It’s Flores or Bust for the Vikings

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The Minnesota Vikings have needed a new defensive coordinator since roughly Week 6 of the 2022 NFL regular season. Despite an offensive-minded head coach in Kevin O’Connell, nothing could overcome the ineptitude shown by Ed Donatell or the defensive results. Now with options dwindling, it’s Brian Flores or bust for the Vikings.

To be fair, plenty of qualified candidates are still available to lead the Vikings defense. That’s all fine and well, but it won’t be ok for Minnesota to hire anyone but Brian Flores from an optics perspective. After Sean Payton took over as the Denver Broncos head coach, he initially barred defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero from interviewing for other jobs. Once he did grant permission, Evero was immediately scooped up by the Carolina Panthers.

It’s Flores or Bust for the Vikings

Reports had circulated for some time that Evero was the Vikings top candidate, and with him off the board, it’s now certainly Flores or bust. Flores, like Evero, has been seen as another top-tier choice for Minnesota, and the former Miami Dolphins head coach would be a great get. Having spent time with the Pittsburgh Steelers of late, he has also worked with a formidable head coach in Mike Tomlin. Bringing his expertise to the staff of O’Connell would be an excellent situation for all involved.

Flores or Bust
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The problem is that Flores isn’t only in contention for Minnesota.

As has been the case forever, Payton remains a thorn in the side of the Vikings. His New Orleans Saints team nearly ended Brett Favre during the NFC Championship game, and Evero’s hiring may have gone differently had he been able to interview with Minnesota immediately. Now Payton is also eyeing Flores for his defensive coordinator role, and it will be on Minnesota to strike strong and first.

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Flores has an outstanding reputation as a defensive leader in the league. His tenure with the Dolphins is marred by what looks like an unethical organization, and it certainly doesn’t reflect on his coaching abilities. Flores would be tasked with putting back together a Vikings defense that was nearly dead last in the league a season ago, and there will be plenty of turnover on that unit.

What Minnesota can’t afford to happen is another miss on their candidate. With Evero going elsewhere and it being Flores or bust, pivoting to Mike Pettine would be a disaster in optics. He could have been handed the job midseason when Donatell was clearly not cutting it, and the Vikings opted to continue letting that part of their ship sink. Pettine has been an internal contributor since O’Connell was brought on, and turning to him after missing on everyone else would look comical at best.

Image Courtesy of @MattAnderson_8 on Twitter.

Maybe there isn’t a better alternative than Pettine should the Vikings strike out on Flores, but they’ll have some gymnastics to participate in when explaining how they got to their conclusion. Rather than going down such a difficult road, it would be in the best interest of Minnesota if they simply put the best foot forward and don’t allow themselves to come up short on Brian Flores.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.