Brian Flores

Patriots’ Brian Flores To Call Defensive Plays

The Patriots do not plan to name a new defensive coordinator, but linebackers coach Brian Flores will call the club’s defensive plays, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports. Flores take over the duties of former DC Matt Patricia, who left New England to become the Lions’ head coach.

[RELATED: 2018 NFL Coordinator Tracker]

Flores, 37, had been viewed as the Patriots’ coordinator-in-waiting since Patricia accepted the Detroit job, and while Flores will continue in New England without a title promotion, he will accept new responsibilities. Well-respected in NFL circles, Flores interviewed twice for the Cardinals’ head coaching position despite never holding a coordinator gig. He’s spent his entire coaching career with the Patriots, beginning as a scout before moving to the coaching staff in 2008.

Bill Belichick has been known to give former assistants time to grow before placing them in coordinator roles. Patricia, for one, called New England’s defensive plays for two seasons before being given the DC title. Additionally, current offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels called plays for the Patriots in 2005 despite not having the official coordinator moniker.

Flores will have his work cut out for him in 2018, as the Patriots defense ranked 29th in yards allowed and 31st in DVOA a season ago. New England figures to lose starting cornerback Malcolm Butler to free agency, but linebacker Dont’a Hightower should return after injuries limited him to only five games in 2017.

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Brian Flores, Chad O’Shea Favorites For Patriots’ Coordinator Jobs

As Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia get set to oversee Super Bowl LII units before departing for head-coaching positions, the Patriots are zeroing in on their successors.

Both are expected to be in-house choices. Linebackers coach Brian Flores has been mentioned as the Patriots’ preferred Patricia successor, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk confirms that’s still the thinking in New England. Florio adds wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea, who has been previously mentioned as a possible candidate, is viewed as the frontrunner to take over the 2018 Pats’ offense.

A report from NBC Sports Boston’s Gary Tanguay indicates (Twitter link) the Patriots are planning to interview Ohio State DC Greg Schiano for the DC job, but Florio hears that if Schiano joins the New England staff it will be in a different position.

A possible Schiano route to the Pats’ DC job, per Florio, would then come as a result of Flores being hired as a head coach elsewhere. Considering he was in the mix for the Cardinals’ job for weeks, that could well happen soon.

Florio adds an outside chance exists that assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski succeeds McDaniels, but the belief is he has not been coaching with the team long enough make this ascent. McDaniels has coached the Pats’ QBs and run the offense. Schuplinski was an offensive assistant from 2013-15 before taking over as the assistant quarterbacks coach in 2016.

O’Shea, meanwhile, has been the Patriots’ wideouts coach for the past nine seasons. The 45-year-old assistant’s been a full-time position coach since 2004, when he made his NFL debut as the Chiefs’ assistant special teams coach.

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Latest On Josh McDaniels, Patriots’ Staff

Josh McDaniels had his second interview with the Colts on Friday, and it apparently went well. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link) that, shortly after the conclusion of Super Bowl LII, Indianapolis will hire McDaniels as its next head coach.

Josh McDaniels (Vertical)

Of course, this hardly qualifies as breaking news. We have known for some time now that McDaniels would be heading to the Colts once New England’s season is over, and the Friday interview was largely just an opportunity for him to sit down with Indianapolis GM Chris Ballard and owner Jim Irsay to make plans for the offseason. As Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com tweets, Irsay was not present for the first interview, so the second summit was needed to get the owner’s official stamp of approval.

McDaniels will now turn his attention towards bringing yet another Super Bowl to New England before he departs. The Patriots, meanwhile, will need to replace not only McDaniels, but DC Matt Patricia as well. Plus, as Schefter points out, Pats special teams coordinator Joe Judge is on an expiring contract, and Ben Volin of the Boston Globe hears that Judge may well join Patricia in Detroit (Twitter link).

Volin writes in a full-length piece that Patriots LB coach Brian Flores — who got some head coaching interest this year — seems like the obvious candidate to replace Patricia as New England’s DC. The real question, then, is who (if anyone) will replace McDaniels.

As Volin notes, head coach Bill Belichick has not had to fill either top coordinator position since 2012, but his history suggests that if he does name a new offensive coordinator, he will promote from within. Indeed, all of Belichick’s coordinators during his 18-year tenure in New England either worked with him at a previous stop or worked their way up inside the Pats’ organization.

During a portion of Belichick’s reign, the team has not even had an official offensive coordinator. McDaniels ran the offense as a quarterbacks coach in 2005, and current Texans head coach Bill O’Brien called plays for the offense during the 2008-09 seasons but did not hold the OC title.

Nonetheless, someone will need to run the offense, regardless of title, and Volin says the only two realistic choices on-staff are assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski and receivers coach Chad O’Shea. Of the two, Volin sees O’Shea as the more likely target, as he has experience in all facets of the game and currently serves as the team’s red zone offense coordinator.

