A former backup New York Jets quarterback is about to go from the bench to the highest mountain top in the NFL.
While he is expected to become the next head coach of the purple people eaters, that can’t become official until after the Super Bowl.
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An Interesting Path
He was slated to be the No. 2 quarterback behind Mark Sanchez, but the coaching staff had a change of heart. O’Connell logged two years with the Jets from 2009-10 before moving on to greener pastures. He did have a second stint with the team in 2011.
Now he is on top of the football world as the Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator seeking his first Super Bowl championship on Sunday, February 13 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
O’Connell is only 36 years of age but his hire is the latest trend in the NFL with young offensive-minded head coaching prospects. The thought is to get him maybe a year or two early and allow him to grow and evolve on the job.
Prior to taking this gig the former San Diego State product had slowly climbed to the NFL coaching ladder ascending from quarterback’s coach to passing game coordinator to offensive coordinator and now the next natural step is as a head coach.
The Vikings weren’t the only team interested in his services as O’Connell interviewed for three separate NFL head coaching gigs this cycle (Vikings, Denver Broncos, and the Houston Texans).
Spurned and Scorched
Interestingly enough the other candidate that was in the running for the Vikings job, Patrick Graham, actually turned the Jets down last year when they tried to interview him.
He was the only head coaching candidate to turn the green and white down in the last cycle.
Part of the thought process, according to Giants Insider Art Stapleton, he wanted to stick by his guy Joe Judge. Less than a year later Judge was fired and Graham was left hanging in the wind.
Fortunatley as Art Stapleton noted on Twitter, Graham interviewed for two head coaching gigs this offseason. Internally he got a shot at the vacant New York Giants job and the aforementioned Vikings position.
The plan now is for Graham to return to the Giants under a new coaching staff and use that as a “springboard” to the top of the market in 2023.
Graham is expected to return as the G-Men’s defensive coordinator under the Brian Daboll regime.