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It's always dramatic.

Throughout the entire day on Wednesday, Minnesota Vikings fans refreshed their phones waiting for news to come across social media that Jim Harbaugh was being given the keys to the coach’s office at TCO Performance Center, along with the company car, roster control, a 10-year contract and lifetime supply of khakis. Instead, around 6:30 p.m., ESPN’s Adam Schefter dropped a bombshell that Harbaugh was heading back to Michigan. Moments later came a flood of reports that Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell was getting the nod as the next Vikings head coach.

What? We generally believed that the only reason for the Vikings to draw so much attention by bringing in Harbaugh was that they actually intended to hire Harbaugh. With a lightning rod like the former 49ers coach, you can’t just fly him in on National Signing Day to have coffee and talk about the weather. But there was buzz early in the day via author John U. Bacon that a Vikings minority owner was not comfortable with Harbaugh being the hire. Maybe we’ll find out in the coming days how much that was part of the discussion. All indications were that Harbaugh was coming here to have the purple carpet rolled out for him — not for a friendly chat and plane ticket back to Ann Arbor.

There’s a myriad of other things that could have played into it. If we take a moment to speculate, it’s altogether possible that the expected length of a potential deal for Harbaugh may not have matched up with how long the Wilfs were willing to sign him for. It’s plausible that the two sides didn’t see eye-to-eye on distribution of power. Heck, they might have even seen things differently with the future of the quarterback situation.

Without knowing for sure, we can only guess and wait until Harbaugh’s side leaks something to the Michigan press. But one thing we can reasonably wonder about is whether a marriage between new GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Harbaugh would have been best for the long-term success of the franchise. Timelines are everything in the NFL. Teams are always rising and falling, building and taking things apart (and sometimes in Miami, apparently, trying to pay off coaches to tank). In making this hire, the Vikings have to fully understand their timeline.

What we saw from the teams that went deep into the postseason is that they all struck while the iron was hot. The Bengals took advantage of an excellent QB on a rookie contract and spent a bunch of cap space to give their defense a fighting chance. The Rams tried to acquire every Pro Bowler they could find, no matter the expense in the form of draft picks. The Chiefs traded a first-round pick for a tackle. The Bills acquired weapons to put around Josh Allen.

None of these clubs were built in a day. Even the Rams have the sixth highest number of players acquired through the draft.

If the Vikings hired Harbaugh, it would have been hard to ask for patience. How can you tell an uber-competitive chaos machine that you’re going to go slow and steady and then go all-in when the time comes. With Harbaugh, you’re always in all-in mode. The Vikings, coincidentally, landed in this position because of four years of all-in mode.

Kevin O’Connell is a former journeyman backup QB who cut his teeth working up through the ranks as a quarterback coach and passing game coordinator before getting his chance as an offensive coordinator. He’s the Kevin Stefanski type who builds a body of work under quality coaches and then finally gets his chance. He’s the candidate who can be paired with a GM and quarterback — Kirk Cousins or otherwise — and build the roster together over several years with the aim of becoming a Super Bowl power rather than hoping for quick contention.

By the sheer fact O’Connell was hired, we can safely assume that he and Adofo-Mensah share a vision on how the roster needs to be constructed, what the Vikings should do at quarterback and how much patience is going to be required to get where they need to go. That allows Adofo-Mensah to do what he needs to do.

No, I’m not talking about tanking. I’m talking about tough decisions. Could Adofo-Mensah tell Jim Harbaugh that he was going to cut Danielle Hunter or trade Harrison Smith? Whether those moves are the right thing to do is a debate for another day but if Adofo-Mensah decides those are better long-term plays, was Harbaugh going to go along?

O’Connell is the coach you buy a starter home with and then upgrade when you have the budget. Harbaugh was going to be the mansion coach you spend your life savings on it and hope nothing goes wrong.

That doesn’t mean you want O’Connell to have no say. He’s a quarterback. Have him pick his quarterback. What kind of offensive linemen does he want? Is he an 11 personnel guy or does he want a fullback in the mix? Do they need another tight end beyond Irv Smith Jr.?

You can work together on all of those things. You can’t work together if the GM feels like he has to acquiesce to the more powerful coach.

One thing that would have been a plus about Harbaugh is that he’s been here before. Now Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell will have to sprint out of the gate across their first offseason with all sorts of potential potholes. They are inheriting a bad cap situation, mediocre draft capital and an NFL landscape where a half dozen quarterbacks could be traded. And the draft is allegedly weak.

What we know now is that they’ll be doing it together — rowing the same direction, to borrow from a fellow Twin Cities football man.

Anyway, you don’t have to be thrilled at O’Connell. We know barely anything about him aside from his Wikipedia page — which, oddly enough, includes that he’s the son of an FBI agent and played basketball with Chase Budinger. He’s a California guy, so it might be funny to see his face when he shows up for the first press conference and it’s 7 degrees. There isn’t anything on his Wiki resume like the 44-19-1 run Harbaugh had with the Niners.

There is, however, the space open for him and Adofo-Mensah to give something new and progressive a shot. Throw the analytics in a pot, add a bunch of McVay influence and see what comes out. If Harbaugh had never been brought in for an interview, that would have sounded like the best words you’d heard in years following the Zimmer/Spielman era.

There’s good news, too. We won’t have to wait long to learn about the Adofo-Mensah/O’Connell vision. Last year the Lions already traded Matthew Stafford by this time. Carson Wentz was dealt to Indy by February 18. If the new GM and new HC are going to completely revamp this thing, we’ll know soon.

And we can judge them from their first move together, without always wondering who’s really calling the shots. 

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