New England Patriots

Brian Flores has long been considered the heavy favorite to replace Matt Patricia as Patriots defensive coordinator. And he will be the guy, in terms of play-calling – just not with the official title.

Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports reported on Tuesday that the Patriots will turn to Flores to call plays on defense in the 2018 season, but will not officially name him defensive coordinator.

Flores, 37, joined the Patriots in 2004 as a scouting assistant before becoming a special teams assistant in 2008. He became a defensive assistant in 2011, then was promoted to safeties coach in 2012. He has been the Patriots’ linebackers coach since 2016.

The Patriots’ approach with Flores hearkens back to Patricia, who assumed defensive play-calling duties in the 2010 season but did not earn the title of defensive coordinator until 2012. The difference is that Flores has already garnered interest as a head coaching candidate. He interviewed with the Arizona Cardinals for their then-vacant head coaching spot in January.

Brian Flores of the New England Patriots addresses the media at Super Bowl XLIX Media Day. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Brian Flores of the New England Patriots addresses the media at Super Bowl XLIX Media Day. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

“An Up-And-Comer”

Cardinals GM Steve Keim told Patriots.com at the Scouting Combine on Flores: “A lot of times you get to know a guy and early on you can see that this guy can command the room. And there is no doubt in my mind that Brian Flores has that skill, that he can command the room, that he can hold 53 guys’ attention and earn their respect. That’s really what it’s about. The great ones in the league, to me, can do that. … I just see him as an up-and-comer.”

If Flores impresses with the defense and ends up on the same trajectory as Patricia, he could be named defensive coordinator by the 2020 season. Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald corroborated Robinson’s report, adding that it could only take “a year” for Flores to earn the title.

— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.