Vikings name Brian Flores defensive coordinator

The Minnesota Vikings have named Brian Flores defensive coordinator, the team announced Monday.

In 2022, the Vikings struggled on defense. The Vikings recently parted ways with defensive coordinator Ed Donatell after one season with the team.

The 41-year-old Flores will join Kevin O’Connell’s staff after spending the 2022 season as the senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In one season with Pittsburgh, Flores led a defense that gave up just seven rushing touchdowns, which tied with New England for the fewest allowed in the NFL in 2022. Pittsburgh’s opponents also had the league’s sixth-lowest completion percentage (61.3%).

Before his time with Pittsburgh, Flores served as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 2019-21. Flores helped the Dolphins post back-to-back winning seasons (2020-21) for the first time since 2002-03. In 2021, Miami became the first team in NFL history to snap a seven-game losing streak with a seven-game winning streak. Flores led the Dolphins to a 10-6 record in 2020, marking only the second time the franchise has won 10 games in a season over the past decade. Miami’s defense finished sixth in the NFL that season, allowing 21.1 points per game, and led the league with 29 takeaways. 

Flores got his start in the NFL with the New England Patriots, coaching in all three phases of the game – offense, defense, and special teams – and helped the franchise win four Super Bowls – XXXIX, XLIX, LI, and LIII. He spent eight seasons (2011-18) coaching defense and seven (2012-18) as a position coach. The Patriots advanced to the AFC Championship game in all seven seasons with Flores as a position coach and won three of the club’s four Super Bowl Appearances.

In 2018, Flores helped New England win Super Bowl LIII in his first season as the defensive play-caller. Under his direction, the defense went from 17th to seventh in the league in passer rating, holding opponents to a 85.4 rating. 

Eagles’ Sirianni talks Hurts’ performance against Chiefs in 2021

The last time Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, who will face the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 57 in Arizona, started a game against the Chiefs was October 3, 2021.

In that contest, the Eagles would fall to Kansas City 42-30 at Lincoln Financial Field.

However, Hurts had career-highs of 32 completions and 387 yards in that game. He also threw two touchdowns and no interceptions. Hurts had 434 yards of total offense (including 47 rushing yards on eight attempts). The 387 passing yards were the most by an Eagles quarterback since 2018. 

That was one of Hurts’ best games of 2021, and the Eagles’ offense went toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, but they fell short.

On Tuesday, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni discussed Hurts’ performance against the Chiefs.

“I thought he played really well that game,” he said. “Actually, that was one of the things we’re doing too right now, is just rewatching some of that, just like I know they are, just watching some of the things that happened in that game. I thought Jalen played a really good game. I know everybody did, and then just to see him, how he’s continued to grow each day since then.

“That’s some of the things you see there, too, are like, man, he continues to get better. He had a great game this day, but he continues to get better. That’s the kind of guy he is. He just strives to get better each day.

“I don’t have any particular plays that stick out or anything like that from the game, again, just watching it, looking at some things from it. But just Jalen, his leadership, his ability to improve each day, you’ll definitely see that, and you’ve definitely seen him improve since that day.”

That game feels like ages ago, and a lot has changed. Last season, the Chiefs were 27th in total defense, while Philadelphia’s offense was 14th overall. However, in 2022, the Eagles were third in offense, and the Chiefs were 11th in total defense, so both units have improved, but it seems the Eagles would have the edge.

We shall see…

Tom Brady: ‘I’m retiring for good’

After 23 years, Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady announced his retirement from the game of football on Wednesday.

The 45-year-old Brady, who retired last February but returned, ends his career as the NFL’s all-time leader in Super Bowl wins (seven), Super Bowl Most Valuable Player awards (five), Pro Bowl selections (15), regular season wins (251), playoff wins (35), total wins (286), pass completions (7753), passing yards (89214) and passing touchdowns (649). 

Brady announced his retirement via a video on Twitter.

“I’m retiring for good,” he said. “I know the process was a pretty big deal last time, so when I woke up this morning, I figured I’d just press record and let you guys know first. I won’t be long-winded. You only get one super emotional retirement essay, and I used mine up last year, so really, thank you, guys, so much to every single one of you for supporting me.”

