Brian Flores Will Juice Up Vikings’ Scheme, Test O’Connell’s Culture

AP Photo: Keith Srakocic

The Minnesota Vikings needed a big change on the defensive side of the football for the 2023-24 season. Last year, head coach Kevin O’Connell grew tired with defensive coordinator, Ed Donatell’s apathetic pre-snap looks and off coverage two-safety shell scheme. KOC made it clear, even during the season, that he coveted something much more aggressive scheme on defense.

So that’s exactly what he went out and got by hiring former Miami Dolphins head coach and longtime Patriots assistant, Brian Flores, as the Vikings’ new defensive coordinator. Flores brings one of the most bold and blitz-happy (mostly man-to-man) defensive schemes of any candidate being considered. A complete 180-degree turnaround from what they deployed in 2022-23.

Donatell never blitzed and sat back in off-man zone coverages for the majority of snaps. Pre-snap movement was minimal, sometimes non-existent. Flores, on the other hand, plays a lot of man coverage and loves to walk guys around pre-snap, threatening different blitzes that may or may not engage.

Quarterbacks and offensive linemen have to respect all of the possible rushers, too. Because Flores has shown his willingness and propensity to brings extra guys. This puts a lot of pressure on opposing offenses to figure out where these blitzes are going to come from or if they will come at all. What they’re seeing pre-snap is not going to be what unfolds once the play clock shuts off.

Below is a quick video breaking down how Flores’ defense confuses a quarterback and offensive line. For a more in-depth dive, you can watch this 10-minute video on YouTube.

Brian Flores Culture Shock

The hiring of Brian Flores won’t just flip the script on the Vikings when it comes to defensive scheme and on-field mentality. He brings a big personality and beefed up resume to the coaching staff. Flores demands perfection from his players and respect from those he works with/for.

A Bill Belichick protege, Flores is soft spoken during interviews but that’s not the case when he roams the sideline. Nor is it his reputation in the locker room or out on the practice field. Around the league, the 41-year-old Brooklyn native is known for his high expectations and bold coaching strategies. Here’s what Steelers safety, Terrell Edmunds, had to say about Brian Flores, the coach.

“He’s a bulldog,” strong safety Terrell Edmunds said. “You can tell by just the way he talks that he has a military mentality and wants everything to be on point and not letting anybody slack off. We need that. We need that in the back end, we need that with the linebackers for the communication.”

Quote via The Athletic

Flores just has a physical presence about him that oozes intensity. It’s in his eyes, I think. You’d probably be safer gazing into the stare of Scott Summers (Cyclops). Flores isn’t afraid of using his intimidating presence to coach up players and bully refs… or opposing players, maybe.

Flores vs NFL/Dolphins

After being fired by the Dolphins, after three seasons as their head coach, Brian Flores even took on the NFL, filing a lawsuit that claimed he was fired for discriminatory reasons, based on his skin color. That lawsuit is very much active.

Flores has interviewed for multiple head coaching jobs, since he was sent packing by Miami, and he’s yet to get another shot. But that’s clearly his end goal. He was interviewed by the Arizona Cardinals for their vacant head coaching position, eventually turning down a second interview to take the Vikings’ defensive coordinator job.

Flores + O’Connell

Not only will Brian Flores challenge players and opposing offenses in ways Ed Donatell refused to do, but he is sure to bring a much different vibe to the atmosphere Kevin O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah have cultivated at TCO Performance Center in Eagan.

Since those two were hired, they’ve preached a sense of togetherness and coddling of players that Mike Zimmer refused to allow. Flores, obviously, falls on the opposite side of that spectrum temperament spectrum.

O’Connell and Flores have experience together from their days in New England, when KOC was a young quarterback, but that’s no guarantee they’ll make great teammates now. There’s no doubt, however, that the Minnesota Vikings defense will improve under Brian Flores. Mostly because they can’t get much worse than what they were under Donatell.

And like Chuck Modi tweeted above, you have to respect Kevin O’Connell’s willingness to step outside his comfort zone on this hire. Some added intensity and leadership inside this organization could be just what they need to take that next step forward.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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