Vikings DC Candidate Got Hired by Someone Else

Vikings Blasted for Not
Dec 23, 2018; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Rams safeties coach Ejiro Evero against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings are still in the midst of their search for a defensive coordinator after parting ways with 2022 DC Ed Donatell after the first-round playoff exit. Minnesota’s leadership interviewed a few candidates, but now the third one is no longer available for the Vikings.

From the four interviews, only two are still available. A fifth candidate just got hired by another team before the Vikings could get a hold of him.

Vikings DC Candidate Got Hired by Someone Else

The Minnesota Vikings started their search by requesting interviews with then-Saints’ co-defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen. After an interview with him, Nielsen took the same job in Atlanta. He’s now the Falcon’s defensive coordinator.

Vikings DC Candidate Hired by Someone Else
Jul 29, 2021; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai walks on the field during a Chicago Bears training camp session at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

The second candidate was Sean Desai, but he withdrew his name from consideration. The former Seahawks associate head coach might join Sean Payton’s coaching staff in Denver. Payton blocked the Vikings from interviewing the former Broncos DC Ejiro Evero.

However, Denver released him, and he was free to go wherever he wanted. Just a day later, Evero is joining the staff in Carolina of newly hired Frank Reich, the former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

Unfortunately for the Vikings, that takes away the third of their five choices. The purple team has interviewed two more coaches for the job opening. One was a fan favorite, Brain Flores.

He was the head coach in Miami and turned the Dolphins’ organization around into a respectable team, and he is one of the most respected defensive coaches in the business. Flores was a Steelers linebackers coach in 2022, a job he was clearly overqualified for.

Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine during practice at Clarke Hinkle Field on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Ashwaubenon, Wis. © Adam Wesley/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wis.

The final option is Mike Pettine. He was the Vikings’ assistant head coach. His hire would be uninspiring, especially considering that he was on the coaching staff in 2022. If he had a solution to fix the defense, he would’ve done that already.

The top candidate for the job is considered to be Flores. NFL insider Ian Rapoport tweeted: “Minnesota had two top candidates for DC — Evero and Brian Flores. They are now in a strong position for Flores.”

Flores was the top candidate for many before the name Evero surfaced. He is a great option.

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.

The Vikings Must Be Waiting
Jan 9, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores watches from the sideline during the second quarter against the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Flores would be an excellent homerun hire. However, he is also in consideration for the Broncos’ defensive coordinator job and the head coaching position in Arizona, where he will have a second interview.

If he gets one of those two jobs, the Vikings have a big problem. The franchise has to make sure to get the former head coach for the vacant position.

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