Vikings morale is higher than ever under new regime

(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O'Connell
(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O'Connell /

The new regime for the Minnesota Vikings has the team taking a different approach as they prepare for the 2022 regular season.

As snow continues to fall in Minnesota, locals and players alike await the change of seasons from Winter to Spring. Snow in April is nothing new in Minnesota, and continuity seems to be the norm as the Minnesota Vikings have taken the field for offseason workouts.

As management has retained basically the entirety of the 2021 roster before this year’s NFL Draft, Vikings fans can expect to continue to see familiar faces in purple next season.

However, The hiring of Kevin O’Connell as head coach and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as general manager took the team in a new direction for the first time in nearly a decade.

New direction has Minnesota Vikings players excited for 2022 season

Recent comments from players suggest that the optimism relentlessly displayed by Vikings fans around this time of year has made its way to the team.

Recent chatter by the players, such as safety Cam Bynum’s comments about wanting to be the greatest NFL player of all time suggests that the general excitement is being radiated throughout the locker room.

One of the major reasons for excitement as both a Vikings fan and player this upcoming season is the playbook the offense will pick up that helped the Los Angeles Rams win the Super Bowl this past season.

Minnesota star receiver Justin Jefferson recently shared his thoughts on the new vibe in the building.

"“Just for [O’Connell] to come in and be a laid-back coach ready to change the whole program and get us back on that winning stage. We’re all excited. We’ve seen so many new faces in here, so many new coaches.”"

Adam Thielen shared the same excitement for the coaching staff Kwesi and co. have put together.

"“When you add in the coaching staff and the pieces they’ve put in place around the coaches and the players, it’s a really exciting time.”"

With O’Connell now leading the way, it marks the first team that Jefferson or Thielen will have a head coach who comes from an offensive background. The offensive changes so far in this early portion of the offseason have the star duo looking forward to bringing the playbook to life on the field.

Here’s what Thielen had to say about that.

"“There’s a lot of different formations, moving guys around, putting guys in different spots. I think some of the route stuff is more player-friendly probably, just to be able to kind of just go out there and feel the game, play the game. There’s a lot more feel to it, rather than, ‘You gotta do this at this point, at this time.”"

Being more player-friendly will be not only a characterization of the offense in 2022, but it will be how the Vikings will operate as an entire organization.

Perhaps this is part of the reason for Bynum coming into offseason workouts with a chip on his shoulder. After a productive rookie year that saw him fill in quite nicely for the injured Harrison Smith as a defensive chess piece for the Vikings, Bynum has his sights set sky-high for 2022 and beyond.

During a recent press conference, Bynum declared that he wants to surpass Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady as the greatest NFL player of all time.

"“I’m trying to be the best ever. That’s the biggest thing I do. That’s why I play the game. That’s why I put in the extra time. I’m not just trying to be here and make money, I’m trying to be the best football player regardless in history.”"

Being the greatest player of all time would make the former fourth-round pick quite a steal for the Vikings. For the time being, this energy and excitement is a great element in the locker room; something that was lacking from the team towards the end of Mike Zimmer’s reign in Minnesota.

Overall morale is something that the Vikings have struggled with during the past several seasons. Drives have stalled and players walk off the field, the sidelines have seemed desolate with passion, and the team looked dead at times under Zimmer.

Minnesota still hasn’t had a formal practice under O’Connell this offseason (recent OTAs were just strength and conditioning drills), yet 2021 first-round pick Christian Darrisaw already feels a difference in team morale.

“[There are] great vibes around the building.” Darrisaw recently stated when talking about the new coaching staff and team direction.

The Vikings also have a great comeback story to rally around this year. Defensive tackle Jalen Twyman has been present at workouts despite missing all of last season after being shot four times while visiting family before the start of the 2021 campaign.

Photos from Minnesota’s recent workouts have shown Twyman present at the team’s facilities. In college, Twyman became the first defensive tackle at Pittsburgh to lead the team in sacks since Aaron Donald did so in 2013. That’s a good company to be part of.

While Vikings fans anxiously await training camp, the preseason, and the kickoff of the 2022 regular season, the team is hard at work. Excitement and team morale are higher than they’ve been in years, leading everyone wearing purple to have new reasons for optimism before the 2022 campaign starts.

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