Brian Flores

Report: Flores won't get DC title but will call plays for Pats

flores_patriots.jpg
File photo

Report: Flores won't get DC title but will call plays for Pats

Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores will take over the defensive play-calling, but will not get the title of defensive coordinator next season, Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson reports. 

It's a similar situation to what Bill Belichick did with former Pats defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who had been a linebackers and safeties coach and called plays after Dean Pees left as DC in 2011 before officially being given the title in 2012.

Patricia, of course, left to become head coach of the Detroit Lions after Super Bowl 52.

Flores, 37, has been with the Patriots since 2004 and an assistant coach since 2008. He interviewed for the Arizona Cardinals' head coaching job before the Super Bowl.

For more on Flores, click here for Mike Giardi's profile from Super Bowl week.

 

Which coaches will slide in as Belichick's top assistants?

Which coaches will slide in as Belichick's top assistants?

Now that we know, officially, that the Patriots have lost both of their coordinators of the past six seasons to head-coaching gigs, let's peek ahead to see who could slide in as Bill Belichick's top assistants for the 2018 season. 

OFFENSE
Chad O'Shea, wide receivers coach: O'Shea has been given the preseason play-calling responsibilities in the past, an indication that he would be called upon to serve as offensive coordinator should anything happen that would prevent Josh McDaniels from carrying out his game-day gig. O'Shea is instrumental in not only tutoring a position group that gets its cues from one of the most demanding quarterbacks in history, but he also makes critical contributions in game-planning and has been responsible for putting together the team's red-zone packages. O'Shea just finished his 15th NFL season and his ninth in New England.

Offensive notes: Jerry Schuplinski, who received some hard-earned recognition last season for his work with rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett, was a potential candidate for the offensive coordinator duties. Perhaps he would have been named quarterbacks coach and taken on the coordinator duties. (The Patriots went without an offensive coordinator in 2009 and 2010 and Bill O'Brien served as quarterbacks coach.) As the assistant quarterbacks coach, Schuplinski has been in meetings with Brady and McDaniels, and his work in helping young quarterbacks Brissett or Jimmy Garoppolo has been valuable. However, ESPN has reported that Schuplinski is expected to join McDaniels in Indianapolis. Schuplinski played his college football at John Carroll University, where he was teammates with McDaniels, Nick Caserio and director of pro personnel Dave Ziegler... Dante Scarnecchia will be 70 later this month. He told NBC Sports Boston that he could envision himself coaching next season, but he would not commit to 2018. Should he depart, coaching assistant Cole Popovich would be among the favorites to replace Scarnecchia.

DEFENSE
Brian Flores, linebackers coach: Flores already received interest from the Cardinals to interview for their head-coaching job before Arizona hired Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks for the job. He could be due for a promotion. Like O'Shea for the offense, Flores has previously taken on play-calling duties for the defense in preseason games, indicating he would have been relied upon in Matt Patricia's absence. Flores joined the Patriots as a scouting assistant in 2004 after finishing up his playing career as a two-year starter at Boston College. He's in his 14th season with the Patriots and his 10th season as a coach. For the past two seasons, he's led the linebackers after serving as safeties coach for four seasons. During Super Bowl week last year, Flores reportedly had interest from the 49ers to take over their open defensive coordinator spot. 

Defensive notes: It has been reported that Greg Schiano could take on defensive coordinator duties for the Patriots. The former Rutgers and Buccaneers head coach has plenty of experience running a program and his most recent gig has been as the associate head coach/defensive coordinator/safeties coach at Ohio State. Schiano has a long-time supporter in Belichick and it would come as no surprise if Belichick found him a place on the staff. Schiano coached Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and safeties coach Steve Belichick in their Rutgers days...Belichick could opt to go without a coordinator and spend more (a lot more) time focusing on that side of the ball. In 2010 and 2011, the Patriots did not have a defensive coordinator. 

Special teams notes: It has been widely reported that Joe Judge could join Josh McDaniels in Indianapolis, but if he does not, he'd be expected to return to his role running the kicking game for the Patriots. His official title in 2017 was special teams coach. Perhaps, if he has an offer elsewhere and the Patriots want to keep him in-house, he could be named special teams coordinator. Should Judge end up with McDaniels, assistant special teams coach Ray Ventrone would be the logical choice to fill in. Ventrone just finished his third season as a coach. He spent nine seasons as a player, including parts of three seasons with the Patriots. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE


 

Is Flores the next man up to replace Patricia?

