The Minnesota Vikings are entering the 2022 season under new management. New head coach Kevin O’Connell and General Manager Kwesi Adofo Mensah have taken the reins and are looking to steer the team into a brighter future. The players appear to have adjusted well to this new culture and system being introduced. So, how did we get here in the first place? Well, let’s take a look.
The Need For Change
The Vikings fired head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman this offseason. The need for it was necessary. The team had underperformed over the past few seasons. Mike Zimmer had been in Minnesota for eight years, while Spielman had been with the Vikings for 16 years (ten as GM). After going 10-6 in 2019, the Vikings missed the playoffs for back-to-back years going 7-9 and 8-9. The defense and offense both continued to struggle. Zimmer got too conservative on offense, which led to more pressure on the defense. The Vikings two-minute defense was horrific last year. They gave up 221 points inside the final two minutes of each half. After struggling for two seasons, enough was enough. Zimmer and Spielman were fired and now a new age has begun in Minnesota.
What Players Are Saying
These changes in Minnesota were needed. Veteran wide receiver Adam Thielen said, “I feel fresh, I feel energetic, I think the culture that’s been created here is just a breath of fresh air.” It just makes it exciting to be here and work”. This shows just how much the Vikings needed a change in leadership. While Zimmer was a good coach and did some great things in Minnesota, his time had come. Like Thielen said, the team needed a breath of fresh air.
Players On The New Offense
The Vikings will see a new offense that differs from the one under Zimmer. Offensive minded head coach Kevin O’Connell has come in and the team is buying into the new scheme. Justin Jefferson has said, “We had an old-style offense last year. It’s 2022. You get into a new age and move to a new generation. Adding new things to the offense definitely allows us to be more comfortable with the offense and work in different areas of the field.” It’s a great sign to see that this is going to be something very different from last season. The Vikings were very conservative under Mike Zimmer, so having an offense that will open it up will be great for players like Jefferson to really have a chance at reaching their true potential.
It’s usually hard learning a new system, but it appears the players haven’t had a tough time doing so. Thielen has come out saying, “This system makes sense. Everything we’re doing makes sense. Everything looks alike, acts alike, feels alike. The terminology makes sense. It’s a lot, though. There’s a ton. The formations alone, there’s so many different ways they can line us up and so many different words, lots of code words, things like that, where they say one thing and everybody’s gotta know what to do.” The complexity of the offense is a good sign that O’Connell knows what he’s doing and is bringing in necessary change. Even Jefferson has been happy with this saying that the offense will be “very less predictable” this season.
Kevin O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah seem to have the players buying into the new culture and system. The way the Vikings were when Zimmer left made the change that much more compelling to the rest of the team. That breath of fresh air that the team so desperately needed, they got in O’Connell and Adofo-Mensah. While we won’t know for certain how the team will look and play under this new culture and system, we don’t have to wait much longer. Hopefully when week one comes, we’ll see what the players are saying and see the new and improved Minnesota Vikings.
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