It’s been about a week and a half since the Vikings fired Ed Donatell as their defensive coordinator. His dismissal came a few days after the Vikings hemorrhaged yardage in a 31-24 loss to the New York Giants in the first round of the playoffs at U.S. Bank Stadium.
With the Vikings no longer in contention for the Super Bowl, the search for the new coordinator is at the forefront of most discussions regarding the team. Whoever head coach Kevin O’Connell decides on will be tasked with fixing a group that finished this season No. 31 in the NFL in total defense.
The initial interview last week went to former New Orleans Saints assistant coach Ryan Nielsen, though he is no longer an option after the Atlanta Falcons named him their new defensive coordinator. Aside from Nielsen, the Vikings have interviewed Seattle Seahawks assistant coach Sean Desai, their own assistant coach Mike Pettine and, most recently, Pittsburgh Steelers assistant coach Brian Flores.
The remaining interviewed candidates are each attractive for different reasons.
Desai, 39, learned under the legendary Vic Fangio while with the Chicago Bears and appears to be a rising star in the game. His familiarity with the 3-4 scheme installed by O’Connell in his first season in Minnesota. It’s also worth noting that Desai interviewed for the same position with the Vikings last offseason before they hired Donatell.
Pettine, 56, coached alongside O’Connell this season and offers the best chance to maintain some continuity with the personnel already in place. He has experience as an NFL head coach and also worked for the Green Bay Packers as their defensive coordinator from 2018-2020.
Flores, 41, has a solid reputation across the league and would be viewed by many as a perfect fit for a defense in need of a facelift. After making a name for himself with the New England Patriots during his rise up the ranks, Flores was named the Miami Dolphins’ head coach but was fired despite leading the franchise to back-to-back winning seasons.
Though it’s still unclear why the Vikings haven’t made a hire yet, there’s a chance they could be waiting for the other shoe to drop with Flores before they make their final decision. He recently interviewed with the Arizona Cardinals to be their next head coach and that process is still ongoing.