FOXBORO -- Over the last year, no one has spent more time coaching Jamie Collins than Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores. Not even 24 hours after the surprising trade that sent Collins to Cleveland (!!!) for a compensatory pick (!!!), Flores had the misfortune of being trotted out in front of the media to face a series of questions about what he knew and why the hell this deal happened?
“I think having been here -- this is my 13 season -- I’ve seen a lot of guys come and go, seen some trades happen,” said the respected Flores. “Was I surprised? Any time you trade a player in your specific group, there’s a little bit of surprise, but at same time, if you spend too much time not necessarily worrying about it, but you kinda have to move at some point because obviously we have a long season and we have a lot of improvement we have to make as a team and as a defense. For me, I just start thinking about what are the next things I have to do to help us win some games and play really good, better defense.”
When looking for reasons for the trade, the way Collins plays -- and his reported propensity to freelance -- seemed to be a fair place to start. But Flores wasn’t buying when I asked.
“I wouldn’t say freelancing was an issue,” he said. “Again, Jamie was a very good player, made a lot of plays, helped us win a lot of ball games. Freelancing? I don’t know . . . Did he make mistakes? Absolutely, but again, everyone makes mistakes. There’s not a player in this league that doesn’t make mistakes.
He continued, “He made more plays than mistakes. I will say that.”
Was Collins consistent enough then? Because we know how much Bill Belichick values that aspect in all facets.
“I thought he was a consistent player,” said Flores.
The bye week will help Flores and the coaches put the right pieces in place to fill the void created by the Collins trade. In the meantime, it’s the 13-year veteran of this coaching staff to manage to emotions of the players who shared that meeting room and practice field with Collins every day.
“I think we do what we’ve been doing since Day 1: Come in, work hard, do our job, be attentive in classroom and put the team first,” he said. “You have to put your feelings aside - we all have our personal feelings about the situation -- but at the end of the day, Bill felt like that was the best for the team.”
And no matter how anyone else on the staff or locker room feels, there’s no overruling that.