Thu, 07 Jul 2022

Lunchbreak: O'Connell-Cousins Ranked in Top 5 of New NFL HC-QB Duos

Minnesota Vikings
26 May 2022, 04:37 GMT+10

Lindsey Young

Kirk Cousins and Kevin O'Connell have worked together before but never in this capacity.

O'Connell served as Cousins' quarterbacks coach in 2017 when the two were in Washington, but now O'Connell will oversee Cousins as Minnesota's new head coach.

CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin pointed out that out of 32 teams, a "whopping 17 different clubs will debut new quarterback-head coaching duos."

Benjamin ranked all 17, and he slated Cousins and O'Connell fifth on the list. He wrote:

No one's betting on Cousins to headline a championship run, but for all the flak he gets, he's still a borderline top-10 passer with underrated efficiency and big-play potential. O'Connell is a relative unknown, but his resume as a former QB and Sean McVay assistant at least makes him a more promising partner for Cousins than the old-school Mike Zimmer.

Benjamin topped his rankings with Bucs QB Tom Brady and new Head Coach Todd Bowles, who previously served as Tampa Bay's defensive coordinator. Coming in at No. 2 was Broncos Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett, who previously worked in Green Bay, and QB Russell Wilson, who will look a little odd in orange after 10 seasons in Seattle.

The only totally new duo on the list, they represent the brightest beacon of hope for Denver since Peyton Manning in 2012. Wilson shoulders most of the load here; even if he isn't at his peak, he remains one of the most poised dual threats and deep throwers in the game. Hackett, by nature of being an Aaron Rodgers favorite, at least has the offensive pedigree.

Browns duo Kevin Stefanski and Deshaun Watson were ranked third, and Colts duo Frank Reich and Matt Ryan came in at No. 4 just ahead of Minnesota. The Vikings will face Reich and Ryan, who signed with the Colts in free agency, in Week 15.

Both Ryan and Reich have straddled the line of passable production as of late, and in that way they might be perfect for each other. The former is no longer an elite arm, but he's generally reliable. Paired with a coach who's logged three winning seasons and two postseason berths in four years despite annual QB change, they should at least headline a [Wild Card] run.

The Bears, whom the Vikings will of course see twice a year, landed at No. 11 with Head Coach Matt Eberflus and quarterback Justin Fields.

This is an instance of a curious setup actually impacting a young QB; unlike in Jacksonville, where Trevor Lawrence at least has the offensive resume of Doug Pederson to lean upon, Fields has to nurse his wounds from 2021 under Eberflus, who may keep their defense sharp but is not in town to be a QB whisperer. Doesn't mean the marriage can't work; it just feels lackluster in 2022.

Click here to see Benjamin's full rankings.

Vikings Legend Sidney Rice inducted into South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame

Sidney Rice certainly left his impact in Minnesota during his time with the Vikings.

The receiver played in Purple from 2007-10 before spending three seasons in Seattle to cap his career. Prior to the NFL, Rice was a standout at South Carolina before the Vikings drafted him 44th overall in 2007.

On Monday, Rice was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame, alongside former Wofford football coach Mike Ayers, longtime Clemson athletic trainer Fred Hoover and ex-Charlotte athletics administrator Judy Wilkinson Rose.

"I always think back about the people I watched when I was in middle school, in high school, and the things that they did in the state of South Carolina playing athletics," Rice told The State's Ben Portnoy. "I can't get over it. I'm blown away to be inducted into to the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame."

The occasion prompted Rice to reflect a bit on his collegiate days. Portnoy wrote:

It wasn't that long ago that Rice was the big man - figuratively and literally - on USC's campus. Steve Spurrier, at first, thought Rice was too big to play in his system when he took over for Holtz ahead of the 2005 season.

Those initial concerns, though, were blown away by a spellbinding dynamism that helped Rice break Sterling Sharpe's all-time program record for receiving touchdowns in just two years. Those efforts also twice earned him First-Team All-SEC selection.

Portnoy wrote that Rice's "sleek physique and muscular arms are a quick visual reminder of the matchup nightmare he once was on the grounds of Williams-Brice Stadium and around the SEC."

Rice finished his time at South Carolina with 142 receptions for 2,233 and 23 touchdowns receiving - not bad for that youthful but bouncy No. 4 on the practice fields of Columbia 18 years ago.

During his time in Minnesota, Rice totaled 146 catches for 2,129 yards - 1,312 of which he racked up in 2009 en route to the NFC Championship Game.

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