5 things Kevin O’Connell needs to improve in his second season with the Vikings

(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) Kevin O'Connell
(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) Kevin O'Connell /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Dalvin Cook /

Developing a consistent and effective ground game

The Vikings’ offense used to be synonymous with running the football. When Mike Zimmer was the head coach, Dalvin Cook was the focal point, and the passing game worked off of play action that was set up by running the ball. Under Kevin O’Connell, the running game didn’t disappear, but it was much less effective.

Minnesota rushed for about 300 fewer yards in 2022 than they did in 2021. A reason for this was that O’Connell just loves to throw the football. He comes from a pass-heavy attack, so this wasn’t surprising, but sometimes a team needs to pound the ball to wear the other team down and take some time off the clock.

Even when the run was working, O’Connell never stuck with it. Cook only carried the ball more than 20 times once this season. He only topped 100 yards rushing twice. Compare that to a season ago when Cook had six games where he went for over 20 carries and four games where he ran for over 100.

Running the ball isn’t glamorous, but a good offense mixes things up from week to week. If the ground game is humming, O’Connell needs to realize it is wise to stick with it, even if it isn’t as sexy as throwing the football.