No search for a defensive coordinator in 2023 should be complete without at least inquiring about an interview with Brian Flores. A stellar defensive coordinator-in-everything-but-name for the Patriots in 2018, Flores was the Dolphins’ head coach for three seasons and piloted the team to genuine improvement before being fired by the franchise, reportedly because they were pursuing a Sean Payton/Tom Brady pairing in Miami.
Flores filed suit against the NFL alleging widespread racism in hiring practices after the Giants reportedly had already decided on hiring Brian Daboll before interviewing him, with allegations that the Broncos had conducted an unprofessional sham interview with him and that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross had tried to pressure and bribe Flores to lose games. That lawsuit is still winding its way through the legal system, with Panthers interim head coach Steve Wilks and longtime coach Ray Horton joining it after Flores filed.
By dint of a combination of bad Dolphins ownership and personal courage—it takes a lot of bravery to challenge the NFL’s notoriously bad hiring practices, and Flores put his future in the league at risk by filing suit—Flores has found himself in the midst of considerable controversy. What isn’t controversial is that he’s a damn good defensive coach, and that’s why we find ourselves here. with the Falcons pursuing Flores for their defensive coordinator opening.
That report comes to us courtesy of NFL insider Josina Anderson, who cites a league source. Flores, who spent the past season as the linebackers coach and senior defensive assistant for the Steelers, joins a list of reported Atlanta candidates that includes Packers defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator Jerry Gray and Saints co-defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen.
I'm told the Atlanta #Falcons have requested to interview Brian Flores for their defensive coordinator vacancy, per league source.— JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) January 15, 2023
Flores has also garnered interest for the Cardinals head coaching vacancy and Browns defensive coordinator position, so it’s not clear how interested he’ll be in joining the Falcons. After routinely being involved with terrific defenses in New England—and serving as a coordinator one year, as despite his linebackers coach title, he called plays in the Super Bowl-winning 2018 season—Flores is a well-regarded coach on that side of the ball. His Miami defenses after 2019 were solid-to-really good, and that 2018 Patriots defense was top ten in scoring and only allowed the Rams to score three points in the Super Bowl that year.
His three years of recent head coaching experience, where he was involved in turning around a Miami franchise that hadn’t seen back-to-back winning seasons since 2000-2001 before he arrived, also point to his leadership and acumen. It’s heartening that teams aren’t looking at the lawsuit and staying away from a good coach because of it, and there’s little doubt that the Falcons have the cap space this offseason to give him a good group to coach.
Hopefully the Falcons will get a chance to interview Flores and sell him on the job, as I do think he’d be a stellar addition to the coaching staff. Atlanta continues to follow through on putting together a quality candidate list for a crucial hire, and Flores should be near or at the top of that list if he’s at all interested.