Vikings Complete Interview with Top DC Candidate

Oct 2, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers assistant coach Eddie Faulkner on the sidelines against the New York Jets during the fourth quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings have a job opening for the defensive coordinator position after firing Ed Donatell. He was the DC in 2022 but couldn’t make it past one season with the club.

In his lone year with the organization, Donatell’s defense ranked 31st in yards allowed and 30th in points allowed. His “bend but don’t break” approach worked fine when the team was opportunistic and could snatch some turnovers. Whenever that was not the case, the defense had no answer to stop opponents, resulting in at least 400 yards given up in ten of 18 games, two more than any other team in the league.

Vikings Complete Interview with Top DC Candidate

Vikings Complete Interview with Top Candidate for DC
Oct 31, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores looks on against the Buffalo Bills during the second half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings scheduled interviews with four different coaches:

While all four are intriguing candidates with different positives and negatives, Flores remains the favorite among fans of the purple team. On Thursday, the Vikings announced the completion of an interview with Brian Flores and have now interviewed all four candidates.

Flores is a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers under former Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin. He used to be the head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 2019 to 2021 and is possibly the most overqualified employee in the NFL in his current position. Flores has multiple interviews for defensive coordinator jobs lined up in addition to the head coaching gig in Arizona.

Brian Flores was fired after leading the Dolphins to two consecutive winning seasons. Syndication Palm Beach Post

The former head coach was a part of the New England Patriots coaching staff from 2008 to 2018. Interestingly, Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell was a backup quarterback on the same team in 2008. During that season, Flores was a special teams assistant.

After 15 years in the league in various positions in New England, Flores was hired as the new Miami Dolphins head coach in 2019 and led the team for three seasons. He could not lead the team to the postseason but to winning seasons in 2020 and 2021, the first consecutive winning seasons of the franchise since 2003, despite inheriting a bad team.

Some television shows suggested that the 2019 Dolphins may be the worst team ever, but Flores’ club managed to win five games and always played hard under his leadership.

Jun 9, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach Brian Flores (left) and offensive coordinator Matt Canada (right) participate in minicamp at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Most of the Vikings fans were annoyed by the lack of blitzes of the 2022 Vikings. The defense sat back and watched subpar quarterbacks like Mike White and Mac Jones slice up the defense. Both passers had over 300 passing yards. Of course, many blitzes don’t automatically equal a good defense, but it is a first step to making it a more respected unit.

Flores’ defensive coaching style is different than Donatell’s, possibly even the polar opposite. The 2022 Vikings blitzed the quarterback on 18.9% of his dropbacks, the ninth lowest in the NFL, while Flores’ 2021 Dolphins sent extra pressure on 39.6%, the second most in the league.

Even the Miami defense in his first season with suspect personnel, probably even worse than current Vikings, blitzed on 31.6%, the 14th most that year.

Vikings fans voice
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores before the start of the game against the New England Patriots during the NFL game at Hard Rock Stadium Sunday in Miami Gardens. © BILL INGRAM /THE PALM BEACH POST / USA TODAY NETWORK.

One negative aspect is that he would likely not be a long-term solution for the purple team, rather than someone who can fix the defense short term, as he will get another head coaching gig at some point. However, he is possibly the best candidate to fix the defense. If Flores gets the job, the Vikings must get an assistant coach ready to take over in case of Flores’ departure.

The hire of Flores would require another scheme change. Minnesota underwent one of those just one year ago after the departure of Mike Zimmer and changed the system to a Vic Fangio 3-4 scheme. Flores is running a 3-4 base defense as well, but he learned from Bill Belichick. Changes would be necessary, especially since the coverage looks different in his scheme.

The Vikings should try anything to land the popular name and have him do the necessary defensive rebuild.

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