Following his retirement, team ownership, GM Jason Licht, and head coach Todd Bowles said the following:

The Glazer Family:

“Tom’s impact on our franchise these past three years has been immense, and we are appreciative of the time we had with him here in Tampa Bay. He set an exceptional standard that elevated our entire organization to new heights and created some of the most iconic moments in our history. Tom’s impact will be felt within our community for many years to come, and we will forever be grateful for those unforgettable memories that he provided during these final seasons of his legendary career. We wish him the best in this next chapter of life and are confident he will find similar success in his future endeavors.”

General Manager Jason Licht:

“Tom’s legacy is unmatched in the history of this game. All the Super Bowl titles and statistical records speak for themselves, but the impact he had on so many people through the years is what I appreciate the most. His imprint on this organization helped take us to the mountaintop. We will certainly miss him as our quarterback, but I will also miss him as a leader and friend. Our entire organization is indebted to him for what he provided us over the past three years. We won’t ever forget the wins or the accolades, and his influence will be felt for years to come.”

Head Coach Todd Bowles:

“I have always had the utmost respect for Tom Brady as a football player, as a winner, and as a person. It wasn’t until he joined us three years ago that I was able to truly appreciate him as a teammate. Even before I became head coach, we communicated often and had a strong relationship built on mutual respect and a desire to win. That connection only grew over this past season as we fought to get the most out of our football team. I greatly appreciate the leadership he provided and am thankful our time together.”

Brady came to Tampa Bay after winning six Super Bowl titles and spending 20 seasons with the New England Patriots (2000-19). In his first season in Tampa Bay in 2020, Brady led Tampa Bay to an 15-5 overall record, capturing the franchise’s second Super Bowl title and earning Super Bowl MVP honors.

He was drafted by the New England Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft.

He had a great run, and all great runs come to an end! 

Congrats, Tom Brady, on a great run!

Vikings’ Hunter to replace Reddick in Pro Bowl Games

Vikings OLB Danielle Hunter has been named to the 2023 NFL Pro Bowl Games. Hunter, who will be appearing in his third Pro Bowl, is replacing OLB Haason Reddick of the Philadelphia Eagles, who is unable to participate due to the Super Bowl.

Hunter, 28, started in all 17 games this season and registered 65 tackles (46 solo), a career-high-tying 22 quarterback hits, a team-leading 10.5 sacks and a career-high three passes defensed. His 10.5 sacks are the fourth-most sacks he’s had in a single season in his career. Hunter also totaled 76 pressures this season, the eighth-most in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

The seven-year pro is slated to participate in this year’s Pro Bowl Games alongside QB Kirk Cousins, RB Dalvin Cook, LS Andrew DePaola, TE T.J. Hockenson, WR Justin Jefferson and OLB Za’Darius Smith.

The NFC and AFC teams will face off in the 2023 Pro Bowl Games on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Eagles’ Sirianni: ‘This is the most complete team that I’ve ever been around’

In 2022, the Philadelphia Eagles(14-3) had the best record in football in the regular season and are one game away(battle the 49ers in the NFC title game at the Linc on Sunday) from getting to the Super Bowl.

The Eagles have a league-best eight Pro Bowlers and, from top to bottom, have one of the best rosters in the NFL.

According to Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni, who has been around the NFL as a coach since 2009, the 2022 Philadelphia Eagles is the most complete team he’s been around.

“We had some good Mount Union(University) teams. I mean, we had some really good Mount Union teams, that’s for darn sure,'” Sirianni said on Thursday. “But, yeah, in the NFL, this is the most complete team that I’ve ever been around.

“The thing that makes you say that is that I’ve been taught from very young that it’s O-line, D-line, O-line, D-line, O-line, D-line. It doesn’t matter if it’s my son’s pee wee game, it doesn’t matter if it’s a high school game, it doesn’t matter if it’s a college game, it doesn’t matter if it’s a pro game, the O-line, D-line, wins games and sets the tone.

“We have a great defensive line. We have a great offensive line. And not only do we have these pieces in place there, we also understand that we have backups, and we have rotations, guys ready to step in and make plays, and guys that have stepped in to make plays.

“We also know this about San Francisco: They have a great O-line and D-line. You get to the NFC Championship game, that’s what it’s going to look like. I haven’t looked at Cincinnati or Kansas City, but I am assuming it is similar traits.

“So, it’ll be a battle. Yeah, a lot of credit to our O-line, D-line. A lot of credit to [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman], and how he’s put this roster together and his staff and [Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line] coach Stout [Jeff Stoutland] and [Defensive Line] coach [Tracy] Rocker and [Defensive Ends/Outside Linebackers] coach Wash [Jeremiah Washburn]. We have a lot of guys in place that are making it possible with those guys.”

Sirianni is right; the Eagles are a complete team and may have the most complete team in the NFL, but none of that means a thing if they don’t get the ring.

Eagles DC Gannon talks 2017 NFC Championship Game at the Linc

The last time the Philadelphia Eagles made it to the NFC title game was in the 2017 season, and in that game, the Eagles routed the Minnesota Vikings 38-7 at Lincoln Financial Field to go to the Super Bowl. 

Ultimately, Philadelphia would win the first Super Bowl in franchise history two weeks later against the Patriots. 

Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon was there when the Eagles faced the Vikings in the NFC title game. At the time, he was Minnesota’s assistant defensive backs coach. On Wednesday, Gannon recalled the energy in the building that day.

“In warmups, a guy that I was coaching, he looked at me with a look in his eye like, whoa. [Minnesota Vikings S] Harrison Smith. I said, whoa, back,” Gannon said. “You could feel the energy, and it’s awesome. This is one of the best atmospheres that you’re going to get in the National Football League, and obviously, being the championship game, it’ll be heightened.

“Yeah, I thought the energy in the building was just phenomenal. Before kickoff, as the game got going, and it’s a tough place to play, and it’s a big advantage for us.”

Playing the Vikings in Minnesota is always challenging, and they have a great fan base. However, according to Gannon, Philly is more electric.

“You know, you kind of think that’s an external factor that you kind of block out, but in ’16 and ’17 in Minnesota when that new facility got built, that new stadium got built, that was a really good atmosphere, too,” he said. “That was the Minnesota miracle, that game, to come here(Philadelphia) to play, and I was like, wow, I don’t know if there will ever be a stadium more electric than that that I’ve been a part of after [former Minnesota Vikings WR Stefon] Diggs has a walk-off. When we were here in warmups, that’s what it was. When we were here in warmups, it was like, whoa, this is as electric — it’s more electric than that place was.

“I always joke about it with Mr. Lurie [Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Lurie] and [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman]; I’ve always wanted to be a part of a Philly team to play in playoff games at that stadium because that’s how it stood out in my mind.”

San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback Brock Purdy will experience this environment on Sunday. Will he be ready? We’ll find out soon enough.

Giants GM Joe Schoen: ‘We’d like Daniel(Jones) to be here’

On Monday, Giants GM Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll met the media to put a bow on the team’s successful 2022 season.

This season, New York, who made the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and won a playoff game for the first time since 2011, looks like a team that could be on the rise.

Obviously, the Giants have some questions that they have to answer.

Daniel Jones:

Daniel Jones played well this season and made some strides. In 2022, Jones had a career-high in yards(3,205), rushing yards(708), and rushing touchdowns(7), and he protected the football(five interceptions), but he’s an unrestricted free agent who will definitely get a raise. 

Schoen was asked a series of questions by the media related to Jones:

Q: Do you plan on re-signing (quarterback) Daniel (Jones)?

Schoen: “We’d like Daniel to be here. Again, he said it yesterday – there’s a business side to it. We feel like Daniel played well this season. He’s done everything that we’ve asked him to do. Again, there’s a business side to it. We haven’t went down that road yet. We still have to have our meetings with our staff late in the week, and we’ll devise an offseason plan. We haven’t had those meetings yet, but we would like to have Daniel Jones back.”

Q: Having said that, when did you know? You and Dabs came in and had to do your due diligence and see what you had in Daniel (Jones) and everybody else. When did you make the decision, both of you guys, ‘This guy is our guy to move forward with,’?

Schoen: “I don’t know if there was necessarily an ‘Aha’ moment or anything like that. We just continued to evaluate him throughout the season and what the coaches were asking him to do. And he was executing the game plans. Dabs and I communicate on a daily basis – not just Dabs and I, but the offensive staff and what they’re asking him to do. He continued to improve throughout the season. I don’t know the exact date or time when we’re like, ‘Daniel is our guy,’ but we’re pleased with how he played this season.”

Q: When you say you want Daniel (Jones) back, ideally would you like that to be a long-term deal or a multi-year deal?

Schoen: “We’re going to get into all that. Again, it takes two. Both sides have got to have those conversations. We haven’t crossed that bridge yet. There’s tools at our disposal. Again, we’ll go through several scenarios. It’s kind of like I mentioned it last year, maybe it was at the combine, with the ‘if, then’ scenarios. You got to go through all those because you don’t know how things are going to fall because it’s negotiating. This is why you love the draft – you turn in the card, and they’re yours. You know what the contract structure is; you know the years. This is where there’s two parties involved, and it’s going to be time consuming. We’ll get together as a staff. We’ll talk through the different options and have those discussions when it’s appropriate.”

Q: Do you view Daniel (Jones) as a quarterback who can help you win a Super Bowl?

Schoen: We’re happy Daniel’s going to be here. We’re happy he’s going to be here. Hopefully we can get something done with his representatives. And that would be the goal – to build a team around him where he can lead us and win a Super Bowl.

Saquon Barkley:

In addition, Giants running back Saquon Barkley can also be an unrestricted free agent. After two consecutive injury-riddled seasons, Barkley broke out in 2022 as he rushed for a career-high 1312 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Schoen was also asked a series of questions by the media related to Barkley:

Q: Obviously you need a new contract with (running back) Saquon (Barkley). Is that somebody, also, you also would like to keep, and is the franchise tag a possibility?

Schoen: “Again, this is a special team to me. It was my first year. We’d like to have all the guys back, I really would. But there’s a business side to it. There’s rules that you need to operate under in terms of the salary cap. Saquon, he’s a good player. He’s a great teammate. I loved getting to know him this season. He’s a guy we would like to have back. It’s just, again, we haven’t had our end-of-season meetings yet. We’re less than 48 hours after that game. Everybody is going to step back, take the emotion out of it, evaluate the roster and then we’ve got to operate under the salary cap. How are you going to divvy up? How are we going to create the roster? What are the priority positions, and how are we going to move forward? We would like to have Saquon back if it works out.”

Q: With Saquon (Barkley), how do you view running back positional value versus he’s also, other than Daniel (Jones), your best playmaker?

Schoen: “Listen, Saquon has done everything we’ve asked him to do, and he’s a good football player. Again, the positional value – we’ll get into how we want to build this team and allocate our resources. That’s what it comes down to. Again, he’s a good football player. He was durable for us this year; he played well. And again, he’s a guy that we would like to have back.”

Q: On Saquon (Barkley), when you try to determine his financial value – how much do you factor in character and contribution to culture as opposed to talent when it comes to that evaluation?

Schoen: “If that wasn’t important, we probably wouldn’t be approaching him. So, that’s kind of a starter for us – if you’re a good teammate, you’re a culture fit for how we want to do things. That’s where we go to those players. We don’t factor in – when you’re making comps (comparisons), it’s hard to put a value on that. It’s important, but you can look at how many yards, touchdowns, Pro Bowls, games played, games missed. Those are more markers that we can establish value on. We wouldn’t approach him or look to sign a guy if they didn’t fit our culture if we didn’t think so.”

Q: How close were you with him (Saquon Barkley in bye week conversations)? How close were you with him, and did you consider yourself close when you had that conversation?

Schoen: “We had productive conversations. We were off on the value. Again, we said we would circle back up at the end of the season and continue those conversations, but that time of year, we weren’t really that close I would think.”

Reports are leaning toward the Giants bringing back Jones and Barkley. It’s just a matter of how they are going to do it. Not completely sold on Jones being the guy, but if New York can finally build a complete roster around him, then maybe you can win with him. He’s proven that he can win, but can you win big with Jones? Time will be the judge.

Eagles’ Sirianni talks comparison between Hurts & Jordan

Michael Jordan is considered by many to be the greatest player in NBA history. In 15 NBA seasons, Jordan won six NBA titles, six NBA Finals MVPs, and five-time regular-season MVPs.

Anytime you compare any player to Jordan, you’re saying that player is special. 

After Philadelphia’s 38-7 win over the Giants on Saturday night, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni compared Hurts to Jordan. The third-year quarterback is playing like an MVP this season and have the Eagles one game away from the Super Bowl.

On Monday, Sirianni explained the Jordan comparison.

“You know, when you compare something like that, you’re thinking about — I mean, Michael Jordan is the best basketball player of all time, and I get in arguments back and forth with our players,” Sirianni said. “In my opinion, right, because my height of watching basketball — I’m not trying to start a debate here or anything like that, but in my opinion, my height of watching basketball and who I always wanted to be as a kid growing up was Michael Jordan. I don’t think I’m going to get in many arguments that he’s the best basketball player of all time.

“But the things that Michael Jordan, you were able to see a lot of things about him in “The Last Dance” about his competitiveness and about just his desire and will to win.

“So when you make that comparison, you think — again, when you guys ask me about Jalen, the first thing, as good as he’s played this year, as well as he’s run the football, as well as he’s thrown the football, reading defenses, accurate throws, as well as he’s done all that, what you notice first about him is his will to win, his competitive drive.

“That comparison is kind of in that aspect of it. Again, was I around Michael Jordan? No, but I was able to watch from afar when I was a kid, but then also you’re able to watch these documentaries, and you see that common denominator of those things — the first thing you asked me about Jalen, I always talk about all those things, all the intangibles that he has.

“That’s where that’s coming from is just that will to win. It’s at a different level. He had that big chain on. What did it say? A breed of one. He’s a breed of one. That’s who he is. He’s unlike anybody I’ve been around just with how much he loves this game, how much winning drives him, how much getting better every day drives him, how much leading drives him. He’s special. He is a special dude.

“That’s where really I was coming from with that, in the sense of, like man, these guys, they’re built different. They’re built different as far as how they go about their business and how they go about prepping for games and compete in games and steady during games. That’s what I was speaking of there.”

You can see Hurts’ competitive fire in his demeanor; as Sirianni said, he’s never fazed. However, Jordan won, and he won big, so for this comparison to stick, Hurts has to win on Sunday against the 49ers, which won’t be easy, but if he’s really Jordan-like, the Eagles will be in Arizona for Super Bowl LVII.

Giants’ Barkley on season ending: ‘It sucks, this was a fun team’

The season did not end the way the New York Giants wanted it to, but when they look back on it, they will realize it was a success.

New York’s season ended in Philadelphia on Saturday night as they fell to the Eagles 38-7 in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. 

The Giants, who lost three times to Philadelphia this season, allowed the Eagles to score four touchdowns on their first five drives and trailed 28-0 at halftime. New York was dominated from start to finish.

“Well, crash landing here,” Daboll said after the loss. “Give Philly credit. They did everything better than we did today—tough game. We really got beat in all facets, so it wasn’t one thing in particular. It was a team game, and we just didn’t get it done. Congratulations to Philly. They get to move on, and unfortunately, we don’t.”

After five straight 10-loss seasons, New York was 9-7-1 this year, made the playoffs for the first time since 2016, and got their playoff win since 2011.

Despite the blowout loss, Daboll wanted his team to keep their heads up.

“I told them to keep their heads up,” he said. “They competed hard. It’s a crash landing in the playoffs. Anytime you lose, it hurts because of the amount of effort and energy you put into it each week. And when you lose this time of year, it hurts even more. You work extremely hard to get to this point. You’re blessed to get to this point. It’s hard to do.”

Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, who can be an unrestricted free agent, showed much improvement this season. He became a better player, and he hopes to continue to grow moving forward.

“I don’t know what I proved,” he said. “I think I improved every week. I thought I was consistent throughout the year. There are certainly things I like to have back, especially tonight. I think there are some things I’ll go back and look to clean up and improve and grow as a player going forward. I thought, overall, I did do that. I grew and improved throughout the year, and I will continue to try and do that.”

Saquon Barkley, who also can be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, said the 2022 Giants is a team he won’t forget. 

“It sucks, this was a fun team,” he said. “The guys here, coaches, everything that we were able to build this year. The way we played for each other this year, it was special. Obviously, it didn’t end the way we would have wanted it to end. Not just because of the record or because we made it to playoffs, this is probably one of my favorite teams of all time. That’s a sad thing about the NFL; no matter what, the locker room is not going to be the exact same next year. So just happy to be able to go out there with these guys and lay it all out on the line and compete with them.”

The Giants’ season was a success the moment they beat the Colts and clinched a playoff spot; they should hold their heads high. The future seems bright in New York.

Eagles’ Sirianni on Hurts: ‘He is like a point guard’

The week’s talk in Philadelphia was about the health of Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts(shoulder). Would the Eagles be able to run their full offense with Hurts in the lineup? Well, on Saturday night against the New York Giants in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, he answered the question, and it was a resounding, Yes!

Hurts was 16/24 for 154 yards, two touchdowns, and he also rushed for 34 yards and a touchdown, and the Eagles scored touchdowns on four of their five first-half drives as Philadelphia routed the Giants 38-7 at Lincoln Financial Field to advance to the NFC Championship Game for the first time since 2017.

The Eagles defeated the Giants three times this season and outscored them 108-45 in those three games.

With Hurts in the lineup, the running game was potent as they rushed for 268 yards, which is second-most in team playoff history. Kenneth Gainwell ran for 112 yards and a touchdown; Miles Sanders had 90 yards, and Boston Scott added a rushing touchdown.

Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni says Hurts distributes like a point guard.

“Jalen [Hurts] is always going to help the running game big time because of what he can do and the threat he poses on the backside,” Sirianni said. “Even if he is not carrying it or even if he is not having runs to him, he is still going to affect the game. That’s what he did. He affected the game because he demands attention on the backside. Not only that, but he runs the show out there. He is like a point guard. He is getting us to good checks. We have checks on. That’s a good defense. They pose a lot of problems.”

According to Sirianni, Hurts’ impact is Jordan-like.

“To have him out there is like — I know this is high praise, but to have him out there is like having — I shouldn’t even go there — it’s like having Michael Jordan out there,” he said. “He’s your leader. He’s your guy.

“Hopefully that’s the biggest respect I can pay to him comparing his ability to being on the field to a Michael Jordan type. This guy leads. He brings this calmness to the entire team. He plays great football. He’s as tough as they come.

“Yeah, I mean, to me, nobody has played any better football than him this year.”

Sanders said Hurts looked like himself against the Giants.

“Seemed like the old Jalen to me,” he said. “I’m not going to lie. Just proud of him. He asks everybody for their best, and we’re going to do that just for him because he gives us our best.”

Hurts knows that opportunities to get to the Super Bowl don’t always come, and the Eagles must seize the moment.

“You work really hard for these opportunities,” he said. “They’re not a dime a dozen. You work really hard for them, and I’m just very eager to continue to grow. I’m eager to go through anything and everything with this group. It’s a special thing, it’s a special feeling, and it’s a special type of togetherness that we have, and I don’t think it’s something that I’ve experienced quite like this for sure on the NFL level. We just want to continue to grow together, hold each other accountable, and believe in one another. I think we just came out hungry.”

The Eagles had more talent and were better than the Giants, so this result is not unexpected. However, the next round will be challenging, and they must keep that hunger.