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.”
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.”
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.
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:
as Miami HC,
Defense NFL Ranking:
2019 = 32nd
2020 = 11th
2021 = 10th
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).