Can Brian Flores Flourish in Year 2?

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.

When the offseason coaching cycle kicked off, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that another organization would poach Brian Flores as a head coaching candidate. Fortunately for the Minnesota Vikings, he appears destined to return for a second season as the defensive coordinator. How much further can he climb in year two?

Can Brian Flores Flourish in Year 2?

Despite the Vikings putting up an impressive 13-4 record during Kevin O’Connell’s first season as a head coach, there was a very clear weakness. Ed Donatell’s defense was not good, and the coordinator was even worse at putting his personnel in positions to succeed. A change was never made at the position, but the offseason brought a new opportunity to get it right.

Flores Flourish
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Considering what Brian Flores did in year one with Minnesota, it’s hard to suggest that O’Connell and the organization did anything less than crush a home run with the hiring. Flores brought his swarming style to the Vikings, and players were flying all around the field on the defensive side of the ball. Danielle Hunter had a season worthy of Defensive Player of the Year consideration, and plenty of other talent saw substantial growth under his leadership.

Change should be expected throughout the roster this offseason; after all, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has been calling this a competitive rebuild for some time now. That said, finding a way to build consistency under Flores is an absolute must, and would go a long way towards allowing the Vikings to keep a dropoff at bay.

Defender Still Listed
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Danielle Hunter is seeking a payday in free agency, and the hope would be that Minnesota values his presence to make them the figurehead of their pass rush. Ivan Pace Jr. will be back for his second season, and after emerging as a leader despite going undrafted, he will again be expected to quarterback Flores’ unit. Harrison Smith could opt to hang up his cleats, but the tandem of Cam Bynum and Josh Mettellus have created high-quality options at the safety position.

Should a few key playmakers not return in 2024 for Minnesota, Flores will be tasked to do more with less, but the results showed just how important his impact is during year one. As he continues to build a level of rapport with the players in front of him and establishes a greater voice within the building, his influence on the field will only continue to grow.

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Getting the head coaching hire right after Mike Zimmer was sent packing remained vital to the path forward. Replacing Donatell with someone who was a big step forward was necessary, and it’s evident the organization accomplished that. Being able to keep him for at least another season is a great reality, and now we’ll have the opportunity to see what leaps forward can happen in 2024.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.