MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings have found their defensive coordinator.
Brian Flores, who worked as defensive assistant and linebackers coach last season for the Pittsburgh Steelers, has been hired to help rebuild a unit that finished near the bottom of the league. The team confirmed the hiring Monday.
Flores, who interviewed with the Vikings on Jan. 26, will take over a defense that allowed the second-most total yards of any team in the NFL, while surrendering 25.1 points per game, tied for third-worst in the league.
Minnesota cut ties with its former defensive coordinator Ed Donatell just days after the Vikings were eliminated from the playoffs by the New York Giants. In that game, the Giants amassed more than 400 yards on their way to defeating the Vikings 31-24.
The Steelers were one of the top rushing defenses in the NFL, while also finishing in the top 10 in points allowed despite star edge rusher T.J Watt missing almost half the season due to injury. Against the pass, Pittsburgh held opponents to the sixth-lowest completion percentage (61.3%) in the league.
Prior to joining the Steelers' coaching staff, Flores spent three seasons as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Weeks later, Flores filed a class action lawsuit against the NFL and three teams — the Dolphins, Giants and Denver Broncos — alleging racial discrimination.
The lawsuit alleges that the owner of the Dolphins offered to pay Flores $100,000 per game to lose on purpose to secure a better draft pick. Also in the suit, Flores accuses the New York Giants of only interviewing him to meet the team's Rooney Rule requirement. According to the lawsuit, Flores says the Giants had no intention of hiring him, rather that they were interviewing him because the league's Rooney Rule requires all teams interview a minority coaching candidate.
The suit included what appears to be a text conversation between Flores and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, where Belichick appears to say that the Giants had already made their decision days before Flores was scheduled to interview for the job. Flores spent several years as a scout and position coach on Belichick's staff in New England. During his time in New England, current Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell was a backup quarterback for the Patriots.
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