Just after one of their preferred targets took a defensive coordinator job elsewhere, the Vikings have pivoted to their other finalist. Minnesota is hiring Brian Flores as their DC, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). The team has since announced the move.
Flores, 41, had been on the radar for a number of positions in this year’s hiring cycle, including both coordinator and head coaching opportunities. One of the former was with the Vikings, who moved on from Ed Donatell following a disappointing 2022 season for his unit. The team’s search for his replacement led them to a relatively short list of candidates, including former Broncos DC Ejiro Evero.
Minnesota was closely linked to Evero both before and after Denver let him out of his contract to move on to other opportunities. That opened the door to an interview with the Vikings, but the Panthers moved very quickly and hired him Sunday. That move was highly lauded for Frank Reich and his new staff in Charlotte, but it left Minnesota with only one of its two reported favorites available. It thus comes as little surprise that the next major coaching domino has fallen so soon after Evero found his new employer.
Flores spent 2022 as the Steelers’ linebackers coach and an experienced voice on Mike Tomlin‘s staff. Prior to that, he was the head coach of the Dolphins, a tenure which saw him help guide the team to consecutive winning seasons but be let go amidst tension with the front office. He is one of the plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit against the NFL and many of its teams alleging racial discrimination in its hiring practices.
After his one-year posting as a positional coach, the longtime Patriots staffer drew considerable interest this offseason, pointing to at least a coordinator position coming his way. Arizona — one of two teams yet to hire their new head coach in 2023 — had a second interview with Flores lined up for later this week, making him one of three finalists for that job. With his name now off that list, the Cardinals appear set to go with either Lou Anarumo or Mike Kafka as their next HC.
The Broncos, meanwhile, were said to be down to two finalists for Evero’s replacement after it was learned he would not be retained by new head coach Sean Payton. Flores was one of them, and Sean Desai the other. The latter should now be considered the favorite to join Payton in the Mile High city, as Flores prepares for the newest chapter of his coaching career.
The Vikings ranked near the bottom of the league in a number of defensive categories in 2022, including points and yards allowed (28th and 31st, respectively). Flores will thus face an uphill battle to lead the unit to an improved performance in 2023, though the team’s playoff berth under head coach Kevin O’Connell suggests even a small step forward could be enough to turn them into contenders.