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Brian Flores named next Vikings defensive coordinator

The Vikings on Monday announced they have hired Brian Flores as defensive coordinator.

Flores is joining Minnesota after spending 2022 as Senior Defensive Assistant/Linebackers Coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers and reconnecting with Vikings Head Coach Kevin O’Connell nearly 15 years after they first overlapped with the Patriots.

In 2008, Flores was transitioning from work in New England’s pro scouting department to coaching, beginning as a special teams assistant when the Patriots drafted O’Connell, a QB, in the third round.

Flores helped in that role for two seasons before adding work with the offense in 2010 and shifting to defense in 2011. He was on the Patriots sidelines for 11 seasons (after four total in the scouting department)

New England won four Super Bowls during Flores’ time with the Patriots (XXXIX, XLIX, LI and LIII).

He was hired as head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2019.

Flores held that role for three seasons, totaling a record of 24-25, which was highlighted by a 10-6 showing in 2020. The 2021 team started 1-7 but rallied by winning eight of its final nine games.

Flores joined Pittsburgh in 2022 and helped the Steelers limit opponents to just seven rushing touchdowns, which tied with the Patriots for the fewest allowed in the NFL. Pittsburgh’s pass defense forced the sixth-lowest completion percentage (61.3) in the NFL.

Players coached by Flores last season included Alex Highsmith, who recorded a career-high 14.5 sacks to rank sixth in the NFL and five forced fumbles (tied for the league lead), and T.J. Watt, who totaled 39 tackles and 5.5 sacks in 10 games.

In games played by Watt, the Steelers went 8-2, allowed just 16.9 points per game and recorded 32 sacks and 18 takeaways.

In Miami, Flores led the Dolphins to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2002-03. The 2021 squad won seven consecutive games after losing seven in a row.

The prior season, cornerback Xavien Howard led the NFL with 10 interceptions to earn First-Team All-Pro status from The Associated Press and a Pro Bowl selection.

Miami finished sixth in the NFL that season in scoring defense, allowing 21.1 points per game, and led the league with 29 takeaways.

In 2018, Flores helped New England win Super Bowl LIII in his first season as the defensive play-caller and third in leading the linebackers.