The Minnesota Vikings have named Brian Flores defensive coordinator. Flores spent the 2022 season as the senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers and brings almost two decades of NFL experience to Head Coach Kevin O’Connell’s staff.
In one season with Pittsburgh, Flores led a defense that gave up just seven rushing touchdowns, which tied with New England for the fewest allowed in the NFL in 2022. Pittsburgh’s opponents also had the league’s sixth-lowest completion percentage (61.3%). Under Flores’ guidance, linebacker Alex Highsmith tallied a career-high 14.5 sacks, the sixth-most in the NFL, and tied for the league lead with five forced fumbles. Flores was instrumental in helping All-Pro outside linebacker T.J. Watt record 39 tackles, 5.5 sacks and five passes defensed in only 10 games played, leading him to his fifth-consecutive Pro Bowl selection. With Watt in the lineup in 2022, Pittsburgh posted an 8-2 record, allowed only 16.9 points per game, and registered 32 sacks and 18 takeaways.
Prior to his time with Pittsburgh, Flores served as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 2019-21. Flores helped the Dolphins post back-to-back winning seasons (2020-21) for the first time since 2002-03. In 2021, Miami became the first team in NFL history to snap a seven-game losing streak with a seven-game winning streak. Flores led the Dolphins to a 10-6 record in 2020, marking only the second time the franchise has won 10 games in a season over the past decade. Miami’s defense finished sixth in the NFL that season, allowing 21.1 points per game and led the league with 29 takeaways. Cornerback Xavien Howard led the league with 10 interceptions and earned Associated Press First Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors.
Flores got his start in the NFL with the New England Patriots, coaching in all three phases of the game – offense, defense and special teams – and helped the franchise win four Super Bowls – XXXIX, XLIX, LI and LIII. He spent eight seasons (2011-18) coaching defense and seven (2012-18) as a position coach. The Patriots advanced to the AFC Championship game in all seven seasons with Flores as a position coach and won three of the club’s four Super Bowl Appearances.
In 2018, Flores helped New England win Super Bowl LIII in his first season as the defensive play-caller. Under his direction, the defense went from 17th to seventh in the league in passer rating, holding opponents to a 85.4 rating. New England was tied for fifth in the NFL with 28 takeaways and tied for third with 18 interceptions on the season, improving from 25th and 18th in those categories, respectively, in 2017.
Flores spent three seasons (2016-18) as the Patriots linebackers coach. In his first season in the role in 2016, New England had the NFL’s best scoring defense, only allowing 15.6 points per game. As a safeties coach from 2012-15, Flores helped safety Devin McCourty earn AP Second Team All-Pro honors in 2013. Flores joined the Patriots as a scouting assistant in 2004 and was promoted to pro scout in 2006. He then moved into coaching as a coaching assistant from 2008-09, where he crossed paths with O’Connell, who played quarterback for the club in 2008.
The Brooklyn, New York, native graduated from Boston College, where he played linebacker for four years, with a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in administrative studies. He and his wife, Jennifer, have two sons, Miles and Max, and a daughter, Liliana.
(info and phot courtesy of Vikings)