Brian Flores Says It Was ‘Gut Feeling’ To Accept Vikings Job As New Defensive Coordinator

Despite being a finalist, Brian Flores withdrew from the Arizona Cardinals’ head coaching search to become the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive coordinator. During his introductory press conference Wednesday afternoon, Flores explained his decision.

As cited by Pro Football Talk’s Josh Alper, Flores said his gut told him to make the move instead of waiting to see what the Cardinals would decide, saying his first meeting with Minnesota’s front office made him feel right at home.

From Alper:

“That meeting left him with a “gut feeling’ that the job was the right one for him and he shared another message that resonated when he thought about what direction to go.”

The Arizona Cardinals ultimately hired Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon as their next head coach, the final team to hire a coach this cycle. Perhaps Flores understood the Cardinals’ long wait to hire a head coach meant the team was waiting on a person still in the playoff race like Gannon was until his Eagles’ lost Super Bowl 57 Sunday night.

Per Alper, Flores shared one story from his time in Pittsburgh that helped guide him to Minnesota.

“Flores cited a sermon he heard from his pastor in Pittsburgh — he was a senior assistant and linebackers coach for the Steelers in 2022 — saying that you “can have control or you can have growth” and that he sees a “great opportunity for growth” as a coach in Minnesota.”

Flores was hired by Mike Tomlin almost one year ago, announced on February 19th. He ultimately became the team’s Senior Defensive Assistant and Linebackers Coach, primarily working with the team’s off-ball linebackers while helping to formulate the weekly gameplan. Pittsburgh was battle-tested throughout the season after losing T.J. Watt and used 22 different personnel groupings and/or formations to compensate, doubling what they did in 2021.

It’s not clear if the Steelers have plan to replace Flores. Jerry Olsavsky can slide back into a full-time role coaching the position if need be. Pittsburgh could hire a senior defensive assistant but it would likely come down to finding the right name as opposed to checking a box for someone to carry that title.

With Flores’ departure and John Mitchell’s retirement Wednesday, the Steelers have a small coaching staff. We’ll see who they add over the coming weeks. At the least, they’re likely to replace assistant coach Blaine Stewart who helped Frisman Jackson with the wide receivers and Danny Smith on special teams.

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