Kevin O’Connell envisions a 3-man defensive front for the Vikings

Minnesota Vikings Introduce Kevin O'Connell
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The Vikings have used a base 4-3 defense for a long, long time. That’s going to be changing.

Asked during his introductory press conference whether the Vikings will use a three-man defensive front, new head coach Kevin O’Connell said that, indeed, the team will.

“I think from a base standpoint you can look at it that way,” O’Connell said. “But I think somebody threw out the stat to me the other day, with everybody really living in 11 personnel [one running back, one tight end] nowadays, I think depending on the defense you talk to, 81 percent of the time they’re in nickel defense, which essentially is just a 4-3 with a nickel in the game instead of — a fifth DB, I should say, in the game instead of a third linebacker. A lot of times a big thing . . . is being multiple with your fronts because I know as an offensive coach if we know where you’re going to be, we know where you’re going to line up, that makes it pretty easy at least to design things to attack angles, understand how you want to run the ball, how you want to protect, but when you’re changing that picture and forcing opponents to deal with multiple fronts during a game, during a drive in some cases, that can be a real weapon for a defense, pairing that with some really good things on the back end, that’s kind of what we’re hunting.”

So it’ll be a 3-man base, but with multiple fronts aimed at keeping the offense guessing.

That makes sense on the surface, but the challenge comes from having the right personnel in place. If the defense will be fundamentally changing, some players currently on the team may not fit. And the Vikings would then need to find other players who are better skilled to running the defense.

The best coaching happens when the systems take advantage of the things the available players can do. Forcing a square peg into a round hole becomes a recipe for a bad defense. If the Vikings aren’t careful about the transition they plan to make, that’s precisely what they will have.

39 responses to “Kevin O’Connell envisions a 3-man defensive front for the Vikings

  1. ask the commodes how that worked out for them when they hired Jim Haslett and switched over to 3-4 without the proper personnel.

  2. Sometimes the personell dictates whether to go with 3-4 or 4-3. Sometimes it’s the opponent. During one playoff run, Belechick used a 4-3 against Ben Rothlesburger and the Steelers, a3-4 against Payton Manning and the Colts, and in the SB the Pats went mainly with a 4-3 against the Eagles. That kind of versitility is possible only with smart disciplined players.

  3. He said they’d mix 3-4/4-3 schemes, and if they keep Barr, which is something unexpected, they’ll likely have the personnel. It’s not like they were a top 10 defense last year with the personnel they had.

  4. A team can take care of this with a couple of years of draft. Players today need to be versatile to be successful in the NFL, if not, they won’t be playing very long.

  5. This new defense, combined with chillyball 2.0 offense . . . we can’t be stopped. Looking forward to possibly even making a playoff appearance in the next few seasons.

  6. We probably don’t have the personnel, but that doesn’t mean you don’t do it. You will evolve into the correct personnel from having high draft picks, due to losing a lot of games because you have a bad defense with the wrong personnel to fit the scheme.

  7. It’s not like the defense has been working well, go ahead and shake things up. Whatever it is, just please stop the run

  8. Just remember when turd nation in green bay switched over to this defense they are now considering the laughing stock of the league when it comes to defense.

  9. Vikings defense is old and bad, anyway. 2022 should be a rebuild. Be like Bill….dump them before you have to pay for past accomplishments. Should be bye-bye Harry, kendricks….no offers to Barr, Peterson….renegotiate with or trade Hunter….

  10. Or we can dump all our money into offense and defense and not special teams. How does that work out? Packer rubes?

  11. Gotta love it when a fan of the 24th ranked defense in the league talks smack about the 17th ranked. Really not the sharpest knife in a drawer full of butter spreaders.

  12. Or we can dump all our money into offense and defense and not special teams. How does that work out? Packer rubes?
    ——
    I’m not sure who’s more oblivious, you or ariani. You’re qb has a $45 million cap hit this year. Your best defensive player has an $18 million signing bonus due soon. For some reason you’re talking about US spending on offense and defense? That doesn’t even make sense if you don’t factor in that we went 13-4 while y’all finished under .500. Again.

  13. If you’re going to switch, now is the time to do it. Everyone is talking about the personnel that we currently have won’t fit in the 3-4 defense. Well, I say the personnel we have didn’t fit in the 4-3 we played last year and as a matter of fact they sucked, so why not change?

  14. No worries – Donatell and Pettine do nothing better than to try to hammer square pegs into round holes.

  15. pkrlvr says:
    February 18, 2022 at 1:26 pm
    Or we can dump all our money into offense and defense and not special teams. How does that work out? Packer rubes?
    ——
    I’m not sure who’s more oblivious, you or ariani. You’re qb has a $45 million cap hit this year. Your best defensive player has an $18 million signing bonus due soon. For some reason you’re talking about US spending on offense and defense? That doesn’t even make sense if you don’t factor in that we went 13-4 while y’all finished under .500. Again.

