'Aggressive by nature': Vikings introduce Brian Flores as defensive coordinator
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Two things have always stayed consistent with Brian Flores since he started coaching in the NFL in 2008: He likes to be aggressive, and he goes with his gut in most situations.
That vision is shared by Kevin O’Connell, and it was among the primary reasons he considered Flores his top target to revamp the Minnesota Vikings’ defense. Flores was introduced as the Vikings’ new defensive coordinator on Wednesday at TCO Performance Center, and spent about a half hour talking about his coaching, family and philosophies.
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Some of the steps for Flores getting to Minnesota had little to do with football. His now 6-year-old daughter took her first steps at U.S. Bank Stadium when Flores was with the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII. His 10 and 9-year old sons said, "It was Minnesota, and Minnesota only."
"They didn’t care about any of the other opportunities. They’re big Justin Jefferson fans, so when we accepted the position, there was a lot of griddying going on in my house," Flores joked.
O’Connell knew something had to change. The Vikings won 13 games and a division title despite being No. 31 in the NFL in total defense, and No. 30 in points allowed. In the first season under Ed Donatell’s 3-4 defense, they gave up at least 400 yards in five straight games, and allowed Daniel Jones to lead the Giants to a Wild Card Playoff win at U.S. Bank Stadium. A better defense, and the Vikings likely make a deeper playoff run.
O’Connell also had to fend off the head coaching opening in Arizona, and the Denver defensive coordinator opening to get Flores to Minnesota.
"He’s somebody that I targeted immediately. One of the first people that I reached out to in hopes of getting the opportunity to speak with him and knowing the possibilities he had, I knew it would be very competitive to get Brian here," O’Connell said. "Nobody better to bring here as we continue to chase that championship standard."
When Flores finished meeting with O’Connell, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and other Vikings’ coaches, he stepped out to call his wife. His gut told him Minnesota was the place to go. He had a shared vision with O’Connell, and they were in alignment.
He wants his defense to have fun, play together and be smart but also physical. They’ll also be more aggressive, they’ll blitz, something the Vikings didn’t do enough of under Donatell. How much? We’ll have to wait until September to find out.
"So you want all the secrets right now?" Flores joked. "I’m aggressive by nature, that’s something that I believe in. I like to be aggressive, not reckless. There’s a method to the madness, there’s a rhyme and reason... It’s vital to championship football."
"Time and time again, characteristics of not only our team, buy my personality and how I want our team to be coached just kept coming out in a real organic, natural way. That was a real positive thing for me." O’Connell said.
It’s not all perfect with Flores. He’s the center of an ongoing lawsuit against the NFL involving the Rooney Rule going back to last season. He was interviewing for head coaching jobs and found out via text message before talking with the Giants that the job was going to Brian Daboll.
He was asked about the lawsuit on Wednesday.
"I understand the question, I do. I’m not going to dive too deep into it, it’s ongoing," Flores said. "Diversity is really important to me as well, I’m not going to run away from that. When I walk in this building, you see diversity across the board. That’s exciting. I’m where my feet are."
Flores may only be 41 years old, but he already has a proven pedigree. He spent 11 seasons under Bill Belichick, won three Super Bowls with the Patriots and was a champion as a first-time defensive play-caller. That defense improved from 17th to seventh in passer rating. In his first season as linebackers’ coach with the Patriots, they led the NFL in scoring defense at 15.6 points per game.
He was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins for three seasons before spending last year as a defensive assistant in Pittsburgh. He’s one of the most well-respected names in the NFL, and he’s now the leader of the Vikings’ defense.
"This was the place for me and my family, this was the right opportunity. I just felt like this was a great opportunity for growth," Flores said.
So will it be a 3-4 or 4-3 defense in 2023?
"Who are we playing? It’s game plan specific, but it’s 3-4," Flores said with a smirk.