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Latest On Patriots’ Brian Flores

Now that he’s no longer in consideration for the Cardinals head coaching job, Patriots linebacker coach Brian Flores has a few options that could be on the table for this upcoming season. After Arizona decided to hire Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, Flores will not follow him to be the team’s next defensive coordinator, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Brian Flores (Vertical)

Schefter adds that with current Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia expected to accept a job offer to be the Lions next head coach, Flores is a “prime candidate” to lead Bill Belichick‘s defense next season. Even though Flores is just 36 years old, he already has a fairly long history with the Pats organization. He’s spent the last 10 years as a coach with the team, but his work stems back to his days in the team’s front office when he was hired as a scouting assistant back in 2004.

It’s certainly possible that Flores could have the option of going with Patricia to Detroit, but it’s becoming clear that he’s the odds on favorite to lead the Pats defense in 2018.

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Cardinals Rumors: Munchak, Wilks, Caldwell

The Cardinals are the only NFL team looking for a new head coach that either hasn’t already made a hire or does not have a clear-cut front-runner for the position. Indeed, many coaches around the league have “trepidation” about the Arizona gig, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). Among the factors concerning potential contenders are the Cardinals’ lack of a solution at quarterback and the increasingly difficult path to contention in the NFC West. Additionally, Arizona prefers to keep the majority of its defensive staff in place, meaning a new head coach might not get the opportunity to hire his own coaches, as La Canfora writes in a separate piece. The immediate outlook for the Cardinals isn’t very positive, meaning ownership could make “sweeping changes” again in just a few years.

Here’s more on the Cardinals:

  • Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak withdrew from Arizona’s coaching hunt last week, but La Canfora reports (via Twitter) that Munchak would have been the favorite for the club’s head coaching position had he not pulled out. Munchak cited family concerns when explaining why he decided to remain in Pittsburgh, but there was at least some thought the Steelers could promote the NFL Hall of Famer to offensive coordinator after ex-OC Todd Haley‘s contract expired. Instead, Pittsburgh tabbed incumbent quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner for the role, meaning Munchak will return for a fifth season as the team’s OL coach. Munchak, 57, has previous head coaching experience, as he posted a 22-26 record with the Titans from 2011-13.
  • Among the candidates who are still in contention for the Arizona job, Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks has reportedly made a “very strong impression” on Cardinals ownership during the search process, tweets La Canfora. Wilks, Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores, Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong, and Eagles quarterbacks John DeFilippo all have or will receive second interviews. Incumbent DC James Bettcher, meanwhile, won’t require a second meeting given his familiarity with Arizona’s decision-makers.
  • While the Cardinals’ search is still ongoing, candidates have already started to formulate hypothetical coaching staffs. Flores for instance, would likely install former Lions head coach Jim Caldwell as offensive coordinator were he to land the Arizona gig, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Bettcher, meanwhile, is eyeing former Broncos play-caller Mike McCoy for OC and ex-Colts head coach Chuck Pagano for DC, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).
  • We touched on Haley earlier, and the former Pittsburgh offensive coordinator says he would have interest in taking over OC duties for the Cardinals, per Mike Jurecki of 98.7 FM (Twitter link). Haley, of course, has worked in Arizona before as the club’s offensive coordinator from 2007-08. Also a potential candidate for vacant OC jobs in both New York and Cleveland, Haley will likely need to wait until the Cardinals settle on their next head coach before taking any serious looks at a reunion in the desert.

Patriots Interested In Aaron Glenn For DC

Now that it seems certain the Patriots are going to lose Matt Patricia to the Lions, names are emerging for the Pats’ soon-to-be available defensive coordinator position.

Brian Flores is the favorite for this role, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (on Twitter). This would be a natural progression for the 36-year-old Flores, who has coached the safeties and linebackers under Patricia since 2012. But an outside candidate looms as well.

The Patriots are also expected to consider Saints secondary coach Aaron Glenn, Rapoport reports. Glenn played for Bill Belichick early in his career when he was a Pro Bowler with the Jets.

Glenn’s worked as the Saints’ secondary boss for the past two seasons. Prior to that, the 45-year-old Glenn was an assistant defensive backs coach with the Browns for two years. Glenn played with the Jets for eight seasons, and three of those (1997-99), came when Belichick ran Bill Parcells‘ defense. A three-time Pro Bowler, Glenn earned two of those distinctions under Belichick in ’97 and ’98.

Flores remains in contention for the Cardinals’ HC position. He’s expected to receive a second interview with Arizona brass. It would seem if the Cardinals go in another direction for their top coaching job that Flores will be promoted in New England. If Flores lands the Cards’ job, then the Pats’ search becomes more interesting.

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Brian Flores Set For Second Cards Interview

Already having cast the widest net in the HC search process, the Cardinals are continuing their second-interview circuit.

Add Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores to the list of those who will secure additional summits with the Cards. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter) the longtime Patriots assistant will meet with Arizona brass once again.

Flores will join Panthers DC Steve Wilks and Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo in being a two-time interviewee with the Cardinals this offseason. The Cardinals are still considering incumbent DC James Bettcher but won’t interview him a second time due to familiarity, and Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak declined a second meeting with the team.

