Vikings Coach Already a Hot Commodity for Next Carousel

from National
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The NFL’s annual January-February coaching carousel concluded last week after the Washington Commanders hired Dan Quinn from the rival Dallas Cowboys. Former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald joined the Seattle Seahaws as the new head coach, too.

Vikings Coach Already a Hot Commodity for Next Carousel

The carousel conclusion also illuminated the Minnesota Vikings’ first offseason domino revelation: Defensive coordinator Brian Flores will not bolt for a head coaching gig, barring something incredibly unforeseen.

Coach Already a Hot
Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores takes over the team’s defense at an introductory press conference on February 15th, 2023, in Eagan, Minnesota.

And while many believed Flores could fetch head coaching interest and interview this cycle — he transformed the NFL’s ninth-worst defense per DVOA in 2022 to the 11th-best in 2024 — next year could be when Flores makes the leap.

No stranger to the head coaching spot — Flores was in charge of the Miami Dolphins from 2019 to 2021 before a controversial split ended the relationship — the Vikings’ defensive bossman is already on a shortlist for 2024 head coaching candidates, courtesy of CBS Sports.

Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports.

“He didn’t generate much, if any, interest as a head coach despite stellar work as Minnesota’s defensive chief in 2023. There may be lingering concerns from his polarizing time with — and after — the Dolphins. But another big year with the Vikings would bolster his resume,” CBS SportsCody Benjamin wrote this week.

Also on the list were the usual suspects: Mike Vrabel, Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll, and Ben Johnson, among others. Flores checked in at No. 9 of Edwards’ list of 10.

Flores Flourish
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota hired Flores one year ago after one season of Ed Donatell’s leadership. Flores improved the defense immediately, so his return to the Vikings in 2024 wasn’t always certain. The Vikings’ defense played absolutely phenomenally between Weeks 4 through 14, ranking tops in the league per EPA/Play, a metric adjudicating expected points added. As Flores’ group ascended the NFL, folks took notice and began to whisper that he could easily be a one-hit-wonder for the Vikings.

So, Vikings fans cherished what they had at the moment and bided time to determine if Flores would return to the head coaching ranks in 2024. The rumor mill suggested Flores would only jump at the big job if a sturdy franchise had an HC opening, as he appeared to experience a raw deal with the Miami Dolphins after the 2021 season ended.

Near the end of 2023, the Flores defense tapered off, beginning in the 4th Quarter of a game at the Cincinnati Bengals. It never recovered. The Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers took turns battering Minnesota’s defense, and the damage worked to the tune of the Vikings missing the postseason. Perhaps the defensive dip weakened Flores’ shine as a head coach.

Could Lose Brian Flores
Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Flores was hired in February 2023 to take over for Ed Donatel after Minnesota finished 30th in points allowed.

Should Flores accept a promotion elsewhere next year, Minnesota will receive a compensatory draft pick because of his departure. And CBS Sports already believes that’s a possibility.

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by