See more of the story

It's not a very useful expenditure of energy to get worked up about perceived snubs in sports. Awards and honors are subjective, and not all credentials are created or judged equally.

But it struck me as odd when looking at a list of five finalists for the Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year award that it was missing this name: Kevin O'Connell. It's not to say the Giants' Brian Daboll, the Bills' Sean McDermott, the Jaguars' Doug Pederson, the 49ers' Kyle Shanahan, and the Eagles' Nick Sirianni weren't deserving. But O'Connell was, too.

As discussed on Thursday's Daily Delivery podcast, there are multiple reasons why the first-year Vikings head coach was deserving of at least being a finalist.

Here are five ways he was snubbed:

  1. Justin Jefferson's ascent: O'Connell is the architect of an offense that led to a surge in productivity for the already excellent Jefferson. It was enough to land Jefferson a spot among the five MVP finalists, but it wasn't good enough to get O'Connell in a similar position? That doesn't seem right.

2. A five-win increase: The Vikings changed very little about their personnel even after hiring O'Connell and new GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. And still the Vikings boosted their win total from eight wins in 2021 (and seven in 2020) to 13 this season. Even if you thought the Vikings were talented enough to win more in previous years, that's an accomplishment.

3. One-score success: The Vikings set an NFL record by going 11-0 in one-score games during the regular season. Some fortune was involved, to be sure, but the repetitive nature of those wins also speaks to good coaching. And it gives the sense that O'Connell overachieved.

4. Reset culture: Aside from wins and losses, it was clear that O'Connell accomplished the task of resetting the culture with the Vikings. While duplicating this year's success will be a challenge in 2023, a foundation for future success exists in large part because of O'Connell.

5. Eye test/in-game moves: Aside from a few exceptions — the curious 3rd-and-1 call in the playoff loss to the Giants being primary among them — I rarely watched a Vikings game this year and disagreed vehemently with O'Connell's play calling or in-game moves. Part of being a good coach is, um, coaching the game. And he did that well this year.

There were plenty of good candidates this year — so many, in fact, that O'Connell didn't even make this list of coaches who were snubbed. But he was worthy of being right up there with the rest.