At the nascent stages of his tenure, new Minnesota Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell has already won over key members of the locker room.
"Just for him to come in and be a laid-back coach ready to change the whole program and get us back on that winning stage," receiver Justin Jefferson said Tuesday, via the team's official website. "We're all excited. We've seen so many new faces in here, so many new coaches. ... We have so much potential on this team. We're all ready to get this thing started back up."
Jefferson describing O'Connell as "laid-back" stands in stark contrast to past coach Mike Zimmer's rigid, austere style. As with most coaching hires, the Vikings went from one extreme to the other.
"Just him being close (in age) to us, he can connect more with us," Jefferson added of O'Connell. "He has that younger vibe, so you know he'll play music in the locker rooms, play music in the meeting room before the meeting starts.
"All of that gets us into our comfort zone. It feels laid back coming back to work. It's just not all about business. It's about having fun doing what we love to do and coming to focus."
O'Connell's coaching style will win him points with a younger group of players. However, it's his offensive acumen that could help turn the Vikes from a team that continually fell short in close games to a contender in the NFC.
"There's a lot of different formations, moving guys around, putting guys in different spots," receiver Adam Thielen said. "I think some of the route stuff is more player-friendly probably, just to be able to kind of just go out there and feel the game, play the game. There's a lot more feel to it, rather than, 'You gotta do this at this point, at this time.'
"Not to say that there's a wrong way to do it, it's just different. Excited about that. Again, we haven't really talked about plays much, just kind of starting the basics right now, formations, and just kind of some terminology stuff. But what I've seen from afar, it's definitely an offense that kind of just lets their players do what they do well and go and try to beat the coverage that they're throwing at us. Try to make things look difficult to the defense but easy for the offense."
Playing in a similar offense to one that saw Cooper Kupp win the receiving triple crown last season has Jefferson excited for what could be in store in 2022.
"Seeing what Cooper Kupp did last year, him getting close to the (receiving yards) record, him being so open so many times," Jefferson said. "There's a lot of things on film that I watched and looked at and I'm excited about this year. Even being in the meetings with him and him talking over schemes and different things he did with the Rams and things he's planning on doing with us, it's very exciting. I'm definitely excited to start the season -- right now."
After years with a coach who desired a run-first, run-always approach to offense, the Vikings are experiencing life on the other side of the river.
It's commonplace for positive vibes to overflow in April following a coaching change. But, for those laid-back vibrations to continue into the winter, O'Connell must prove he can sport a winning program.