He just put the "O" in B-Flo.

He's keeping the Vikings in contention.

He's auditioning for his next job.

The Vikings should give him every reason to keep his current gig.

Brian Flores, the Vikings' first-year defensive coordinator, has become the best reason to believe this team can make the playoffs, and the better he does his job, the less likely he is to remain in Minnesota.

He can add another highlight to his already impressive résumé after the Vikings shut out the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.

Yes, the Raiders stink. But if you want to downplay the Vikings' shutout, you're ignoring a lot of history.

Modern NFL teams are not meant to end with unadorned zeroes on the board, especially when playing at home in pristine conditions.

The league encourages offense. Legislates it, even, with rules that make playing defense as difficult as trying to diffuse a bomb while wearing oven mitts.

The league is filled with innovative offensive coaches. The athletic ability of most modern skill-position players is astonishing, and the Raiders feature star receiver Davante Adams and defending rushing champ Josh Jacobs.

All over the league, we're even seeing backup quarterbacks putting up big numbers and winning games, including Cleveland's Joe Flacco, who almost retired after last season, and former Viking Jake Browning, who is suddenly a clear and present danger to the Vikings' playoff hopes. Browning's Bengals are up next — Saturday at noon — for Flores and Co.

Complaining about the Vikings' offense, offensive injuries and quarterback uncertainty is a legitimate response to their current predicament. But don't let the Vikings' problems distract you from their newest strength.

The Vikings hadn't shut out anyone since 2017. The Raiders hadn't been shut out since 2012. In their previous game, the Raiders managed 17 points against a quality Kansas City defense.

Purple pessimism might lead you to bemoan Flores' imminent departure.

This is where the Wilfs, who have become highly effective owners, can make a difference.

At some point, Flores will want to be a head coach again, and he deserves that chance.

Maybe, though, he wants to wait for just the right job at just the right time. He's suing the NFL, which might make some teams wary about hiring him, and there are owners and franchises he probably doesn't want to work for.

This is where the Wilfs come in. There is no salary cap for coaches. They can promote Flores to assistant head coach/defensive coordinator, and pay him in a manner that will make him want to stay in Minnesota until the perfect head coaching opportunity arises.

Flores and his players are keeping the Vikings in the race. Their best hope for beating a feisty Bengals team on Saturday is for Flores to discombobulate another young quarterback.

Signing Flores to a lucrative contract extension (with an out allowing him to become a head coach) is the best way to give the Vikings a chance to meld coach Kevin O'Connell's offense with a superior defense in 2024.

Such a deal would be expensive, but the Wilfs have done quite well financially, thanks to their own savvy, the sweetheart deal they got on U.S. Bank Stadium and the continuing success of the league and its broadcast revenues.

Bribing Flores to stick around is the best use of their wherewithal.

Flores' defense has surged despite him having just one star player in his prime: edge rusher Danielle Hunter.

He's winning games and confusing opposing quarterbacks with former role players, like Josh Metellus and undrafted free agent linebacker Ivan Pace Jr.

Imagine, if you will, a Vikings team with Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson healthy, T.J. Hockenson at tight end, and this defense — or a future version of this defense that might be even more talented.

"Total credit to our defense, and really, a season-defining performance by them, to allow us to get our seventh win and continue to put ourselves in position to have a lot to play for,'' O'Connell said.

Flores just reminded the Wilfs of what a lone zero looks like on the scoreboard at the end of an NFL game.

They should keep him by adding the proper number of zeros to the end of his paycheck.