FILE – Minnesota Vikings special teams coordinator Matt Daniels walks on the sideline during the second half of an NFL game against the New York Giants, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, in Minneapolis. The Vikings won 27-24. Daniels has made a big impact in his first season as special teams coordinator. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn, File)
EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The bond Matt Daniels has developed with his players in his first season as the Minnesota Vikings’ special teams coordinator stretches from the team’s training facility to the parking lot.
Each week, Daniels awards his designated slot to a player whose effort and performance on the team’s unknown units deserves the honor.
From preferential vehicle treatment, to player nicknames and custom-fit hats with “ST” (Special Teams) on the front and an African proverb about community strength on the side, Daniels has done his best to make special teams in Minnesota, well, really special. It all starts with strategic meetings that are always interactive, never patronizing.
The camaraderie grew stronger during training camp, when Daniels’ father, Bruce, died of a heart attack. Daniels told his players that he needed their support and the connection has only grown since then.
“I like the two-way flow of communication,” Daniels said. “I don’t want to be up there where they constantly hear me speak for 30 to 40 minutes and I’m not getting any kind of conversation back to me.”
The 33-year-old, who is in his first season in a leadership position at any level, has coincided with an overall improvement by the Vikings in this vital area and has facilitated a unique camaraderie on a team that boasts strong chemistry as its greatest asset. active entering the playoffs. On Sunday they host the New York Giants in the Wild Card Round.
“It’s great to have a coach who trusts you, believes in you, like you’re just another player on the team the way it’s built,” said backup safety Josh Metellus, who blocked kicks in back-to-back games last month. past and was recently voted captain to replace injured right tackle Brian O’Neill.