Vikings hire Brian Flores as next defensive coordinator
Former Miami coach is viewed as a perfect fit for Vikings as they work to revamp their struggling defense.
ST. PAUL -- Never mind that it took nearly a month. In the end, the Minnesota Vikings got the guy they wanted all along.
On Monday afternoon, the Vikings officially announced they have hired Brian Flores as their next defensive coordinator. He spent last season as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers and is viewed as a perfect fit for the Vikings as they work to revamp a defense that struggled mightily in 2022.
This is a huge get for head coach Kevin O’Connell and the Vikings, especially after another top candidate, Ejiro Evero, recently accepted a job as defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers. Though the Vikings had interest in Evero as soon as the Denver Broncos released him from his contract, Flores was always regarded as a frontrunner, as well, after interviewing last month.
The most interesting part about the timing is that Flores reportedly was a finalist to be next head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. He also was set to interview with the Broncos as they search for a new defensive coordinator.
Apparently the Vikings made Flores an offer he couldn’t refuse. He takes over for former defensive coordinator Ed Donatell and is tasked with fixing a group that finished the 2022 season ranked 31st among 32 NFL teams in total defense.
If his previous stops offer any sort of indication, Flores, who turns 42 this month, will bring an aggressive style of defense to the Vikings. He has proven in the past that he’s not afraid to bring pressure, which is something the Vikings didn’t do much of last season under Donatell.
After getting hired by the Vikings last winter, O’Connell made the decision to switch to a 3-4 base defense. He decided on Donatell as his defensive coordinator largely because he was a disciple of revered Vic Fangio.
Now that the Vikings are turning the page, it’ll be interesting to see if the defensive scheme changes with Flores in charge.
Aside from Flores, the Vikings formally interviewed New Orleans Saints assistant coach Ryan Nielsen, Seattle Seahawks assistant coach Sean Desai, and their own assistant coach Mike Pettine during their search for a defensive coordinator. Things didn’t go very far with Nielsen as he quickly accepted a job as defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons. Not long after that, Desai removed himself from the interview process as he pursued other opportunities.
After starting his coaching career with the New England Patriots — building his reputation as a four-time Super Bowl champion under Bill Belichick — Flores became head coach of the Miami Dolphins. He held that position from 2019-21 before being abruptly fired despite leading the franchise to back-to-back winning seasons.
He later filed a class action lawsuit against the NFL that alleged racial discrimination against minority coaching candidates. That lawsuit is ongoing and also alleged that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross pressured Flores to tank in order to position the franchise for a higher draft pick.
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