The Dallas Morning News
Vikings hire Steelers’ Flores as DC
Chiefs activate RB Edwards-helaire from IR for Super Bowl
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings hired Brian Flores as their defensive coordinator on Monday, their first step toward trying to revive a once-dominant unit that ranked among the NFL’S worst last season.
Flores was a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach this season for Pittsburgh, after three years as head coach in Miami.
Before being hired by the Dolphins, Flores was an assistant for 11 seasons for New England, the last eight on the defensive side. The Patriots won four Super Bowls during his time there, which included four years as a scout. The last of those was in the 2018 season, which was Flores’ first as the defensive play-caller. The Patriots jumped from 17th to seventh in the league that year in opponent passer rating (85.4) and were tied for fifth with 28 takeaways.
After he was fired by the Dolphins, Flores, who is Black, filed a class-action lawsuit alleging racial discrimination by the team and the NFL. The case is still tied up in the court system.
With the Steelers, the 41year-old Flores drew rave reviews from players who saw him as an extra head coach on Mike Tomlin’s staff. The Steelers were tied with the Patriots this season for the fewest rushing touchdowns (seven) allowed in the league.
Flores replaces Ed Donatell, who was fired last month after one year with head coach Kevin O’connell. The Vikings were second-worst in the league in yards allowed and fourthworst in points allowed during the regular season. The NFC North champions were then ousted from the playoffs in the wild-card round by the New York Giants as quarterback Daniel Jones threw for 301 yards and rushed for 78 more.
Chiefs activate RB Edwards-helaire for Super Bowl: The Kansas City Chiefs activated running back Clyde Edwards-helaire from injured reserve and placed wide receiver Mecole Hardman on the list for the second time as they finalize their roster for the Super Bowl.
Edwards-helaire, a 2020 first-round pick, has been out since sustaining a high ankle sprain during a win over the Chargers on Nov. 20. He was designated to return on Jan. 17, opening a three-week window in which he could be activated.
Edwards-helaire started the first six games of the season before ceding time to seventhround pick Isiah Pacheco, who has become one of the Chiefs’ breakout stars. Edwards-helaire has run 71 times for 302 yards and three touchdowns and caught 17 passes for 151 yards and three more scores this season.
The emergence of Pacheco, along with veteran Jerick Mckinnon, took pressure off the Chiefs to activate Edwardshelaire before he was ready. Pacheco ran for 830 yards and five TDS during the regular season along with 121 combined rushing yards in playoff wins over Jacksonville and Cincinnati, while Mckinnon scored 10 combined touchdowns in the regular season.
Hardman, who will be a free agent after the season, initially hurt his pelvis Nov. 6 during a game against the Titans. He was activated from IR on Jan. 4 but struggled to get healthy enough to appear in games, missing the Chiefs’ regularseason finale against the Raiders and their divisional win over the Jaguars.
He finally suited up for the AFC title game against the Bengals, and he ran a couple of jet sweeps while catching two passes for 10 yards. It was while getting tackled on his second reception that Hardman reinjured the pelvis.
Payton brings old-school style to Denver: Sean Payton is bringing an old-school style sown by his mentor Bill Parcells and steeped in discipline and accountability as he takes over as the Denver Broncos’ new head coach.
One thing that means is that Russell Wilson will no longer have his own entourage at the team’s headquarters as he did this past season.
Payton, a former Cowboys assistant coach, was introduced as the franchise’s 20th head coach Monday and he was asked in an informal gathering with reporters afterward about Wilson’s personal QB coach being on the premises in 2022, when Wilson suffered through the worst statistical season of his career.
“Yeah, that’s foreign to me,” Payton said. “That’s not going to take place here. I mean, I’m unfamiliar with it. But our staff will be here, our players will be here and that’ ll be that.”
Members of Wilson’s support team having access to the building was one of many perks allowed the quarterback last season by general manager George Payton and rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who was fired Dec. 26.
Given Payton’s stance on that matter, Wilson might also have to surrender his extra parking spaces and private upstairs office.
We also could see less of his globetrotting jaunts on social media and maybe his teammates will have to make do without the air hockey and gaming chairs that were part of Hackett’s conversion of the reporters’ workroom into a splashy players arcade a year ago.
The new head coach is all business, concerned not with creature comforts but about changing a losing culture that has permeated the franchise.
Seven-time Pro Bowl WR Green retires: Seven-time Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green retired after 12 seasons in the NFL.
The 34-year-old spent a decade with the Cincinnati Bengals before signing with the Arizona Cardinals for the last two seasons of his career. Selected by the Bengals with the No. 4 overall pick of the 2011 draft out of Georgia, Green was a Pro Bowl selection in each of his first seven seasons, topping 1,000 yards receiving six times.
The 6-4, 207-pounder had a rare blend of size and speed, and his low-key personality made him a favorite among teammates. He teamed with quarterback Andy Dalton to lead the Bengals to the playoffs every year from 2011 to 2015, though they never won a game in the postseason.