The Washington Redskins hired Kevin O'Connell as the new quarterbacks coach on Monday after former quarterbacks coach, Matt Cavanaugh, was promoted to offensive coordinator.
O'Connell , 31, was on the 49ers offensive staff this past season after being the Browns quarterbacks coach in 2015. Before the hire, he had been linked to becoming a co-offensive coordinator at the college level.
O'Connell was a standout at San Diego State along with being a four year captain for the Aztecs. He holds the school records for career rushing yards by a quarterback (1,312), career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (19) and single-season rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (11), an area – running and escaping the pocket -- that Kirk Cousins has admitted he'd like to improve.
O'Connell backed up Tom Brady for a season after being drafted in the third round by the Patriots in the 2008 NFL Draft, and would end up playing for five different franchises, bouncing around on a few practice squads.
While playing for the Jets, where, coincidentally, Cavanaugh was O'Connell's quarterback coach in 2011, coaches and players described him as a quasi-coach, calling him as "Coach O'Connell".
"He's a coach with a lot of football talent," said then Jets rookie quarterback Greg McElroy in a New York Times feature. "That's really what it is. He has a great mind for it, a great eye for it. He has a tremendous feel on game days. He can see the entire field from the sideline. He can see the game vertically, as if watching film, from the sidelines."
Former Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer expressed that O'Connell would be a great coach in the future.
"He's great on game day. He has a clipboard. He's charting coverages and things like that," Schottenheimer said. "He really gets the game. He really gets the game and I think, obviously, when he's done playing, he'll be a great coach."
O'Connell's football knowledge impressed his coaches so much that he was responsible for breaking down situational tape for third downs, red-zone situations, and two-minute drills, things the Redskins offense would like to improve next season.
After his playing career, O'Connell developed high school and collegiate quarterbacks before getting his first coaching stint in the NFL with the Browns in 2015. There he worked with quarterback Josh McCown, who became the first player in Browns franchise history to throw for 300-or-more yards in three consecutive games.