Per Kevin O’Connell, Brian Flores was “a Major Driving Force” Behind FA Addition

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

The Andrew Van Ginkel hype doesn’t seem likely to slow down anytime soon. Brian Flores has some major plans for the veteran pass rusher.

Kevin O’Connell took on a pile of questions while chatting with the media at the Annual League Meeting. Van Ginkel came up, allowing O’Connell to pull back the curtain a bit on the motivation behind signing the veteran: “Yeah, I think Flo, obviously, was a major driving force behind it.” Notably, O’Connell immediately pivots into his own experience playing against Van Ginkel, drawing on examples from coaching in Minnesota and Los Angeles to explain the organization’s broader desire to add the defender.

Brian Flores & The Vikings’ New Defender

The mere fact that Flores was in support of Minnesota signing Andrew Van Ginkel shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Flores’ final season in Miami was in 2021. In 2021, Van Ginkel picked up the most defensive snaps of his career, topping even his breakout 2023 season. The 6’4″, 242-pound defender was involved in 801 defensive snaps across a full 17 games played and 14 starts.

Dec 17, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New York Jets quarterback Trevor Siemian (14) attempts a pass under pressure form Miami Dolphins linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel (43) during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Van Ginkel did some impressive things in those opportunities. He snagged a career-high 71 tackles to partner with his 4 sacks, 20 QB hits, and 9 TFLs (the latter two numbers also being career highs). Plus, he added on 7 passes defended and a forced fumble.

Oh, and he was also involved in 277 special teams snaps. Matt Daniels may also be dreaming up ways to get the former Dolphin involved.

Oct 29, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel (43) takes on the field prior to the game against the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Flores got Van Ginkel along the edge for 717 snaps in that 2021 season. There were also 71 snaps as an off-ball linebacker and then 10 snaps in the slot. Rounding things out were 2 snaps playing corner.

The 2024 Vikings will be leaning on Van Ginkel to be one of their main edge rushers. Jonathan Greenard is the EDGE1, the one who is being tasked with piling up the most sacks while also playing some sturdy run defense. But then Van Ginkel has a role to play, consistently generating pressure while offering Flores the opportunity to be fully creative with how he builds his front seven.

NFL: Combine
Feb 27, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell speaks during a press conference at the NFL Scouting Combine at Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

O’Connell goes on to explain that Flores explained the merits of bringing a “Swiss Army Knife” player to the defense.

Partnering Van Ginkel with the safety trio — Camryn Bynum, Harrison Smith, & Josh Metellus — and then linebacker twosome — Blake Cashman & Ivan Pace — leaves the head coach with some optimism about where things are heading: “That’s what I’m most excited about. Just the roles that we plan on having for those guys and then how the defense can really expand.”

Toward the end of his answer, O’Connell suggests that Van Ginkel is going to be a cornerstone piece for the Flores defense: “Gink’s a huge part of how we wanted to build the whole defense.”

Andrew Van Ginkel, 28, agreed to a two-year, $20 million contract. His cap hit in 2024 will be $3.4 million.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference, PFF, and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.