New Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell adds seasoned assistants

Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell smiles on the field with other Rams coaches during pregame warmups prior to a game against the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 26 in Minneapolis. (AP file photo)

EAGAN, Minn. — Kevin O’Connell will have plenty of experience on his staff with the Minnesota Vikings, including Mike Pettine as assistant head coach.

The Vikings announced the majority of their assistants under O’Connell before his introductory news conference on Thursday. Included prominently on the staff is the 55-year-old Pettine, who hired O’Connell as his quarterbacks coach in 2015 when he was in his second of two seasons as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. That was O’Connell’s first job in coaching.

As a first-time head coach with a background entrenched on offense, the 36-year-old O’Connell naturally brought in two well-traveled and widely respected assistants to aid in his decision-making and design the defense: Pettine and Ed Donatell.

The 65-year-old Donatell recently agreed to be the defensive coordinator, beginning his 32nd season as an NFL coach. Donatell ran the defense for the Denver Broncos the past three seasons and has previously served as defensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons.

O’Connell was also a backup quarterback for the New York Jets for much of Pettine’s tenure as defensive coordinator there from 2009-12. Pettine will enter his 21st year of coaching in the NFL with a fresh scouting report on the NFC North. He was defensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers from 2018-20 and a senior defensive assistant for the Chicago Bears in 2021.

Also hired on O’Connell’s staff were Brian Angelichio (tight ends coach and passing game coordinator), Jerrod Johnson (assistant quarterbacks coach), Chris Kuper (offensive line coach), Curtis Modkins (running backs coach and running game coordinator), Chris O’Hara (quarterbacks coach), Justin Rascati (assistant offensive line coach) and Chris Rumph (defensive line coach). Wide receivers Keenan McCardell is expected to remain in his role and give O’Connell at least one holdover from the previous staff under head coach Mike Zimmer.

Offensive coordinator, special teams coordinator and position coaches for linebackers and defensive backs are the most important spots left to fill on O’Connell’s staff.

The former offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams joined the rest of the NFL’s newest champions for the Super Bowl parade and party on Wednesday, before flying on a private jet with his wife and three children to frigid Minnesota and a temperature drop of more than 60 degrees.

The native of Carlsbad, California — who starred at nearby San Diego State and was drafted by the New England Patriots in 2008 — has become the 10th head coach in franchise history as the Vikings enter their 62nd season in the league.


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