Is Flores the next man up to replace Patricia?

MINNEAPOLIS - One of the surprises of the NFL’s coaching carousel was Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores getting an opportunity to interview for the then-vacant head coaching job in Arizona. 

In this league, it is essentially unheard of to go from a position coach to a head coach but not only did Flores earn that interview, by all accounts he knocked it out of the park. The job eventually went to Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, but Flores made a strong impression and will find himself on the short list next year should the Patriots keep winning.

“B-Flo is an unbelievable coach,” said Pats defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. “He’s very driven. Very smart. Incredibly detail oriented. He wants to improve. He wants to learn. He does those things daily. I love working with him.”

Heady praise for the soon-to-be Lions frontman. Flores, 36, is flattered by all the chatter, and in true Patriot fashion, gave it right back. But it was interesting to note that the former Boston College product said getting to this point has been an arduous process.

“You work so hard for so long,” Flores said. “This is my 14th year here. I’ve put in a lot of hours. A lot of time. Worked on my craft. A lot of people would say they are infinitely a great coach; I wasn’t. I had to work at this. I’ve gotten better year after year after year. That’s kind of been the hallmark of me as a coach and what kind of coach I want to be. I’ll continue to do that and we’ll see where it all ends up.”

With Patricia coaching his final game for the Pats on Sunday, inquiring minds want to know: who’s the next man up? 

Flores appears to be the front-runner, groomed to eventually ascend and become the defensive coordinator. But if you were expecting Flores to dive deep into the subject, you obviously don’t know how things work with this team. The entire staff - from coaching assistants to position coaches to the two departing guys (offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is headed to coach the Colts) - wouldn’t admit that anything was going to change. 

“Well again, we've got a lot of great coaches on this staff,” said Flores. “We’ll see how that goes. I think they’re all capable if Matt goes…if he [Josh] goes. Hopefully, he doesn’t.”

I chuckled. Flores didn’t, even when pressed further.

“I’m gonna do what’s best for the team,” he said. “If that means getting coffee and dry cleaning - which I’ve done - if that means getting water, I’ll do whatever is best for the team, whatever coach feels is best for the team.”

In writing a story on Flores last month, it is very evident the players are big believers in both Flores the coach and Flores the man. They raved about his ability to boil down volumes of information into a digestible series of points that allows them to play fast. That speaks to Flores’ past at BC, where as a Division I athlete he knows just how hard this game can be.

“There were times where I got a lot of information - maybe too much information - but in football, you want to try to get an advantage any way you can,” he said when I asked him about how much his days a player influence how he coaches. “I just try as best I can to give them a few things, the big ones - you gotta get the big stuff right - whatever it may be for the game plan. Just try to get that information to them so they can play at the level they’re capable of.”

Patricia sees that daily.

“You can see the respect he has from the players and part of that respect comes from his ability to communicate to them the things they need.”

That respect is also earned by the way Flores has presented himself to the players. They don’t just know him as a coach, he’s an actual person not just some automaton repeating the same phrases at them from July until February. The players know his wife. His kids. His brother. That may seem a mere footnote to what makes Flores the coach that he is until you actually talk to him about it. It was here that his passion really came through.

“I think in order to get the most out of them you need to connect - especially players in this day and age,” he told me. “That’s just my personal feeling on that. That’s been my approach. But at the same time in this game, you’ve got to be disciplined, you’ve got to be hard on guys, you’ve got to tough on them to get the best from them. How do you do both? It’s tough. I would say I spend a lot of time thinking about. And each player is different. I can’t talk to one like I talk to another. It’s like your kids. You gotta coddle some of ‘em, you gotta be a little firmer with other ones. I just try to be honest and transparent with those guys. I just try to be a good person really. They know even when I yell at them, I’m doing what’s in their best interest. Everything I do is in their best interest. I love my players.They know that and I tell them that too.”

They remember that even when Flores fixes his jaw and stares so intensely at them, you “feel as if it’s just you and him,” jokes Duron Harmon, “even if we’re playing in front of 70,000.” Sounds to me like the Patriots have found their man.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE