Vikings to Showcase One of NFL’s Biggest Adjustments at Training Camp

Jul 27, 2022; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman James Lynch (92) performs a drill at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

In three weeks, the Minnesota Vikings kick off 2023 training camp, the first real on-the-field endeavor to help maintain a 13-4 record from 2022.

The Vikings are forecasted by sportsbooks to regress, only pegged with eight or nine wins as of early July.

Vikings to Showcase One of NFL’s Biggest Adjustments at Training Camp

But to defend the NFC North — and win the thing in back-to-back years for the first time since 2008 and 2009 — the Vikings defense must improve. That’s why the franchise hired Brian Flores in February after firing 2022 defensive coordinator Ed Donatell in January.

Vikings to Showcase
Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Flores was hired in February 2023 to take over for Ed Donatel after Minnesota finished 30th in points allowed.

And according to Bleacher Report, the Vikings switch to Floresism will be among the NFL’s biggest adjustments at training camp. BR‘s Kristopher Knox outlined about 11 of the league’s most sizable coaching changes, and Flores in Minnesota made the cut.

Elaborating on what he called a ‘Brian Flores and a more intense, effective Vikings defense,’ Knox explained, “There’s no guarantee the Vikings are back in the playoff mix this year, not after the departures of players such as Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook, Za’Darius Smith and Eric Kendricks. If they are back in the playoffs, it’ll likely be because of a defensive surge brought on by new coordinator Brian Flores. Under former coordinator Ed Donatell, the defense was too often bland, inefficient and ineffective. Flores is an experienced play-caller who has shown he can turn a unit around quickly.”

Brian Flores Will Have 1
Dec 19, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores runs off the field after winning the game against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings defense ranked 30th in points allowed and 31st in yards allowed last season, head coach Kevin O’Connell’s first in charge.

“In his lone season as the Pittsburgh Steelers senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach, he helped the defense rank eighth in yards per carry allowed after finishing the previous season dead-last in the same category. Flores is already bringing creativity and intensity to his new unit,” Knox continued.

Perfect Storm Invites
Feb 28, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo‐Mensah during the NFL combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota’s general manager, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, consciously decided this offseason to move on from expensive and aging veterans while promoting younger players to starting roles like linebacker Brian Asamoah and possibly defensive backs Andrew Booth and Lewis Cine.

Knox concluded about Flores and the Vikings defensive adjustment, “On paper, the Vikings defense doesn’t appear more talented than it was a year ago, but games aren’t played on paper. In camp, Flores can forge a defense that is much more effective than it was in 2022.”

Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Marcus Davenport addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Davenport joined the Vikings in March of 2023 after four seasons with the New Orleans Saints.

Adofo-Mensah also added outside linebacker Marcus Davenport and cornerback Byron Murphy in free agency, two men already on deck to start this September.

With the NFL in a deadzone until the start of training camps, various media outlets have ranked offensive and defensive groups per team in the last few weeks. The Vikings usually check in around the league’s bottom on defense.

Minnesota and the Flores-led defense host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1, some 70 days from now.

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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