Brian Flores landed a new NFL job after the 2022 season ended, and he has two of his old Patriots pals to thank in part.
After one season as a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach for the Steelers, Flores left Pittsburgh to become the new defensive coordinator in Minnesota. A lousy defense was the main reason the Vikings suffered a first-round playoff exit after a 13-4 season, so it’s telling that Kevin O’Connell has confidence in Flores turning the unit around and making Minnesota a more legitimate Super Bowl contender.
While announcing the Flores hire, the Vikings head coach revealed ringing endorsements from Patriots special teams ace Matthew Slater and linebackers coach Jerod Mayo played a role in Minnesota appointing its new DC.
“The way they speak about the impact he had on them … that mattered to me, what people I really respect had to say,” O’Connell told reporters, per ESPN’s Mike Reiss.
O’Connell’s admiration for Slater and Mayo dates back over a decade. The trio was on the Patriots’ roster in 2008, the rookie year for both the Vikings coach and New England’s longtime team captain. That season also marked the first year in coaching for Flores, who broke into the NFL as a special teams assistant on Bill Belichick’s staff.
Should Flores lead a stark defensive turnaround in Minneapolis, he very well could put himself back on track for another head-coaching opportunity.