The biggest move that the Minnesota Vikings made during the 2023 offseason didn’t involve the signing of anyone that’s going to be on the field this coming season. Rather, it was the addition of long-time NFL coach Brian Flores to Kevin O’Connell’s staff as the new defensive coordinator, replacing Ed Donatell after just one season. While there were some familiar names that departed, the Vikings seem to be counting on Flores’ knowledge and expertise to help overcome those things.
Despite not having actually coordinated anything for the purple yet, Flores is already being recognized as one of the best in the league at his job. Over at Pro Football Focus, Trevor Sikkema has ranked the top defensive coordinators in the NFL and has Flores checking in at #8.
After spending the 2022 season as the linebackers coach in Pittsburgh, Flores will return to a featured coaching role, this time as defensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings.
Before his time with the Steelers, Flores was head coach of the Dolphins. In his first season, they ranked dead last in points per game allowed (30.9). In his second season, they jumped all the way to fourth (21.1). In his final season, Miami fell to 15th, but their average stayed true at 21.9 points allowed per game. The Dolphins placed sixth in the league in expected points allowed per play in those final two seasons with Flores at the helm.
The sort of jumps that the defense made in Flores’ time with Miami seems to show that he can potentially turn that unit around in short order here in Minnesota. The Vikings are very young in the secondary (with the obvious exception of Harrison Smith), but the team feels that Flores is going to be able to put them into a position to succeed by playing to their strengths and, hopefully, dialing up the pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
In any event, the defense in Minnesota should improve from this past season, when Donatell was set on running a scheme that he didn’t have the personnel for and constantly got outschemed by opposing offensive coordinators. I don’t know how many times I was pleading with my TV screen for the Vikings to do literally anything other than what they had been doing, because what they were doing wasn’t working.
None of the other defensive coordinators in the NFC North appeared on Sikkema’s list, for the record. That would seem to be a good thing for the Minnesota offense as well.
(Hat tip to Vikings Wire for finding this story first.)