Brian Flores

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

East Rumors: Giants, Jets, Bills, Flores

Here’s the latest out of the East divisions, with six of these teams early in their offseasons and two preparing for divisional-round games while grappling with possible coaching staff defections.

  • A Josh McDaniels/Giants union is at least a possibility, with Dave Gettleman and Co. interviewing the Patriots’ OC this week. But ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano does not foresee this hire happening, viewing McDaniels as likely to end up elsewhere and noting both he and the Giants might not be each other’s first choices (Twitter links). McDaniels has met with the Giants, Colts and Bears. Graziano speculates (via Twitter) the Colts are the likely frontrunners.
  • Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Demario Davis look to be in the Jets‘ plans prior to free agency opening. The team has held discussions with Seferian-Jenkins about a re-up, Newsday’s Calvin Watkins notes, and wants to retain Davis. A Jet in five of his six NFL seasons, the soon-to-be 29-year-old linebacker could be in line for a significant pay bump come March after finishing the season as the NFL’s No. 8 linebacker, per Pro Football Focus. Davis, whom Watkins notes wouldn’t mind testing the market, took a pay cut prior to the 2017 season and earned just $900K in base salary. ASJ changed representation going into his UFA year. He caught a career-high 50 passes and gave the Jets a viable tight end weapon for the first time in years.
  • The Jaguars making the playoffs will slightly alter their trade for Marcell Dareus. The Bills received a conditional 2018 sixth-round pick for Dareus in the parties’ October trade, but now that the Jags ventured to the postseason, that pick will become a fifth-rounder, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
  • Should Matt Patricia be hired as Lions HC as expected, the Patriots will likely promote linebackers coach Brian Flores to defensive coordinator, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes. Flores drew interest as a DC candidate last year, per Reiss, and was mentioned in a 49ers search that ended with Robert Saleh getting the job. The 36-year-old Flores, who interviewed for the Cardinals’ HC job on Saturday, has been with the Patriots since 2004 and has been a position coach since 2012.
  • The Giants have not hired a GM that didn’t have ties to the team since George Young in 1979, and Tom Rock of Newsday notes Kevin Abrams may be in line to succeed Dave Gettleman down the line. The newly hired general manager is 66 years old and kept the 46-year-old Abrams on as assistant GM while firing another Giants GM interviewee in Marc Ross. Abrams has been the Giants’ assistant GM for the past 16 seasons, serving in this post now through three GMs’ tenures. The longtime exec has been sitting in on the franchise’s HC interviews this time as well.

NFC Coaching Notes: Nagy, Cowboys, Cards

As the wild-card round looms, here’s the latest from the NFC side of the coaching carousel.

  • Chiefs OC Matt Nagy will have a quick turnaround after Saturday’s first-round game. He’s set for interviews with the Bears and Colts on Sunday for those franchises’ respective HC jobs, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. These are the only two teams to which the 39-year-old OC has been connected. He’s finishing out his second season as Kansas City’s OC. Doug Pederson served in that role for three seasons prior to leaving for Philadelphia.
  • The Cardinals have cast a wide net in their search to replace Bruce Arians, and they are meeting with two members of the Patriots’ defensive staff today. DC Matt Patricia and linebackers coach Brian Flores are meeting with Cards representatives in New England, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (Twitter links). While Flores has only been linked to the Cardinals, Patricia is a candidate for the Giants’ and Lions’ HC jobs.
  • The Cowboys continue to make staff changes as the week winds down. After QBs coach Wade Wilson and secondary coach Joe Baker were dismissed earlier this week, Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News reports (on Twitter) the team is now moving on from wide receivers coach Derek Dooley and tight ends coach Steve Loney. While coordinators Scott Linehan and Rod Marinelli are expected to be back in 2018, many position coaching vacancies exist in Dallas.
  • With Joe Philbin reported to be heading back to Green Bay, he will be set to oversee new Packers wide receivers coach Jim Hostler. Alex Marvez of the Sporting News tweets Hostler will move from the position of Colts wideouts coach to the same job with the Packers, and if the Philbin hire ends up happening, both coaches will be moving from Indianapolis to Green Bay. Hostler’s most notable NFL job came in 2007 when he was the 49ers’ OC.

Extra Points: Broncos, Talib, Jaguars, Lee

Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib wants to finish his career with the Broncos, but he also knows that a return might not be in the cards.

If I wasn’t [returning], it wouldn’t be the most surprising thing in the world,” Talib said on Denver’s Altitude 950 (transcription via Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post). “You have three corners making big money and that’s rare to have. I had conversations with our staff during our exit meetings and stuff, so it’s kind of up in the air. But I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m still here. Just put it like this: I had good conversations with [head coach] Vance [Joseph], with [defensive coordinator] Joe Woods. I mean, things change. But there’s a chance I will be back.”

Talib, 31, has two years left on the five-year deal he signed with the Broncos in 2014. He’s slated to carry a cap hit of $12MM in 2018, but the team can release him and carry just $1MM in dead money. If Talib wants to stay in Denver, he’ll probably have to take a pay cut to make it happen. The Broncos can’t afford to squander any of their cap room, particularly with Bradley Roby’s salary increasing from ~$1MM to $8.5MM next season.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee did not practice on Wednesday and may not practice this week. However, the belief is that he will be able to take the field against the Bills this weekend, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Lee had the most receptions of any Jags receiver this year (56) and finished second in receiving yards (702). If Lee cannot go, Jacksonville will have to lean a bit more heavily on Allen Hurns, Dede Westbrook, and Keelan Cole.
  • Meanwhile, Titans running back DeMarco Murray has been ruled out of Saturday’s Wild Card game against the Chiefs (Twitter link via Rapoport). As a result, Derrick Henry will see a larger share of carries.
  • The Giants‘ interview with Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is scheduled for Friday, Rapoport tweets.
  • The Cardinals will have their interview with Patricia on Saturday, Rapoport hears. Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores is set to interview on the same day.
  • The Lions will get to talk with Patricia over the weekend, according to Rapoport.