Vikings Employ 2 Elite Coordinators

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Last year, the NFL Players Association released the rankings of NFL franchises after having the players grade theirs. The Minnesota Vikings landed at the top of all 32 organizations with a great atmosphere and a fantastic infrastructure. Free agent addition Byron Murphy even took a shot at his old franchise that was listed close to the bottom after his arrival.

Vikings Employ 2 Elite Coordinators

Vikings Employ 2 Elite Coordinators
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That ranking and an excellent infrastructure can lure players to the organization, and a similar pull effect has the employment of good coordinators. According to the latest NFLPA poll, the Vikings have two of the best. Brian Flores ranks fourth among defensive coordinators, and Matt Daniels third among the 32 special teams coordinators:

NFL players were asked to rate their offensive, defensive and/or special teams coordinators in conjunction with the second annual NFLPA Player Team Report Card project, an anonymous, comprehensive player survey conducted among each team during NFLPA visits last fall. These coordinators received the highest average rating from players on their clubs, based on survey results collected from players on each team. The NFLPA is only publishing the Top 5 coordinators in each category to highlight and focus on the positive impact coaches can have on players across the league. We also want to ensure that players’ opinions are heard and accounted for by clubs ahead of the next hiring cycle. 

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It is another endorsement for defensive coordinator Flores, who was asked to overhaul a struggling Minnesota defense. With some personnel changes, although not all of them for the better (Za’Darius Smith’s and Dalvin Tomlinson’s departure), he indeed had some success by installing his scheme, a plan that uses blitzes in an abnormal frequency but also has a heavy tendency to drop eight players into coverage. Those two opposite approaches are supposed to confuse quarterbacks, and it sure worked for a while, guiding his defensive unit into the top ten in numerous statistics.

In recent weeks, however, opponents have apparently solved his gameplans, and with 90 points allowed in the last three games following a shutout, his group dropped into the average range in EPA/Play, and points and yards allowed. A bunch of injuries to some key players also hurt his stock.

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In addition to the improving numbers, the players have always spoken highly about him. Jordan Hicks, Josh Metellus, and Camryn Bynum are three players who he helped to have career years by playing them to their strengths rather than trying them to fit his scheme.

Flores has been a hot candidate for a head coaching job ever since the Dolphins dismissed him two years ago, and he is looking for another chance. However, because it would be his second one and chances are limited, he will be careful to join the right team at the right time, increasing the likelihood of him staying another year.

Matt Daniels
Dec 1, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Rams assistant special teams coach Matt Daniels. © Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

Special teams coordinator Daniels always shares his good mood when he steps in front of the media for his weekly press conferences. Unforgettable is his monologue about Jalen Reagor after his acquisition.

While special teams are always hard to evaluate, his group has done a decent job in 2023. The punt coverage unit led by gunner Najee Thompson is fantastic. The rookie struggled earlier in the year to finish his tackles, but in the last few weeks, he has made some splashy plays, including one in which he threw a blocker at the returner in a clutch moment, and he caused another fumble last week versus the Packers.

Kicker Greg Joseph is statistically one of the worst kickers in football, but since Daniels’ arrival, he has turned into Justin Tucker in clutch moments. Long snapper Andrew DePaola has become a two-time Pro Bowler under his oversight.

He is only 34 and could be a rising star in the coaching ranks in the upcoming seasons.

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