, Osborn faked the block in the corner, which opened it up for a 20-yard gain. Unfortunately, the Vikings had to settle for a basket even though they had the first and the goal from the two-yard line (hey, it all went well, didn’t it?).

Another big wrinkle from O’Connell was during the Vikings’ first drive to start the second half, which ultimately ended with a stunning Cousins ​​interception. Part of the buzz surrounding O’Connell’s preseason at Minnesota was the commitment to involve Dalvin Cook more in the passing game. We saw a great example of what that can look like against Buffalo.

Minnesota Vikings

On 3rd and 5th from the Minnesota 49-yard line, O’Connell dialed in a nice mesh concept for Cook, who was lined up in the slot in an empty formation.

The Bills played press-man coverage again, and the Vikings meshed Cook with Thielen and Hockenson, forcing covering linebacker Cook to go over the mesh, leaving him wide open. The game was a great response for man coverage and set up the Vikings with a big first down in Bills territory.

Minnesota Vikings

O’Connell’s best play call of the day was CJ Ham’s touchdown on second and the Bills’ three-yard line goal. The score capped a monstrous 14-game drive that started the fourth quarter and cut Buffalo’s lead to just four points due to an extra run missed by kicker Greg Joseph.

Two reasons I like this game are its design and the fact that O’Connell gave the ball to one of his captains on the goal line. The misdirection on second down was such a good move considering Cook had just snatched an 81-yard touchdown run in the Vikings’ previous drive.

It seems like Minnesota has an endless supply of red zone threats with Jefferson, Thielen, Hockenson and Cook, but CJ Ham is a player the Vikings have relied on in previous seasons as well.

With the new attacking system and heavy use of 11, Ham has seen his role diminish in attack, but he remains a reliable full-back in many blocking situations and as a runner in short-range situations. .

Minnesota Vikings

To set the score, the Vikings threw Thielen in a throwing motion and made it look like he was going to be the main blocker for a limit throw to Cook. The jet move is a great design for casting as it allows Thielen to get a vapor head as a lead blocker. It’s also a great design for the counter run to Ham, as it takes the eyes of the linebackers away from Ham and creates a flow away from the play.

Because the Bills were on men’s coverage, Thielen’s man ran with him, and linebackers were heavily influenced by movement and throwing action, which opened a wide-open hole for Ham.

It was by no means a perfect game for the Vikings, but it was a game we will all remember for years to come. Winning in the NFL is incredibly difficult, so no win should ever be overlooked. This Vikings team is having fun and getting more and more exciting to watch every week.

Minnesota is 8-1 now, and they haven’t played their best football yet. A game against the Cowboys at home awaits next week.

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