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The Zapruder Part of Vikings 2023 DC Search Begins

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Image Courtesy of @MattAnderson_8 on Twitter.

The Minnesota Vikings cut defensive coordinator Ed Donatell loose 12 days ago after the franchise flopped defensively in the playoffs versus the New York Giants.

Since then, head coach Kevin O’Connell has interviewed Sean Desai (Seattle Seahawks), Brian Flores (Pittsburgh Steelers), Ryan Nielsen (New Orleans Saints), and Mike Pettine (Vikings) as possible Donatell replacements.

The Zapruder Part of Vikings DC Search Begins

Well, the quest for a new defensive coordinator has gone radio silent recently, leaving fans wondering, “What’s the hold-up?” And on Tuesday, Vikings fans entered the Zapruder part of the cycle, as Climb the Pocket’s Matt Anderson tweeted, “Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah here in Mobile at Senior Bowl talking with Steelers Brian Flores who is a candidate for DC here in MN.”

The Zapruder Part of Vikings
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on before a wild card game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Indeed, Adofo-Mensah was seen chatting with a prospective defensive coordinator, Flores, who the Vikings interviewed on January 26th. Here’s the photo from Anderson:

Meanwhile, as the Vikings are sans a defensive bossman, the NFL’s head coaching carousel became clearer Tuesday, as the Houston Texans hired Demeco Ryans, and the Denver Broncos opted for Sean Payton.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted, “Unbelievable: The Broncos spent today trying to hire DeMeco Ryans AGAIN today before he recommitted to the Texans, sources say. When he agreed to terms with the Texans, they moved and finalized Sean Payton.”

The Vikings Must Be Waiting
Jan 9, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores watches from the sideline during the second quarter against the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports.

What does this mean? Payton was vying for the Arizona Cardinals head coaching job — and so is Flores. The Cardinals job may be the Vikings domino to hire a defensive coordinator, hence the quiet nature of the DC search amid the last week. Had the Cardinals signed on the dotted line with Payton, Flores could’ve been the Vikings primary choice as Donatell’s replacement.

But Payton didn’t join the Cardinals, so onlookers now await the announcement of the Cardinals top job. If it is Flores, he is obviously off the table as Vikings defensive coordinator, and the team may pivot to Sean Desai from the Seattle Seahawks, who interviewed with the club about a week ago.

Vikings Complete Interview with Top Candidate for DC
Oct 31, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores looks on against the Buffalo Bills during the second half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports.

Overall, the answer is an emphatic yes — we are at the point in the process where snapping pictures at the Senior Bowl evidently leads to clues about Minnesota’s eventual defensive coordinator hire.

Flores’ candidacy for the defensive coordinator job is especially exciting because he was the first man mentioned by the franchise as a replacement for Donatell. After Donatell’s departure, most Vikings enthusiasts lived in two days of “who’s it gonna be?” Then, the Flores’ interview news hit, and almost in unison, Vikings fans rejoiced.

We polled Vikings loyalists on Twitter last week to gauge the temperature of public opinion, and Flores is the overwhelming favorite among fans. A whopping 86.1% of fans want Flores in the saddle directing traffic for the Vikings defense in September.

Flores spent 11 seasons in Bill Belichick’s system with the Patriots before jumping to the head coach job with the Miami Dolphins. Here’s his tale of the tape:

Brian Flores,
as Miami HC,
Defense NFL Ranking:

DVOA

2019 = 32nd
2020 = 11th
2021 = 10th

EPA/Play

2019 = 32nd
2020 = 7th
2021 = 8th

The best piece of advice while monitoring Senior Bowl pictures or the Vikigns DC search, in general, is to await the announcement of Arizona’s next head coach. If it is not Flores, then Flores may take the Vikings defensive gig.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.



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