Forget Flores — You Actually Want This Man to Become the New Vikings DC

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings need a new defensive coordinator since the dismissal of 2022 DC Ed Donatell. On the defensive side, the purple team needs a complete overhaul, as the scheme didn’t work, and the players are getting older. A new play caller and new personnel are the best chance to see an effective defensive unit in 2023.

Four candidates have been interviewed for the position so far. Most fans want the team to hire former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores who is a great option. In addition to him, the organization interviewed former Saints co-defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen. He took the same job in Atlanta. Assistant head coach Mike Pettine also received an interview, just like Sean Desai, the Seahawks associate head coach.

Forget Flores – You Actually Want This Man to Become the New Vikings DC

Forget Flores
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Flores seems to be the clear favorite among fans, while Pettine is someone they don’t want because he was part of the coaching staff to blame for the 2022 disaster. Folks are torn on Desai, but he’s certainly an interesting alternative. However, a different name is emerging, and he could be the solution — Ejiro Evero.

Evero is currently the defensive coordinator in Denver, so the move would be lateral. The Broncos are searching for a new head coach, and the new guy can block that lateral move to keep Evero on the staff.

Reportedly, the Broncos want to hire former Saints head coach Sean Payton. That move would require a trade for his rights, as he is still under contract in New Orleans, something the Broncos seem to accept.

Payton is setting up an interview with defensive mastermind Vic Fangio as his defensive coordinator. Interestingly, the Broncos fired Fangio last year after three seasons with the program.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The reports a couple of days ago suggested that Fangio would join the coaching staff in Miami, but the potential hiring of Payton apparently changes things.

If the Broncos employ Fangio as defensive coordinator, they would not keep Evero on the staff, and he could emerge as a candidate for the vacant DC job in Minnesota.

Despite turning only 42 years old in January, Evero has almost two decades of experience in various positions on different coaching staffs in the NFL and college. Two of his stints are especially interesting for Vikings fans.

From 2011 to 2015, Evero worked for the San Francisco 49ers. Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah worked for the same organization from 2013 to 2019. The two likely know each other.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

Kevin O’Connell is the second man in the Vikings organization with ties to Evero. O’Connell worked for the Rams in 2020 and 2021. The team employed Evero as a secondary coach and passing game coordinator in the same two seasons. Knowing people in front offices and coaching staffs is the best way to get a job in the NFL.

However, Vikings fans should not want Evero as defensive coordinator because of his connections but because of his football brain. His coaching style is exactly what the Vikings lacked in 2022.

His 2022 Broncos defense, the unit he took over from Vic Fangio, blitzed on 32.9% of the plays, the fourth most in the league. The Vikings, for comparison, blitzed on only 18.9%, the ninth-lowest rate. And blitzing seems to be in his DNA.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

You’ve got to affect the quarterback. If you can’t get there with four, you’ve got to bring five, and if you can’t get there with five you’ve got to bring six. That’s my philosophy (on pressure).

Ejiro Evero, The Denver Post

Evero had success with his defense in Denver, but the team couldn’t win more than five games because of the horrible offense. The defensive unit ranked ninth in EPA/play, tenth in DVOA, and third in yards per play given up — the total numbers were skewed by the putrid offense. In addition, the defense ranked fourth in three-and-out percentage and second in third-down success rate.

Evero also helped Patrick Surtain to become an elite cornerback. The Vikings need someone to develop the young defensive backs Andrew Booth and Akayleb Evans — and another potential rookie addition.

Grim Injury News for Vikings CB
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Evero’s scheme flexibility and experience with great defensive minds will also help him in the future.

In his first year as the Broncos defensive coordinator, Ejiro Evero has no shortage of influences to draw from as he attempts to re-brand the 3-4 scheme Denver ran under Vic Fangio the past three seasons.

Evero has coached under the father of the Tampa 2 defense (Monte Kiffin), a co-founder of the zone blitz (Dom Capers) and Denver’s last defensive guru (Fangio), plus modern defensive innovators such as Raheem Morris, whom Evero won the Super Bowl with this past season with the Rams.

The Denver Post, February 2022

Evero’s leadership has been praised by everyone who he worked with. That reputation earned him head coaching interviews. He is still in the race for the job in Indianapolis, where he was one of six candidates that had a second interview, and in Arizona, where he interviewed.

I’m just so thankful for him and his leadership. I’ve learned so much from him, both on and off the field. Selflessly, I would really hope he gets that job (as a head coach). Obviously, it would be great if it was here, but for him to get that opportunity somewhere, I think he is more than deserving of it. He is just a tremendous leader.

Broncos safety Justin Simmons

If he can’t land one of the jobs, the Vikings should set an interview with Evero and make his hire as new defensive coordinator a priority. A young defensive mind with scheme flexibility, so he can build the defense to the strength of his players — with great leadership — is the perfect candidate to revamp the Vikings’ defense.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt