The Minnesota Vikings had a high degree of success in the 2022 season under first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell. They delivered a 13-4 regular-season record, and they won the NFC North title.

After several years of chasing the Green Bay Packers, the Vikings gained control of the division, built a sizable lead and clinched the division title early. While the offense had some explosive moments behind quarterback Kirk Cousins and wide receiver Justin Jefferson, the defense was a major disappointment.

Despite their sensational record, the Vikings were actually outscored by their opponents. All four of their defeats were by sizable margins, and 11 of the Minnesota wins were by 8 points or less. The defensive showing in their 31-24 Wild Card loss to the Giants was an embarrassment, as New York quarterback Daniel Jones torched them for 301 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The Vikings fired defensive coordinator Ed Donatell after his first season with the team. Donatell is considered a smart and thoughtful defensive mind, and he quickly turned the Vikings into a 3-4 defense after years of playing 4-3 under previous head coach Mike Zimmer.

The results were poor, but it is not fair to pin the 31st-ranked defense solely on the coordinator. The Vikings played poorly on defense in both 2020 and 2021, so the defensive issues in 2022 were merely the continuation of a severe problem.

O’Connell and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah have to find a new defensive coordinator, but they also have to upgrade their personnel if the team is going to get past the Wild Card round of the playoffs.


Brian Flores

Flores was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins for 3 years before he was fired at the end of the 2021 season. He is suing the NFL for discrimination, but he also took a job last season as the senior defensive assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Flores is smart, experienced and tough-minded. He might be the perfect complement for the warm, friendly and creative O’Connell. Even though the Vikings created a much-improved locker room this season, the essence of hard-nosed, punishing football was missing.