Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell Says All the Right Things After Loss to Eagles

Kevin O'Connell

Getty Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell during the team's 2023 season opener.

Kevin O’Connell said all the right things in his postgame press conference following the Vikings‘ 34-28 loss to the Eagles Thursday night.

“Seven-to-one in turnovers lost in two games and we have lost by a combined nine points versus two playoff teams from a year ago,” O’Connell said, referring to his team’s 0-2 start to the season. “Clearly, I have to coach it better from a standpoint of something that we talk about every single day. Ball security is a major, major focus in our football philosophy, but clearly I need to do a better job and our staff.”

O’Connell went on to list all of the thorough ball security drills his team does in practice. It’s the right answer but don’t be fooled.

Fumbles were a problem on Thursday, but they weren’t the problem that will plague this team going forward.

Eagles Outmuscled the Vikings

Kirk Cousins

GettyThe Eagles offensive and defensive lines overpowered the Vikings.

After fumbling the ball three times in the first half, Minnesota was fortunate enough to be down by just a touchdown against a Philadelphia team that did not capitalize.

That changed in the second half.

After Brian Flores’ defense threw a litany of looks at Jalen Hurts, the answer was simple in the second half: run the ball.

The Eagles dominated the Vikings in the trenches, gaining 259 yards rushing on Thursday night; the most since the Saints spoiled Christmas in 2020, beating Minnesota 52-33 to the tune of six touchdowns from Alvin Kamara.

It was a game that broke Mike Zimmer, who confessed “this is a bad defense” afterward. There was a similar tone in the locker room on Thursday as the Vikings lost back-to-back games for the first time in the O’Connell era.

Meanwhile, the offensive line laid in carnage as the Eagles rushed Kirk Cousins at will. The running game was virtually non-existent with only nine rushes going for 28 yards.

Both interior lines lines in Minnesota require drastic overhauls, yet the Vikings did not sign any meaningful free agents to reinforce their fronts in the offseason.

Kirk Cousins’ Best is Not Enough Without a Run Defense

Kirk Cousins

GettyKirk Cousins during the Vikings’ Week 2 loss to the Eagles.

Cousins put together one of his best performances as a Vikings, completing 31 of 44 pass attempts for 364 yards and four touchdowns. But had Philadelphia converted more in the first half, the score would have likely looked like it did on Christmas Day three years ago.

The Eagles halftime adjustment wasn’t unfamiliar. The Buccaneers did the same thing in Week 1, coming out in the second half with a 16-play scoring drive, spanning 9 minutes, to take the lead.

Time of possession on Thursday was 39:28 to 20:32; Philadelphia had the ball almost twice as long as Minnesota.

O’Connell had the right answers addressing the frustrating fumbles that have been more a matter of bad luck than actual problems with ball security.

He also had the right answer to a problem they cannot fix with the current personnel in the trenches.

“Clearly, as much as they battled, defensively, we just put them on the field way too much and we have to find a way to right the ship from a ball security standpoint because that is a losing formula no matter how you look at it,” O’Connell said.

“We have to go back and continue to find ways to re-emphasize how important it is when you have the football in your hands playing for the Minnesota Vikings. Like I said, we’re really not giving ourselves clean opportunities to win these games the way that we started. I have to do a better job and we have to continue to emphasize it. There is a lot to be proud of from a standpoint of the guys at the very rarely can you lose the turnover battle four-to-one and have a chance at an onside kick with the chance to win the game.”

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