Brian Flores Hired as New Defensive Coordinator for Minnesota Vikings

Brian Flores is headed to the Midwest.

The 41-year-old Honduran American football coach has been hired as the new defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings, ending a monthlong search to replace the fired Ed Donatell.

Brian Flores,  Flores spent last season as the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach after being fired as head coach by the Miami Dolphins following the 2021 season.

He’ll take over a defense that finished No. 31 in the NFL in yards allowed and is on the cusp of a significant personnel overhaul. He has a yearslong relationship with Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell, who was drafted by the New England Patriots as a quarterback in 2008 when Flores was a special teams assistant there.

After firing Donatell on January 19, the Vikings quickly interviewed four candidates for the job: Ryan Nielsen, Sean Desai, Mike Pettine and Flores. Nielsen took the Atlanta Falcons‘ defensive coordinator job and Desai removed his name from consideration, but sources told ESPN all along that then-Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero was their top candidate.

Evero and O’Connell spent two years on the Los Angeles Rams‘ coaching staff in 2020 and 2021, and O’Connell hoped to reunite in 2023. But Sunday, one day after the Broncos released Evero from his contract, he agreed to terms with the Carolina Panthers to be their defensive coordinator without taking an interview with the Vikings.

On Monday, the Vikings moved on to Flores, who also was a finalist for the Arizona Cardinals‘ open head-coaching job.

Flores joins the Vikings one year after suing the NFL and three teams — the Dolphins, Denver Broncos and New York Giants — alleging discrimination regarding his interview processes with Denver and New York and his firing by Miami.

Longtime NFL assistants Steve Wilks and Ray Horton later joined the suit, which the NFL is attempting to move to arbitration. Flores also alleged the Dolphins tried to incentivize him to lose games and participate in illegal tampering; the league disciplined the Dolphins last summer for tampering violations of “unprecedented scope and severity,” according to commissioner Roger Goodell.

It was not immediately clear how Flores’ arrival would affect the scheme that O’Connell originally hired Donatell to install. Flores’ defense in Miami was known for heavy blitzing — it had the NFL’s fourth-highest blitz rate from 2019 to 2021 — and man-to-man coverage in the secondary, two characteristics the Vikings largely stayed away from under Donatell.

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