Adding Brian Flores Is Good Start, but Vikings Need Defensive Overhaul

Well, I know Minnesota Vikings fans are upset about the way the 2022 season ended, especially because they know things were going so well on the offensive side of the ball.

On the defensive side of the ball, I think people are very frustrated. They were near the bottom of the league in most of the important categories: yards per game, points per game, yards per play, passing yards allowed per game and per play.

Much of the blame was placed on defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, who was fired last month after just one season in Minneapolis. And as a result, Vikings fans are excited that Brian Flores was been hired as the new defensive coordinator.

Flores Brings Defensive Background

Flores is a guy who played linebacker at Boston College under Tom O’Brien, a hard-nosed defensive guy himself. And after college, he spent a lot of time with the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick. He quickly moved up through that defensive staff, and in 2019, he was chosen as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins.

One thing that has stayed consistent for Flores is that he likes to focus on pressure. That is the one aspect of the defense that frustrated Vikings fans more than anything else last season — there wasn’t enough pressure. The defense was playing too soft in a lot of situations.

With Flores’ commitment to pressure, Vikings fans have very good reason to be excited about Kevin O’Connell adding him to the coaching staff.

More Personnel Moves Needed

The way he ran his scheme, Donatell deserves some of the blame for how the season went. But there were also some personnel issues on the defensive side of the ball. Look at the linebacker position, especially Eric Kendricks. He’s a veteran you thought you could count on, but he really struggled in pass coverage this past year.

Cornerback is part of the reason Donatell didn’t really want to bring a lot of pressure and didn’t want to use a lot of man-to-man defense last year. He didn’t feel he had the players there.

Patrick Peterson has been one of the best cornerbacks in the league for a long time, but I think he certainly has aged quite a bit. Although his play improved throughout the course of the season, he’s not the kind of guy you’re going to want to line up in man-to-man coverage all day long. Cameron Dantzler had his shining moments but could not stay healthy.

At the safety position, Harrison Smith has a really big cap number; they’re going to be looking at that. And Lewis Cine got injured this past year. Hopefully, they’ll have him back.

You also have to look at the offensive side of the ball.

Adam Thielen has one of the highest cap hits ($19.87 million) of any wide receiver in the NFL, and is second on the team behind only Kirk Cousins. You have to take a look at that. You have to take a look at Cousins’ number ($36.25 million), you have to look at Dalvin Cook’s number ($14.1 million).

The bottom line, though, is that the defense is going to need some improvement. You have to look at some of the contracts, even with Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter, and decide whether you want to keep these players.

Lots of Work Ahead

The Vikings, as of right now, are around $23 million over the cap (only the Buccaneers and Saints are worse), so they’re going to have to make some decisions very quickly.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah came in last year as the general manager, and everybody was excited about that. But now he’s going to have to earn his pay. The Vikings are going to need some new personnel on the defensive side of the ball, and that might mean some defensive players are going to be gone or have their contracts renegotiated. It also means some players on the offensive side of the ball may have to have their numbers reduced or cut entirely to allow the Vikings the space under the cap to do what they need to do.

The draft is a big part of it, too. I think, like last year going with Cine, they’ll pick on the defensive side of the ball. They’ll probably even go in the secondary again, but I’m guessing this time it will be a cornerback.


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