Grading NFL head-coach hires in 2022: Kevin O'Connell to Vikings, Dennis Allen to Saints, Lovie Smith to Texans, more

The NFL head-coaching carousel began quickly for the 2021 cycle, with nine jobs coming open, including two during the regular season following the firing of Urban Meyer by the Jacksonville Jaguars and the resignation of Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden.

The other six teams that fired their head coaches were the Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants. Then the New Orleans Saints' job opened when Sean Payton decided to retire. It was expected to be a quieter-than-usual cycle, but having nine openings tops last year's seven, and two of the teams -- Jacksonville and Houston -- were looking for coaches in the 2021 cycle as well.

The Broncos were the first to hire a new coach for this cycle, choosing Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Soon after, the Bears made their hire, bringing aboard Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. Then the Giants opted for Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, and the Raiders picked New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

The fifth hire is the Jaguars adding former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson. The sixth hire is the Dolphins making a move for San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel. Nos. 7 and 8 came on Feb. 7, as the Texans and Saints made their decisions. The final hire was by the Vikings, who are adding Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell.

How did they fare with the hires? We asked ESPN national NFL writers Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler to discuss the moves and give their grades.

Jump to: Broncos | Bears
Giants | Raiders | Jaguars
Dolphins | Texans | Saints | Vikings

See more: Tracking every coach hiring

Kevin O'Connell to the Vikings

NFL background: Offensive coordinator for the Rams (2020-21); offensive coordinator (2019) and quarterbacks coach (2017-18) for Washington; NFL quarterback (2008-2012)

Fowler: O'Connell, 36, was considered the most impressive candidate from the first round of interviews, and he kept up his momentum during the in-person interview. So, really, after the Jim Harbaugh theatrics, the Vikings' search landed where it started. O'Connell's knowledge of the Vikings' scheme, personnel and his overall presence impressed the team. He came across as well-prepared, with an answer for everything thrown their way. The Vikings wanted a young, up-and-coming coach. They feel that way about O'Connell, who has the right demeanor for the job.

Graziano: Yeah, O'Connell's name is one we've heard a bunch in recent years as an up-and-comer, and being the Rams' offensive coordinator under Sean McVay sure isn't a bad way to go if you want to become a head coach. O'Connell will be the fourth former McVay assistant to be a head coach in the NFL, joining the Packers' Matt LaFleur, the Bengals' Zac Taylor and the Chargers' Brandon Staley. Staley just went 9-8 in his first year as coach of the Chargers, LaFleur has won more games (39) in his first three seasons than any coach in history, and Taylor just took the Bengals to the Super Bowl (against McVay). What's even more amazing is that the 36-year-old McVay is still younger than all of these guys.