Shortly after the conclusion of the Minnesota Vikings loss to the New York Giants in the Wild Card Round of the NFL playoffs in January, the Vikings began to shake up the coaching staff with the offseason officially underway. A few days after that Wild Card loss, Minnesota parted ways with defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, who was hired for the position last offseason. Donatell received plenty of scrutiny from Vikings fans and media members for the lack of success his 3-4 defense had in Minnesota after switching the defense from a 4-3 scheme.
Under Donatell, the Vikings defense ranked one of the worst in the league, having given up more than 400 total yards in 10 of 18 games while finishing 28th in the NFL in points allowed per game with 25.1 points a contest. Minnesota ranked second-to-last in receiving yards allowed (4,515) and 20th in rushing yards given up (2,093) to opposing offenses.
With the Donatell experiment now over, Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell and company are now searching for the next defensive play-caller to take over on the coaching staff in hopes of ultimately improving that aspect of the team in 2023. As they continues its search, here is a look at some of the candidates already interviewed and considered for the Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator spot.
Candidates for Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator Vacancy
Flores is one of the more intriguing options to take over as defensive coordinator in Minnesota, having spent the 2022 season as a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Flores is well-known for his time as head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 2019-21. He also interviewed for the Arizona Cardinals head coaching job, as well as for the defensive coordinator openings in Cleveland and Atlanta.
Flores, who is 41 years old, would be a nice fit as the play-caller on defense for the Vikings, having proved himself throughout his career after getting a start with the New England Patriots while rising up the coaching ranks. He might be the best option Minnesota has considered to this point, if he is willing to leave Pittsburgh to come to Minnesota.
Pettine is the current assistant head coach with the Vikings, a position he has held since O’Connell joined the organization as head coach before the 2022 season.
Pettine is the oldest of the list of candidates for defensive coordinator, currently 56 years old. He holds a lengthy amount of assistant coaching experience in the NFL and does hold some head coaching experience, having led the Cleveland Browns from 2014-15. Pettine’s appointment to defensive coordinator would make sense to maintain continuity from the 2022 season to the 2023 campaign, and he is someone that could come right in and pick things up seamlessly.
If Minnesota strikes out with other candidates for the position, it could ultimately turn to Pettine to take over defensive play-calling duties in 2023.
Desai is the youngest of the candidate group, fighting for the Vikings defensive coordinator spot at the age of 39. The rising star in the coaching ranks is currently serving as associate head coach and defensive assistant for the Seattle Seahawks.
Desai is an intriguing option to take over as play-caller on defense in Minnesota, having learned under the legendary defensive-minded Vic Fangio while coaching with the Chicago Bears. He is familiar with the Vikings, not only having coached in the NFC North earlier in his career, but he also interviewed for this position last offseason when O’Connell was filling out his coaching staff and ultimately chose Donatell to lead the defense.
Desai might have finally earned his opportunity to take on a defensive coordinator spot while trying to continue to climb up the coaching ranks. And the Vikings could be the right team at the right time for Desai to prove himself once and for all.
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