The season ended with the Minnesota Vikings’ defense in disarray, thanks to defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. Kevin O’Connell, the team’s head coach, recently released a statement regarding a new approach that would do away with the defensive coordinator.
Donatell’s strategy did not maximize the players on the roster, and he pigeonholed his players into spots they were meant for. His defense unit was ranked 31st in total and 26th in scoring.
His tenure with the Vikings; as the defense coordinator ended after only one statistically worst defense season in the NFL. The defense gave up more than 400 yards in the ten games they played and was inconsistent the whole season.
Here are some of the candidates that the team is doing due diligence and interviewing for the defensive coordinator position.
#Vikings fans, who would you like to see Minnesota bring on as their Defensive Coordinator?
— vikesinsider (@vikesinsider) January 29, 2023
Pettine, the current Vikings assistant head coach, has been with the NFL for two seasons, including a stretch with the Cleveland Browns as the head coach.
Before his current position, Pettine was the assistant to Matt Nagy for the Chicago Bears following a stint as the defensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers for three years.
While Pettine had struggled as the Packers’ defensive coordinator, his promotion would be a continuity of his defense.
— Steezy_ (@steezy_squatch) January 30, 2023
Bronco’s defense coordinator Ejiro Evero has an established relationship with Kevin O’Connell from their shared time with the Los Angeles Rams.
His position as defensive coordinator with the Broncos ended at 8th position and 26th in scoring defense which was increased by the team’s performance on Christmas. Broncos have Evero under contract so a lateral move might be impossible at the moment.
However, a new head coach for the Broncos might not consider blocking the opportunity to work with O’Connell.
— The Viking Age (@TheVikingAge) February 1, 2023
O’Connell’s initial plans shortly after joining the Vikings was installing the shell-based or quarters defense that Vic Fangio made popular throughout the league.
This season Fangio showed no interest in coordinating any team’s defense. He instead became an analyst for the Philadelphia Eagles. Replacing Donatell with the architect of the best defense strategies out there would be a wise move for O’Connell.
Morris, the Rams’ defensive coordinator, also connects with O’Connell. He was also a contender for the Vikings’ head coach position and will soon be up for other head coaching positions in other NFL teams, such as Indianapolis Colts.
O’Connell had previously shown interest in bringing his former co-workers to his new team. This, coupled with the Rams’ policy of allowing coaches to interview outside their organization, could be an opportunity for Morris.
Leonhard, a former Wisconsin Badgers defense coordinator, has been quite slippery these past few seasons. He has no desire to rejoin the NFL and wishes to stay in Madison, although the Green Bay Packers almost nabbed him back in 2018.
When the university hired Luke Fickell, this opened up opportunities for Leonhard, who is quite innovative and whose defenses have been ranked among the top five. He would do good as a Vikings hire and incredibly increases the team’s position.
At the tender age of 39, Desai is the youngest candidate for this position. He is currently the associate head coach and defensive assistant for the Seattle Seahawks.
Desai’s addition to the team would preserve Fangio’s defense style as he served under him during his tenure with the Chicago Bears.
He is quite familiar with the Vikings, as he interviewed for a coaching position and was part of the NFC North coaching team. This could be a golden opportunity for the rising star to prove his capabilities.
We have completed an interview with Seahawks Associate Head Coach – Defense Sean Desai for our open defensive coordinator position.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) January 24, 2023
Flores presents quite an intriguing option for the team as he spent most of last season as the senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He was Miami Dolphins’ head coach for three years and was interviewed for the Arizona Cardinals head coach position and defensive coordinator for Atlanta and Cleveland.
If Flores were willing to leave Pittsburgh, he would make a nice addition to the team as he has risen the coaching ranks and proved himself a good coach throughout his career.
The Denver Broncos have requested an interview with Brian Flores to become their Defensive Coordinator.
— PlayerProfiler (@rotounderworld) February 3, 2023
Vikings Stalling for the new Defensive Coordinator position
This week, the search for a new defensive coordinator has stalled as the Vikings are waiting to interview Ejiro Evero, which could be feasible following the new Bronco’s head coach hire, Sean Payton.
Kevin Seifert reports this stall is partly due to Evero’s candidacy with Arizona and Indiana polis. This situation is similar to Flores, a candidate for the Arizona Cardinals.
If the Vikings land Evero, the young talented coordinator, he will prioritize Fangio’s defense style, which is in the books for O’Connell. A lot is yet to be decided on whether he would join the team, but it would be a home run for the Vikings.
Credits on Featured Image: Flickr/Rick Burtzel