Brian Flores Picked Up a Side Gig…as a Coach

Brian Flores Picked Up a Side Gig…as a Coach

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Flores deserves to be an NFL head coach.

To be sure, snagging one of the 32 openings is difficult, but Flores is qualified to be in that elite crew. More than a few people have speculated that his absence is due to the lawsuit against the NFL, but Flores wasn’t willing to travel too far down that path after being asked about it while speaking to the media on Tuesday. What the Vikings’ DC did discuss is how sticking around in Minnesota has allowed him to spend more time with his family.

Vikings DC Brian Flores Enjoying His Time in Minnesota

Before getting ahead of himself, Brian Flores took time for his family.

The initial seconds of his press conference involved sending along a birthday shout out to one of his kids (while being sure to mention his other kids and their birthdays so that there wasn’t too much disappointment at home).

Sticking around in Minnesota has allowed Flores to spend more time with his family, largely because there has been less transition in his world (as he explains). After all, his 2021 was spent in Miami, his 2022 was spent in Pittsburgh, and his 2023 was spent in Minnesota. The 2024 offseason, of course, is also being spent in Minnesota since he’s approaching Year 2 as the Vikings’ DC.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago BearsOct 15, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores watches his team play against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

One of the benefits is that he’s getting the chance to coach his kids.

The question that prompted the coaching reflection was about Byron Murphy’s role in the defense. “It’s funny, I’m coaching, I’m coaching my sons,” Flores notes, “they’re ten and eleven. And you can teach them something in an individual drill, but once the live bullets start going, it’s just, ‘Hey, you got a down screen right here,’ you do it ten times, but once the live bullets, just standing there just waiting for a three pointer. And he makes a lot of them, so that’s good.”

Flores’ point is that he’s going to make a more deliberate effort to explain how individual skills and techniques apply to real game situations: “Kind of bridging the gap between the individual techniques and fundamentals and how they apply to the game.”

A bit later, Flores clarifies that he didn’t get a chance to interview for a vacant head coach opening. A positive within that disappointment is that he gets more time with his family: “I’m in a great spot, I’m very happy. And I’m excited to work with our guys right now and also coach my boys, as well.”

Contender Is DumbAug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Kevin O’Connell took over back in 2022. The offensive mastermind brought Ed Donatell in to be the defensive coordinator, which was a decision that ended up going poorly.

The defensive personnel in ’22 wasn’t without flaw and yet there was still some strong talent to lean on. Danielle Hunter, Za’Darius Smith, Josh Metellus, Harrison Smith, Harrison Phillips, Patrick Peterson, Eric Kendricks, and Jordan Hicks were all in town (among others). Even still, the Vikings finished in a tie for 30th in the NFL by allowing an average of 25.1 points against per game while finishing in 31st in yards by allowing close to 390 yards against per game.

In short order, Flores turned things around.

All of a sudden, the boring, drab defense of 2022 evolved into an all-or-nothing, ultra-aggressive defense in 2023. The blitz percentage climbed from just 18.9% of the time in 2022 to 51.5% of the time in 2023.

Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Ed Donatell looks on before a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The increased unpredictability and aggression paid off.

Gone were the days of being among the very worst defenses in the NFL. Yes, there were rough stretches, but the overall body of work represented a massive step forward. The Vikings finished at 13th in the NFL by allowing 21.3 points against per game. Similarly, the yards against took a step forward, coming in at 16th in the NFL by allowing an average of 333 per game.

Flores, in other words, has figured something out when it comes to coaching.

Questions Answered: Draft Another CB, Vikings Conservative Defense, Jets Point SpreadNov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings defense players celebrate after an interception by Vikings safety Harrison Smith. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

Other high points from his press conference came when he spoke about what allows Andrew Van Ginkel to be so versatile, his ongoing desire for more corners (sound familiar?), and pushing the defense’s various individuals to keep getting better.

Oh, and he highlighted a single word for his reaction to Harrison Smith sticking around: “Joy.”

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this piece.

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K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.

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