Ultimately, O’Connell will be the most important voice for Lance going forward.
One of the big reasons O’Connell was hired from the 2021 Super Bowl champion Rams as offensive coordinator was because of his background as a college and (briefly) NFL quarterback. O’Connell is counting on him to do what Spielman could not – identify a young franchise quarterback for the Vikings.
Lance will turn 23 in May and could be the right person to spend next season behind Cousins and then take over as the starter in 2024. Is this ideal from a contract point of view? No. But the attempt to draft a quarterback is very risky, or at a significant cost, if a team tries to advance in the first round.
Lance has risks but also known positives. He spent two years learning the offensive system of 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan, whose father, Mike, won two Super Bowls as coach of the Broncos, is part of the Shanahan coaching tree that includes O’Connell.
O’Connell and Kyle Shanahan have a respect and a shared thought process on quarterback play. It helped that the Vikings and 49ers held two combined training camp drills at the TCO Performance Center last summer, which gave O’Connell a long look at Lance that he usually doesn’t get.
O’Connell may have decided he didn’t like Lance and saw some in his mechanics, but there’s also a chance he saw the 6-foot-4, 224-pound QB that he thinks he is. Can be the starter he wants long term.
Assuming Lance’s recovery goes well, he had a second surgery in December to remove the hardware inserted during the first procedure to stabilize his ankle, a type of mobility offense that Cousin will not. do.
Lance will almost certainly need to get smarter when he runs, but the mobility to move the pocket is a valuable tool.
Many people think that Lance’s mechanics—including the way he throws and a long stride—are the deal-breakers. But one has to imagine that Shanahan has done a lot of work refining Lance’s throwing speed, and has spent a season working with O’Connell, and serving as the quarterback in waiting behind Cousins. However, this could set Lance up for success in his home state.