The youngest of Arizona’s HC candidates, the 36-year-old Flores only landed in this coaching search. Other teams with 2018 vacancies focused on New England’s coordinators. Flores has been a head position coach in New England since 2012.

Extra Points: Saints, Strief, Patriots, Flores

Saints right tackle Zach Strief is considering retirement, as Nick Underhill of The Advocate writes.

The reality is that we all love some part of this game and there’s a part of that that’s just in us,” Strief said. “So it makes it very difficult always when that happens, when that time comes. And like I said, I think take some time, really make that decision away from football and make it with your family. When it is time, I will have no regrets. I know that when I decide that this has gone on so much longer and so much better than I ever could have imagined.”

Strief still feels like he can play at a high level and believes that his 2016 campaign was among his best. However, 2017 was a trying year for him after he suffered major knee injuries in the fall. If Strief walks away this offseason, the Saints will have to prioritize the RT position in the spring.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • If Arizona ultimately hires Patriots‘ linebackers coach Brian Flores head coach, New England would become the first NFL team to lose three assistant coaches to head coaching jobs in the same offseason, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes. It is expected that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will become the Colts’ next head coach while defensive coordinator Matt Patricia appears to be headed for the Lions. Flores’ odds of getting the Cardinals’ top job improved on Wednesday morning when Mike Munchak declined to return for a second interview.
  • Former Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell could be a candidate for the Bears’ quarterbacks coach position, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Matt Nagy and Bevell have a common link in that they both have history with Brad Childress. Nagy is close with Childress and Bevell served as Childress’ offensive coordinator in Minnesota.
  • The Texans have parted ways with Jason Lowrey as their director of football operations, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Lowrey was close with former GM Rick Smith and new GM Brian Gaine likely has someone else in mind for the position.

Mike Munchak Declines Second Interview With Cardinals

Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak has turned down the chance for a second head coaching interview with the Cardinals, a source tells Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com (Twitter link). With Munchak out of consideration for the job, Patriots linebacker coach Brian Flores is now a leading candidate for the job. Mike Munchak (vertical)

It’s not immediately clear why Munchak has removed himself from consideration for the Cardinals job. As PFR’s Head Coaching Search Tracker shows, Munchak is also a candidate for the Giants’ head coaching vacancy, but that job likely belongs to Pat Shurmur. With rumors swirling about Todd Haley‘s departure, one has to wonder if Munchak is in the mix to become the Steelers’ new offensive coordinator.

Munchak went just 22-26 in three seasons as the Titans’ head coach, but was said to have made a great impression on Cardinals brass. The Cardinals will now dig deeper into Flores – despite his lack of coordinator experience – as well as Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo.

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Coaching Rumors: Flores, Giants, Bears

Although finalists have emerged in the Giants and Colts’ HC searches, the Cardinals may be taking a more methodical approach. And despite Brian Flores lacking the coordinator experience others in the mix for the Arizona job do, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets the Patriots’ linebackers coach is very much a live candidate for the job. The Cardinals have interviewed Flores, incumbent DC James Bettcher, Pats DC Matt Patricia, Eagles DC Jim Schwartz, Vikings OC Pat Shurmur, Panthers DC Steve Wilks, Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak and Falcons ST coordinator Keith Armstrong. This franchise has cast the widest net yet in this year’s coaching carousel, so determining frontrunner status is a bit more complicated here than it is in the three other searches. Patricia’s name has been linked as a finalist with the Lions and Giants, however.

Here’s the latest from the coaching ranks:

  • With four HC vacancies remaining and the Giants reportedly identifying three finalists — Patricia, Shurmur and Josh McDaniels — the franchise might need a sleeper candidate if the aforementioned trio each takes a job elsewhere, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes the thinking is Schwartz is that mystery choice. The Giants requested an interview with the former Lions coach, but the sides couldn’t get one scheduled.
  • Patricia doesn’t plan on letting it slip which way he’s leaning until after the Patriots‘ season concludes, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets (video link). The Patriots returning to the Super Bowl could put the Giants and Lions to difficult decisions, if Patricia indeed does not decide until season’s end. Rapoport speculates the Lions as perhaps a slight favorite here. The Lions may be going all-in on Patricia, Florio writes, to the point it’s unclear whom Detroit would tab if Patricia chose the Giants.
  • Chris Tabor will return to the Bears as their special teams coordinator, the team announced. Tabor coached the Browns’ ST units for the past seven seasons but prior to that served as Chicago’s assistant ST coordinator from 2008-10. Tabor made it through four coaching regimes in Cleveland, remaining on staff through the Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, Mike Pettine and Hue Jackson runs.
  • Brock Olivo‘s first crack as a special teams coordinator did not go well, with the Broncos firing him after one season. But the Browns interviewed Olivo for the ST job open after the team let Tabor leave, Mike Klis of 9News tweets.
  • The Bears will hire Kevin Gilbride Jr. to coach their tight ends. The 39-year-old son of the retired OC, Gilbride coached under his father from 2010-13 and stayed on as Giants tight ends coach the past four seasons.