Brian Flores is a brilliant man. He has been a head coach within the NFL, and he would love one other alternative to function the entrance man for an additional NFL franchise.
Flores can guarantee himself one other alternative to function an NFL head coach if he can flip across the Minnesota Vikings protection.
There have been few groups which have performed protection as badly because the Vikings have previously three years. Common supervisor Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell decided the scheme the Vikings utilized in 2022 underneath former defensive coordinator Ed Donatell was not adequate.
Bear in mind, they have been almost as unhealthy in 2020 and 2021. Three years of brutal defensive play is mainly an eon within the NFL. The Vikings interviewed Flores and decided he may instigate some enchancment.
They could be fooling themselves. Whereas Flores is aggressive and can institute a sequence of blitzes that the group by no means thought of final yr, the query is whether or not the defensive gamers are adequate.
The Vikings didn’t exit within the offseason and choose up a celebrity who may create havoc. The perfect newcomer is prone to be cornerback Byron Murphy, who’s clearly a positive cowl man and nonetheless ascending in his NFL profession.
However he isn’t going to intimidate opponents, and the most effective defenses are led by a participant who’s going to say his will and put worry into the hearts of an opponent.
The perfect participant on the Vikings protection is probably going Danielle Hunter, or a minimum of the Vikings suppose he’s. If they didn’t consider that, they might not have given him a $17 million contract this summer season. Hunter gave the impression to be on that monitor earlier in his profession when he was a Professional Bowl participant in 2018 and 2019. Hunter was a move dashing grasp in each of these years, as he registered 14.5 sacks in again to again years.
Some may point out that Hunter was a Professional Bowler final yr as effectively, however his 10.5 sacks have been nowhere close to as spectacular as his efficiency in his peak years. Hunter was an up-and-down participant final yr, and there have been video games the place he barely made an impression. The one constructive is that 7.5 of his 10.5 sacks got here in Week 8 and the video games that adopted.
Maybe he was discovering his sport within the first a part of the season, and he performed higher when the season reached its midpoint. In that case, that’s an indicator the 2023 season might be higher for Hunter.
However he isn’t going to strike worry into the hearts of his opponents. He has wonderful approach and velocity coming across the nook, however he isn’t going to pound opponents into submission. He isn’t Joe Greene, Bruce Smith, Reggie White, Lawrence Taylor, Charles Haley, Ray Lewis or Aaron Donald.
Nice defenses want a participant opponents worry.
At his greatest, Hunter is an effective and efficient participant, however he doesn’t have a imply streak. He isn’t on the sphere with the only real goal of punishing opponents.
Flores clearly is aware of this, and he’s instituting a brand new sport plan to get essentially the most out of his defensive gamers. He had a stage of success when he was a linebackers coach with the Patriots, however few gave him credit score as a result of he was working underneath Invoice Belichick.
As head coach of the Dolphins from 2019 by means of 2021, he had success. His aggressive scheme helped the Dolphins enhance defensively every of these years. They weren’t a fantastic defensive group in any of these years, however they have been center of the pack in 2021, which was much better than the 29th-ranked protection he inherited when he was employed.
Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell should not anticipating miracles from the protection. Nevertheless, if the Vikings can go from depressing to middle-of-the-pack on protection whereas the offense continues to thrive, they might have a very good probability to repeat within the NFC North and a minimum of a small probability to problem the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers for NFC superiority.
If not, they are going to be trying up on the Detroit Lions.