Patriots

Brian Flores' hard work hasn't gone unnoticed, just ask his players

flores_patriots.jpg

Brian Flores' hard work hasn't gone unnoticed, just ask his players

FOXBORO -- Brian Flores’ signature moment was captured in the waning seconds of Super Bowl 49. As Bill Belichick eyeballed Seattle’s sideline, waiting for a declaration of personnel, several assistants impatiently looked on, hoping they’d have enough time to react and get their players where they needed to be. When the time came, it was Flores who yelled, “Malcolm, go!” at undrafted rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler. You know what happened next.

MORE PATRIOTS

"It was definitely the greatest thrill in my football career," recalled Flores. “We had spent so much time preparing for a variety of situations and that was one of them, especially in the red area. We were ready for it. Malcolm made a hell of a play but the entire group was ready for it.”

Currently a linebacker coach, the 36-year old is considered the odds-on-favorite to ascend to the role of defensive coordinator should Matt Patricia leave to run his own program, which seems very likely at this point. But Flores is also getting a seat at the big boy’s table. He interviewed for for Arizona’s head coaching vacancy Saturday. That comes as no surprise to the men he’s coached.

“I’m excited for where he’s at right now,” said safety Duron Harmon. “He’s worked to put himself in this position.”

“Obviously, the football knowledge is 100 percent there,” Jordan Richard said. “But he has so many other qualities that you have to respect.”

For starters, Flores has a wide variety of experiences since joining the Patriots back in 2002. He began as a scouting assistant then became a pro scout before appealing directly to Belichick to join the coaching ranks. 

“I wanted to be closer to the action,” he recalled in an interview during last season.

That again required entering at the ground floor. Flores was a lowly coaching assistant, the guy who had to do things like grab the bags and move them from one drill to the next. From there, Flores was special teams assistant, then did some work with the offense, then - finally - a promotion to become the safeties coach from 2013 through 2015. Now he’s coaching a rag-tag bunch of linebackers that have outperformed their overall talent-level.

“Coach Flores is always pushing, always trying to get us to where we need to be. He’s helped me quite a bit,” said Marquis Flowers, acquired at the tail end of August but now a regular contributor on defense.

Flores can relate to his players because he was a pretty good one himself. He was heavily recruited coming out of Poly Prep in Brooklyn, New York, and could have gone to any number of football factories. He chose Boston College, in part because he has a brother with autism and wanted to remain closer to home. He began his career as a safety but eventually moved to linebacker. Not only did he excel on the field but in the classroom as well. Flores was named to the 2003 All-Big East Academic Team, earning his degree in English. He then tacked on a master’s degree in administration for good measure. 

“He’s a smart guy,” said Devin McCourty. “But it goes beyond that.”

It’s the ability to translate an outrageous amount of information and present it to his players in a way that works for them.

“I don’t know if it was because he played at BC, was a good player, was out there playing,” said McCourty. “I think that helps him because he knows when you play what you wanted to hear. We hear so much, there’s so much the coaches can tell you, and Bill says it all the time, about how many different things they give to us. But when you can break it down to two things or three things, that helps players to be able to play fast. And that’s always the goal.”

“There’s a lot that we’re doing and in order to be a good coach it’s how do you present it in a way that allows your players to play fast,” said Richards, “Having him as my safeties coach and now seeing him as linebacker coach this past two years, he definitely exemplifies that.”

To be a professional coach for a decade means you must know the X’s and O’s at a very high level. There are hundreds if not thousands of coaches who have that part down cold. But Flores has taken a page out of Patricia’s book. He has learned as much as he can about his players and developed a greater level of understanding and trust that allows him to stand out.

“Each guy he’s dealt with knows him personally,” said McCourty. “I know his wife, I know his kids, his parents, his brother. I’ve been able to have an awesome relationship with him and that ability to be able to relate to players - he’s kinda still fairly young - that gets the best out of us.”

“He kinda comes to you and basically says we’re on even terms,” added Harmon. “We’re all trying to get there, we’re all trying to improve each day. It’s been awesome for me to see.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Bill Belichick stays silent in awkward but comical run-in with L.A. paparazzi

Bill Belichick stays silent in awkward but comical run-in with L.A. paparazzi

If there's one thing that is well-known about Bill Belichick, it's that he doesn't have a lot of patience with the media. He tends to give short answers to questions and in one of his most famous press conferences, he simply repeated the phrase "we're on to Cincinnati" over and over again.

That said, it's no surprise that Belichick didn't say much during a recent run-in with Los Angeles paparazzi.

In video captured by TMZ Sports, Belichick was seen on a date night with his girlfriend, Linda Holliday, and was swarmed by the paparazzi. Belichick stayed completely silent for almost the entirety of the encounter.

Everything happening in the video is both entertaining and extremely awkward. The questions being hurled and met with a weak smile from Belichick, the man who referred to Belichick as "Tom", and even man in the background trying to get Belichick's autograph...on a baseball. There's simply so much going on here, and it went exactly how most would expect it to go.

This encounter capped off a big week for Belichick. He was at two pro days this week, Georgia and Alabama, to do work on some of the prospects for the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft. One of the prospects of note was Alabama tight end Irv Smith Jr., who posted a photo with Belichick and Nick Saban after the event.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Next Pats Podcast: Troy Brown on what it takes to be a receiver in Bill Belichick's system

next_pats.jpeg
NBC Sports Illustration

Next Pats Podcast: Troy Brown on what it takes to be a receiver in Bill Belichick's system

2:15 - Phil Perry is joined by Patriots Hall of Famer and three-time Super Bowl champion Troy Brown to break down how different types of receivers are utilized in Bill Belichick's system.

6:33 - Troy begins by discussing the role of the slot receiver: How he lines up on the field, and what kind of player he needs to be both physically and mentally.

11:11 - Next, Troy defines what the 'Z position' receiver is and gives examples of those versatile types of players from his time in the league.

16:25 - Troy finishes by explaining the role of receivers in the 'X position,' the big play makers on the outside, and how the Patriots haven't had a true 'X' since Randy Moss.

21:23 - Phil goes through a handful of prospective receivers the Patriots could draft this year and determines if they would fit in the Slot, Z position (26:41), or the X position (30:22) in the Patriots system.

LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.