The Vikings lost their playoff game against the Giants because of one big reason – the defense. That opinion is almost universal and most folks in the media and the fan base agree. Throughout the season, the defensive unit was a disastrous one, as the team was located near the bottom of the league in most metrics and statistics.
For that reason, the Vikings parted ways with former defensive coordinator Ed Donatell and now have a vacant position in the coaching staff, maybe the most important one other than the head coach. There are multiple intriguing candidates available but none are more popular than a former head coach who used to lead a well-respected defense.
Vikings Request Interview with Popular DC Candidate
Brian Flores is the first name that is associated with the Vikings’ vacant coordinator job. His defensive coaching style is different than Donatell’s, possibly even the polar opposite. The 2022 Vikings blitzed the quarterback on 18.9% of his dropbacks, the ninth lowest in the NFL while Flores’ 2021 Dolphins sent extra pressure on 39.6%, the second most in the league.
Even the Miami defense in his first season with suspect personnel, probably even worse than current Vikings, blitzed on 31.6%, the 14th most that year. Of course, many blitzes don’t automatically equal a good defense but it is a first step to making it a more respected unit without sitting back in coverage and letting backup quarterbacks carve up that coverage – something quarterbacks did with Donatell’s unit all year.
After 15 years in the league in various positions in New England, Flores was hired as the new Miami Dolphins head coach in 2019 and led the team for three seasons. He could not lead the team to the postseason but to winning seasons in 2020 and 2021, the first consecutive winning seasons of the franchise since 2003 despite inheriting a bad team.
Some shows on television suggested that the 2019 Dolphins may be the worst team ever but Flores’ club managed to win five games and always played hard.
After his departure, Flores became senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach in Pittsburgh for former Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin, and possibly the most overqualified person of all employees in the NFL. After his year as a position coach, Flores is a highly-sough name.
He was requested to interview for the Cardinals’ head coaching job and some suggest he is the front-runner to get the job. However, there are no sure things in the NFL and he could be available for the Vikings. One negative aspect is that he would likely not be a long-term solution for the purple team, rather than someone who can fix the defense short term, as he will get another head coaching gig at some point.
One interesting wrinkle is that Flores and O’Connell both worked for the Patriots in 2008. O’Connell was just drafted to back up Tom Brady while Flores started his coaching career as special teams assistant. He was a pro scout in 2007.
The hire of Flores would require another scheme change. Minnesota underwent one of those just one year ago after the departure of Mike Zimmer and changed the system to a Vic Fangio 3-4 scheme. Flores is running a 3-4 as well, but he learned from Bill Belichick. Changes would be necessary, especially in coverage.
The Vikings should try anything to land the popular name and have him do the necessary defensive rebuild.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt