The Arizona Cardinals said sayonara to the general manager and head coach combo of Steve Keim and Kliff Kingsbury after a disastrous 2022 season resulting in a stinky 4-13 record.
The franchise doled out the big bucks to Keim, Kingsbury, and quarterback Kyler Murray last offseason, and they received four wins in 2022 to show for it. Not ideal.
You Should Probably Want Sean Payton to Get the ARI Job
And while Minnesota Vikings fans generally don’t care about anything former Saints head coach Sean Payton does, they should probably be cheering for the man to earn the Cardinals HC gig.
Why? Well, a source tells VikingsTerritory that Minnesota thinks highly of defensive coordinator candidate Brian Flores, and he’s currently in the mix for the Cardinals top job. If Flores is the odd man out — meaning Payton or somebody else is hired — the chances of Flores leading the Vikings 2023 defense skyrocket.
According to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert on Thursday, “The Vikings have completed an interview with Brian Flores for their defensive coordinator position. Flores is also a candidate for the Cardinals’ HC job. Vikings DC interviews so far: Ryan Nielsen, Sean Desai, Mike Pettine and Flores.”
So, that means the Vikings may be down to the nitty gritty for their defensive coordinator search, as the three other candidates mentioned by Seifert, Sean Desai (Seattle Seahawks), Ryan Nielsen (New Orleans Saints), and Mike Pettine (Vikings), have also completed interviews. The decision could be announced in mere hours, days, or weeks at the latest.
And Vikings fans want Flores above all else, make no mistake. VikingsTerritory polled the team’s fans this week, and the DC of choice was glaring and unmistakable:
Yes, that’s 86.1% of all 534 respondents from the unscientific poll.
Flores’ candidacy for the defensive coordinator job is especially exciting because he was the first man mentioned by the franchise as a replacement for Ed Donatell. Until last Saturday, most Vikings enthusiasts lived in two-day limbo of “who’s it gonna be?” Then, the Flores’ interview news hit, and almost in unison, Vikings fans rejoiced.
Because of his “big name,” Payton is probably a frontrunner to land the Arizona job, especially with his credo of attaching to a stellar quarterback. The Cardinals were lousy in 2022, but on the whole, Kyler Murray is an incredibly promising young quarterback — one who could be polished with relative ease by Payton, who coached the Saints for 16 years.
Last year around this time, Flores was fired by the Dolphins, who apparently wanted to be done with Flores and move on to an offense-first head coach in Mike McDaniel. The termination was odd because Flores had restored the Dolphins to respectability, were trending in the right direction, and even beat the New England Patriots in the final game of 2021.
Flores then interviewed for the New York Giants head job. Brian Daboll was chosen instead, leading some to believe Flores was a “token interview” to placate the Rooney Rule. Flores sued the NFL accordingly. It’s also been speculated that the Dolphins asked Flores to “tank,” a strategy he ignored.
He spent 11 seasons in the Bill Belichick system with the Patriots before jumping to the big job in Miami.
If anyone other than Brian Flores is named as the Cardinals head coach, Flores may be the person tasked with transforming Minnesota’s defense this summer and autumn.
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.