Brian Flores is the Vikings’ new defensive coordinator.
The team finalized a deal with the former Dolphins head coach on Monday. Flores, who worked as the Steelers’ assistant head coach and linebackers coach in 2022, had emerged as one of the Vikings’ top two choices with former Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero.
The Broncos permitted Evero to talk to other teams on Saturday, and the Panthers hired him as their defensive coordinator on Sunday. On Monday afternoon, the Vikings completed a deal with Flores, a day before he was set to interview with the Broncos for their defensive coordinator opening.
Flores, who turns 42 this month, interviewed with the Vikings on Jan. 26, emerging as a strong candidate after the daylong session in Minnesota. Flores had been on the Patriots’ staff when Kevin O’Connell played there from 2008-09, and O’Connell had a strong impression of him from their time together in New England. In their interviews with four defensive coordinator candidates — Flores, Ryan Nielsen, Sean Desai and Mike Pettine — the Vikings asked for feedback on their 2022 scheme and ideas for what they could change. In Flores, they could get a different flavor of coverage.
After spending years in Bill Belichick’s man coverage schemes with the Patriots, he built his Dolphins defenses on a similar approach, though a Pro Football Focus study showed Miami’s units under Flores had one of the league’s most eclectic mixes of coverage.
The Dolphins went 24-25 in Flores’ three seasons as head coach, posting back-to-back winning seasons in 2020 and 2021 after a 5-11 record in 2019. Flores was fired after the 2021 season; shortly after he was fired, he filed a lawsuit alleging NFL teams had engaged in sham interviews with minority candidates. The suit also claimed Dolphins owner Stephen Ross had pressured Flores to lose games on purpose and recruit a prominent quarterback who was under contract with another team (reported by multiple outlets to be Tom Brady). The NFL revoked the Dolphins’ 2023 first-round pick after an investigation found them guilty of tampering.