8-Time Vikings Pro Bowler Gone With New DC Hire, Analyst Says

Nate Solder back Brian Flores amid lawsuit

Getty Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores.

The Minnesota Vikings have tasked Brian Flores with transforming the team’s defense as their new coordinator.

However, that metamorphosis is likely to be without eight-time Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson, Matthew Coller asserted on a February 6 episode of the Purple Insider podcast.

“This probably means that Patrick Peterson is done in Minnesota,” Coller said, referencing Flores’ penchant for aggressive play-calling that requires cornerbacks to play man coverage. “I just don’t know if he can play man over 17 games like he did in the past.”

Peterson is a free agent this offseason, calling his future in Minnesota into question.

Brian Flores’ Defenses Do Not Suit Patrick Peterson

Ten years ago, Peterson would have been the centerpiece of a Flores defense.

But the year is 2023 and Peterson, approaching 33 years old this summer, hasn’t shown to have the tread to be a press corner at this stage in his career.

Following Donatell’s firing, Peterson went on his podcast to defend Donatell’s system, which favors an off coverage style of play that worked for Peterson this season.

“I was shocked to see that they moved on from Coach Ed,” Peterson said on a January 25 episode of the  All Things Covered podcast, “It’s just unfortunate that they had to make that change just after one year… I love his scheme. Just unfortunate that we didn’t perform better. Because it’s proven that the scheme works. The scheme is phenomenal.”

However, the scheme doesn’t work if it doesn’t have the right pieces, and what made Flores’ defenses lethal during his tenure as head coach for the Miami Dolphins is having a stable of lengthy, athletic cornerbacks who can disrupt at the line of scrimmage and buy time for the pass rush. Flores blitzed over 40% of the time in Miami, and he’ll look to do the same in Minnesota — which will require a change in personnel.

“The reason Patrick Peterson was defensive of Ed Donatell was because it worked so well for Patrick Peterson,” Coller added. “It allowed him to use his high intelligence to read offenses… he was great at it. But if you’re asking him to match up one-on-one with some of the receivers that they are going to face next year, that’s going to be tough.”

Peterson thrived in a role where he could read the quarterback more by sitting back in zone coverage. He secured a team-high five interceptions and allowed a 77.3 passer rating but that came at the expense of giving opposing offenses to attack underneath and take the yards after the catch.

Patrick Peterson Struggled in the Vikings’ Playoff Loss to the New York Giants

While Peterson enjoyed a career renaissance as Pro Football Focus’ No. 15-ranked cornerback, his matchup with New York Giants wide receiver in the regular season and NFC Wild Card round exposed the veteran cornerback often.

The Giants targeted Peterson more than any other team this season, which resulted in Peterson allowing 11 catches between the two games. His matchup with Isaiah Hodgins, who was released by the Buffalo Bills midseason, was what New York strived to capitalize on.

Peterson was playing off-man coverage on this play from the regular-season matchup and was burnt by a Sluggo route.

During the postseason, Peterson looked lost on several plays, often over anticipating a move inside and leaving the boundary wide open.

Peterson wasn’t punished on a brutal miss where he is lined up in press coverage and was beaten by Hodgins in the regular season.

That double move presented itself once again late in the fourth quarter of the playoff matchup, which led to a holding penalty by Peterson that put the Giants on the 2-yard line — setting up Saquon Barkley’s game-winning touchdown run.

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