EAGON – Minnesota Viking successors didn’t want to see broadband coach Keenan McCardell be sent to pack when the Vikings decided to fire head coach Mike Zimmer. The team’s most successful position group in 2021 led their new coach Kevin O’Connell to keep his coach.
“I appreciate all these guys who will fight for me,” McCardell said Tuesday. “It simply came to our notice then. We take care of each other. We take care of each other. ”
McCardel was introduced to the Viking team in 2021 after spending the previous decade coaching successors to Washington, University of Maryland and Jacksonville. He inherited two stars from Justin Jefferson and Adam Tylen and led the development of KJ Osborn, who went from zero to 50 catches from his rookie to sophomore.
McCardell now has the task of leading the host corps through a change in the offensive system, developing a solid base of young depth receivers, and working with Jefferson as he seeks to take his game to new heights under O’Connell.
One of the first key elements of the new regime is to give players more freedom to make decisions based on what they see from the opposition. This means that McCardell must teach receivers how to read and react in order to become a driving force for crime.
“I love him because he burdens us more,” McCardell said. “We have to put the ownership on us to make the pass game work, so we have to be recruited, we have to communicate. It’s like we’re in control. We need to hear it, see it, take the right routes and make the plays. ”
The first two receivers, Tylen and Jefferson, have already shone under various offensive coordinators, but the group behind them is largely inexperienced, with the exception of recently signed veteran Albert Wilson. The Vikings will require contributions from younger hosts such as Osborne, Ihmir-Smith Marset and possibly a selection of the 2022 draft Jalen Naylor. No one knows better than McCardel, a former 12th-round pick who caught 883 passes, made two Pro Bowls and won the Super Bowl, how to work from the bottom of the depth chart to become a key player. On Tuesday, he talked about how he once came out of the bottom of the depth chart.
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“A DB coach once told me, ‘You have to play every day to make us think of you,'” McCardell said. “So every day of training I would do a play – a great play. One-handed catch, controlled by someone, makes a touchdown in the red zone. I would do a play a day. He told me that this league is for playmakers. It’s hard to get rid of playmakers. I did this when I was selected in the 12th round. I caught the eye of some people. “
Of course, the development of the back of the list pales in comparison to the importance of McCardell’s mentorship of Jefferson, who finished last season just a few yards from the Viking record for one season. McCardell preached to Jefferson that he should treat 2022 as a start.
“I heard Troy Aikman say that once, every year is a new year for him, every year he is a different person, a better person,” said the Viking coach. “After 10 years, Troy Aikman could be sitting there and being the same Troy Aikman, and everyone would say yes. But now, you know, he’d say next year is a new year, it’s like Year 1 for me. This is a new year. why not you Why not set a record for yards, catch for one year? why not you What you did last year was good, now let’s be great. “
McCardell said he’s not overdoing Jefferson, who has more reception yards in the last two seasons than any NFL receiver. He is just trying to steer it in the right direction based on his many years of experience.
“When you have a great player like this, you just try to keep him,” McCardell said. “Let his talent do the work. You help him with things he may not have seen before and I may have seen in my career. I’ve probably seen every look he’s seen, but I’m trying to help him get over it. Once he gets it, he gets it so fast and he knows how to capitalize. ”
Although his work with receivers is multidimensional this year, McCardell’s big goal is to get everyone in the reception area to pull in the same direction. He talks about joining the 2002 Super Bowl winners Buccaneers and how the team connected quickly. McCardell wants to see this from his players.
“We took ownership and held each other accountable and loved each other,” he said. “We made sure everyone was fine and when you could do that and have a great locker room.