    ////

    Blah blah blah.

    We didn’t spend every minute bragging about being better football for better people, then laying an egg (again) in the big game.

    Unless you win it all, it only means we get a higher draft pick. (Hopefully better with this GM)

    Our GM, coach and local Walmart employee don’t waste time kissing our QB’s ass do he doesn’t pout and threaten to leave for not getting his way.

  16. If they’re planning on keeping Kirk, they’ll be getting rid of all of their higher-paid defensive players anyway, so they’ll have to start from scratch.

    If they do the right thing and trade Kirk, they have some pieces that would work well in a 3-4. Michael Pierce is a prototype 3-4 nose guard. Dalvin Tomlinson is a good 3-4 DT. Danielle Hunter was a stand-up pass rusher his rookie year because he was more comfortable that way. Barr is a free agent but if he wants to come back for cheap he would be a very good 3-4 ILB. Pick up a free agent here and a few draft picks there and you’re in business.

  17. it’s not gold…..it’s yellow says:
    Vikings defense is old and bad, anyway. 2022 should be a rebuild. Be like Bill….dump them before you have to pay for past accomplishments. Should be bye-bye Harry, kendricks….no offers to Barr, Peterson….renegotiate with or trade Hunter….
    ///////
    Keep Hunter and are you serious about Kendricks? He’s one of the best. He was drafted in 2015… probably only 28-29 years old. That’s prime. The others… probably best to dump them. That’s tough for me to say about Smith, one of my favorites.

  18. I gotta say, I don’t really like O’Connell. Something just doesn’t seem right. Another Mcvay disciple… geez.

  19. Coach O’Connell has already been busy talking about Xs and Os, I certainly hope somebody over there gave this man a proper tour of the Viking’s trophy room..’er….broom closet. 😃

  20. “ask the commodes how that worked out for them when they hired Jim Haslett and switched over to 3-4 without the proper personnel.”

    Exactly. O’Connell might have even been on the Washington staff at that time so he should know better.

    Ryan Kerrigan had to move from 4-3 end to 3-4 OLB which gave the all-time franchise sack leader coverage responsibilities. When they drafted DE Montez Sweat, had to stick him at OLB with coverage as well.

    The switch back to 4-3, while better, had its problems too. Those 3-4 ends all became 4-3 DTs, creating a backlog where their one-time sack leader in Matt Ionnaidis has served the last two seasons as $9M/yr backup DT.

    Neither 4-3 or 3-4 is proven to be better so why create all that roster inefficiency trying to make the switch?

  21. I just thought to look this up. Here is the year of birth for every Vikings head coach:

    Norm Van Brocklin – 1926
    Bud Grant – 1927
    Les Steckel – 1946
    Jerry Burns – 1927
    Dennis Green – 1949
    Mike Tice – 1959
    Brad Childress – 1956
    Leslie Frazier – 1959
    Mike Zimmer – 1956
    Kevin O’Connell – 1985

    Yes, I think we’re entering a new era of Viking football.

  22. patsfan4lifedynasty says:
    February 18, 2022 at 12:54 pm
    Mac Jones > Kirk Cousins

    ——————————————————————

    Arron Rodgers > Joe Burrow > Josh Allen = Pat Mahomes > Mac Jones = Kirk Cousins

  23. ariani1985 says:
    February 18, 2022 at 12:46 pm
    Just remember when turd nation in green bay switched over to this defense they are now considering the laughing stock of the league when it comes to defense.
    /////////////./

    That’s a good point. But the Turdisota Turdkings under Turdy Wilf and his family need to get things straight. (And hey, this is fun being obsessed with turds like you are!)

  24. We have a new GM and and new coach. Free agency hasn’t even started yet. My guess is the roster will look a lot different in August. Absolutely NOTHING to see here.

  25. I think his hire is a great move in the right direction for the Vikings. You have to have a youngblood leading the way in this day and age. The old school stuff ain’t flying. Screaming until your eyes bleed isn’t the answer. Good luck to the Vikings.

  26. @harry hands. . Kendricks will be 30 in 10 days….Google is a wonderful thing. The 30s are not a wonderful thing for defense. Hunter may be great, but he’s played 7 games in 2 years. Trade him. Trade Kirk. The only untouchable is Jefferson.

  27. philmccracken says:
    February 18, 2022 at 5:04 pm
    The new Vikings coach scored a 24 on his Wonderlic test. 🤣

    ////

    Jealous? Makes your 12 look great.

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