Defensive coordinator Brian Flores has arrived in Minnesota with the goal of transforming the Vikings’ 31st-ranked defense from a liability to a weapon.
One way to do so: Be more aggressive. Flores told reporters Wednesday he is “aggressive by nature,” and he isn’t afraid to dial up the pressure in order to get the job done, which will include implementing cover-zero blitzes.
“I think zero gives people some issues,” Flores said. “I think if you’re willing to, give a blitz-zero presentation and then send them, obviously offensively, they’ve got to prepare for it and have some answers for it. And then it becomes a cat-and-mouse game. Is it zero, is it not zero?
“Any way you slice it, you’ve got to be ready for it. So, that’s part of the philosophy or the thought process. Maybe I’ll try to come up with a different way of presenting it. But that’s the game.”
Flores’ comments have to be music to Vikings fans’ ears after going through a season in which Minnesota finished 13-4 and won the NFC North, but did so while dragging along the league’s second-worst defense in terms of yards allowed per game. The Vikings didn’t attempt to manufacture pressure very much under former coordinator Ed Donatell, finishing 25th in blitz rate, per Next Gen Stats, and watching opposing offenses benefit.
Flores aims to change that by sending more rushers with the hope it creates issues for opposing offenses. It’s not as simple as sitting back and calling more blitzes, he said, and his defense’s usage of manufactured pressure will at least somewhat depend on personnel. But Flores and coach Kevin O’Connell are certainly on the same page when it comes to increasing the defense’s aggression.
Flores’ name has been in the news cycle for much of the last year after he was unceremoniously fired by the Dolphins and filed a lawsuit against multiple NFL parties. He eventually attracted a number of interviews for defensive coordinator openings around the NFL in early 2023, and even met with the Cardinals to discuss potentially joining the club as their head coach. That job ended up going to Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, but Flores is content in Minneapolis.
“I’m where my feet are,” Flores said, via the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson. “I’m very excited to be here. … I’m happy here in Minnesota, I really am.”
Flores might end up earning another shot at a head-coaching job, but for now, his focus is on the Vikings. Turning Minnesota’s defense into a stifling group won’t be a simple task, but he’s not taking over a unit with a bare cupboard, either. Minnesota boasts standouts like Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks and Za’Darius Smith, which will at least give Flores some legitimate front-seven defenders capable of generating pressure.
The Vikings still have some questions to answer on the back end of their defense, and an entire offseason to do so. Flores is ready to get to work.