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'New Era, New Energy': Vikings Players React To New HC Kevin O'Connell

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The Minnesota Vikings officially announced Kevin O'Connell as the franchise's 10th head coach Wednesday.

The 36-year-old is fresh off a Super Bowl victory as offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams. Vikings players are already excited to get to work with their new coach.

"I'm excited about Kevin coming on board. Kevin will be the one driving our culture and the voice day in and day out," quarterback Kirk Cousins said. "I'm really excited about what he brings. He's a great football mind, he has been around great football minds, been a player in this league and knows what it takes. I am excited to learn from him and grow as a player and have our team take another step forward."

O'Connell actually served as Cousins' QB coach in 2017 when the two were in Washington together. The offense was middle-of-the-road that year, quite literally, ranking 16th in both points and yards. Cousins threw for 4,093 yards, 27 touchdowns and five interceptions under O'Connell's tutelage.

The standout player on the Rams' Super Bowl-winning offense was wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who was named MVP of the championship game and Offensive Player of the Year. Kupp tallied a massive 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns on 145 catches during the regular season, and added another 478 yards and six touchdowns during the playoffs. The Vikings have a young, star receiver of their own, and he's hoping O'Connell will bring some of that passing panache with him.

"I've been watching the Rams offense for a minute now. They get their playmakers the ball. They have tremendous plays," Jefferson said. "Cooper Kupp is open all the time, so I'm excited for it. This is my first head coach that will be on the offensive side instead of defensive side, so I'm happy."

The Rams' running game sputtered in the Super Bowl, and their season-long stats ranked near the bottom of the league, but Dalvin Cook is still fired up about the new hire.

"He was with Kirk Cousins in Washington, so Kirk has been telling me that he's a great guy to be around and is full of energy," Cook said. "I'm just looking forward to it. It's a new opportunity, a new era, new energy, you just got to take advantage of it."

Sean McVay, O'Connell's former boss and head coach of the Rams, said before his new gig was announced that O'Connell would "be a great coach."

"I think one of the most important things as a coach is, do the players know that you care about them and can you make them a better football player? Kevin checks both of those boxes," McVay said. "He's been vital to our success as a team and offensively, and I really lean heavily on him."

O'Connell and the Rams will celebrate their Super Bowl victory with a parade in Los Angeles Wednesday. The new coach will get his first look at his team on the field when voluntary offseason workouts begin April 4.

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