Vikings Defense Is Ready to Bring the Aggression

Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores takes over the team's defense at an introductory press conference on February 15th, 2023, in Eagan, Minnesota.

Nothing disappointed the Vikings fanbase more last season than defensive performance.

What might have been if the unit hadn’t performed so badly? The results weren’t good, but that wasn’t the only issue. Ed Donatell’s defensive scheme, which gave us a very passive shell defense, just didn’t get the juices flowing.

But the good news is the Vikings defense is ready to bring the aggression.

Donatell’s shell coverage and reluctance to blitz sometimes made the Vikings defense a chore to watch. There was an over-reliance on Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith to get to the quarterback using just their own skills — with no help. What made it more frustrating was, in crucial moments, at the end of games when there was no choice but to go on the front foot, the Vikings defense made big game-defining plays repeatedly. Where was that the rest of the time?

Vikings Defense Is Ready to Bring the Aggression

Fans want to see a hard-hitting, aggressive defense. After one season of Donatell, it seems to be what Kevin O’Connell wants too. Donatell was relieved of his duties, and Brian Flores was brought in as the new defensive coordinator — a man of head coaching pedigree and a reputation for being strong tactically while creating fearsome defenses with young players. If it wasn’t for his ongoing lawsuit with the league, he may have already landed his next HC gig. Instead, he has the job of turning around the fortunes of Minnesota’s defense.

Defense Is Ready
Oct 15, 2021; Ware, United Kingdom; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores during a press conference at Hanbury Marriott Manor and Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Flores has a demanding and detailed coaching style from the Bill Belichick coaching tree. His defensive scheme relies on the cornerbacks playing man coverage on an island while he draws up exotic blitzes. It couldn’t be any further away from what we saw from Donatell last year. Under Flores’ stewardship, you can be assured the Vikings defense is ready to bring the aggression.

When linebacker Brian Asamoah posed.the following question on Twitter, “The Vikings defense is about to be______?” Teammate Josh Metellus replied with a one-word answer, “Aggressive.” Music to the ears of those of us who were frustrated by Donatell’s passive defense, the players are just as excited by the new approach.

Finding Hidden Gems

Flores also has a reputation on the scouting side as a guy who looks to find hidden gems and developing players. He already has some players in place to work in the form of Asamoah, Lewis Cine, Andrew Booth, and Akayleb Evans. In his opening press conference with the Vikings, Flores named Cine, Booth, and Asamoah as players he was fired up to develop. Injuries hampered the rookie season of all three, though Asamoah did impress in limited opportunities. All three can thrive playing an aggressive brand of football under Flores’ tutorship.

The Vikings Final Injury Report: Week 13
Oct 16, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Akayleb Evans (21) after a game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports.

One of the Vikings marquee signings in free agency so far is Byron Murphy. Despite four seasons in the league, he is still only 25 years old. He will be the Vikings No. 1 CB but still has untapped potential. Then, we move on to the draft, where there has been a lot of speculation surrounding the Vikings first-round pick.

Will they give Flores a first-round talent to work with? Or will the Vikings opt for a wide receiver or even a quarterback instead? Flores will undoubtedly have some defensive rookies to work with, and if he can unearth a hidden gem in the later rounds, that would be a massive boost for a Vikings organization that hasn’t drafted well enough recently. Adofo-Mensah’s first attempt didn’t exactly flourish in Year 1, but with a lot of defensive talent for Flores to work with, there could be a significant turnaround in Year 2.

Vikings GM Will Soon
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on before the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Most importantly, the Vikings defense is ready to bring the aggression and will be much better watch.