Gut Instinct Led New Leader to Vikings

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The Minnesota Vikings debuted new defensive coordinator Brian Flores on Wednesday at a press conference, and the new guy wasn’t afraid to reveal his thought pattern on various matters.

The franchise moved on from 2022 defense coordinator Ed Donatell four days after the Vikings lost at home to the New York Giants in the Wildcard Round of the playoffs. Minnesota could not stop a Giants offense led by Daniel Jones, and that same New York team was shellacked one week later at the Philadelphia Eagles. Nothing about the Vikings 2022 playoff experience was a good look for Minnesota, so the franchise changed horses on defense.

Gut Instinct Led New Leader to Vikings

About a week and a half ago, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell landed on Flores as the next guy, and O’Connell was elated Wednesday to introduce the former Miami Dolphins head coach to the media and fans.

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

You can watch the full press conference here.

Flores had options during the recent NFL coaching carousel, named a defacto finalist for the Arizona Cardinals HC gig that was filled Tuesday by former Vikings assistant defensive back coach Jonathan Gannon. But his instinct propelled him to withdraw his name from Arizona’s consideration.

Reporters asked Flores why he chose the Vikings defensive coordinator gig over the Cardinals top job, and he replied, “My gut.”

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Flores actually leaned into his “gut” twice during the press conference when media members asked about his affinity for blitzing quarterbacks. He stated he relies on gut instinct for the when of putting heat on opposing quarterbacks.

Folks speculated Flores didn’t want the Cardinals job because of “Kyler Murray and his moods,” and it is unclear if that theory affected the gut talk. Perhaps his gut told him to veer from Murray and the Cardinals; maybe he just really liked the Vikings.

Don't Underrate Vikings Super Bowl Chances in 2023
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Back in 2008, the New England Patriots hired Flores to its official coaching staff after four years of work as a scout. And during that same 2008 NFL Draft, New England drafted a young quarterback from San Diego State University named Kevin O’Connell. So, this pairing in Minnesota is also a reunion of sorts, as Flores and O’Connell reminisced on their time with the Patriots at Wednesday’s press conference.

Flores remained in New England for a total of 11 seasons on the Patriots coaching staff, while O’Connell skedaddled in 2009 for excursions with the Detroit Lions and New York Jets. But the two assuredly crossed paths, with Flores as a special teams assistant and O’Connell as a QB3. Flores and O’Connell will now combine forces about 1,400 miles northwesterly of New England.

In trusting his gut, Flores called out the Vikings culture, too, “The seeds are here from a culture standpoint, from a camaraderie standpoint.”

He also stated his sons are fans of Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson, and “When I accepted the position, there was a lot of Griddying going on in my house.”

With Flores taking over defensive operations, the Vikings are considered the 19th-likeliest team to win the Super Bowl in 2023.

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,’ and The Doors (the band).

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