According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Minnesota Vikings are interviewing two candidates for their defensive coordinator job: former Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and Brian Flores. Pettine, whose defenses lost steam with the Packers, spent last year as the Vikings’ assistant head coach for first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell. Between his gigs in Green Bay and Minnesota, Pettine was a senior defensive assistant with the Chicago Bears in 2021.
Over three years with the Packers, Pettine’s defenses ranked 29th (2018), 15th (2019) and 17th (2020) in DVOA. His tenure in Green Bay ended after back-to-back NFC Championship Game losses in which the Packers gave up 285 rushing yards to the San Francisco 49ers and a one-play end-of-half touchdown to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Despite having two of the better pass-rushers in the league in Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith, who was let go by the Packers in the 2022 offseason, the Vikings struggled in pass defense last year. O’Connell’s first defensive coordinator hire was Ed Donatell, a former Vic Fangio assistant who was brought in to run the quarters-heavy, two-high safety system that is spreading around the league like wildfire.
With interviews set up with Pettine and Flores, two coaches who are best known for playing man defense, it’s safe to say Minnesota is going to take a different approach in 2023. Now they just need some cornerbacks who can actually handle man coverage. Easier said than done.
If you’ll remember, Flores was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 2019-2021 and was actually fired after finishing the 2021 season with an 8-1 record. He was considered a head coaching candidate for jobs like the Houston Texans’ opening in 2022 right up until he started a lawsuit based on the league’s hiring practices. Since then, the Dolphins have forfeited their 2023 first-round pick due to their tampering with coach Sean Payton and quarterback Tom Brady while they were still under contract with other NFL franchises and while Flores was the head coach of the team.
Last season, Flores spent the year with the Pittsburgh Steelers as their linebackers coach and senior defensive assistant.