By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
New England linebackers coach Brian Flores has certainly worked his way up since joining Bill Belichick’s staff in 2004.
Before becoming the team’s linebackers coach in 2016, Flores had worked for the Patriots as a scouting assistant, pro scout, special teams assistant, vague-as-can be defensive assistant, and safeties coach. It’s the kind of versatility that’s made the Brooklyn-born Flores a fast-riser in the organization’s coaching ranks, and helped him garner interest from the Arizona Cardinals (he had two interviews with the team) for their then-vacant head coaching position this past offseason.
The 37-year-old Flores will see his responsibilities increase tenfold this season, though, as he will take over for the departed-for-Detroit Matt Patricia as the team’s primary signal-caller on the defensive side of the ball.
“There is always change and that’s the game,” Flores said in a gathering with the assembled media on the Gillette Stadium turf last week. “You have to make adjustments on the field, you have to make adjustments on the staff and it is no different than any other organization. You have to make adjustments and work with different people in different roles.”
But it’s a ‘promotion’ that does not come with the official title of defensive coordinator for Flores.
Something he assures you that he is not losing any sleep over.
Admitting that he’s not big on job titles, Flores isn’t going to try to attempt to reinvent the wheel in New England, either.
That doesn’t mean that Flores is going to be content with the same old story for a defense that was just plain torched by the Eagles in the Super Bowl, surrendering 538 total yards, including 374 yards through the air.
“Tough, smart, dependable, and can play under pressure,” Flores said of what this New England defense, with offseason imports Jason McCourty, Adrian Clayborn, and Danny Shelton expected to provide a lift as potential additions to the starting 11, will look like under his guidance this season. “That’s been a good formula. I’ll go with that one.”
For a Patriot defense that’s consistently been among the league’s best over the last four seasons, Flores will also have to do his part to develop a new group, with four of the Patriots’ nine 2018 draft picks coming on the defensive side of the ball.
And while it’s only May, it would certainly seem as if Flores is leaving that impression on some of the newest Patriots.
“Work hard,” New England rookie linebacker Christian Sam said of his biggest takeaway from his early sessions with the Patriots. “I mean, I’ve always known that, but work hard and everything you do, go hard, be attentive and just – not follow – but there’s been a standard set here and just keep going with it.”
“I’m tough on the players,” Flores, who carved out his role as an undersized and scrappy linebacker during a four-year career at Boston College before joining the Pats staff, admitted. “I think you need to be tough on them so they can be disciplined.
“You need discipline to play this game.”
It’s all part of the plan to stay true to what’s made the Patriots the most successful franchise during Belichick’s reign.
“There’s a long history of this defense. Bill’s been here for a number of years. I would say we’re going to continue to play defense like we’ve played for the past 18 seasons since he’s been here,” Flores offered. “My role in that is no different than any other coach on the team. We’re trying to put something together here and do whatever helps us win. You can call it a personal imprint — but it’s a team imprint. That doesn’t resonate with me. It’s a team imprint.
“It’s not my imprint. It’s our imprint.”
Ty Anderson 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 Ty? Follow him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.