The conventional wisdom around sports media is that when the NFL season comes to an end there is inevitably less pro football content to cover. It is not only the offseason for the finely-tuned, freak NFL athletes but also for those that really matter; our nations esteemed sports journalists. It’s a time when the great poets of our generation, like Alex Reimer, Ron Borges and Christian Fauria, get to kick off their shoes and soak in some much deserved relaxation after the rigors of a long NFL season. Heck, maybe your sports radio bosses even give you a random Friday off.
But not here at patriotsdynasty.info! The way we see it, we are already weeks behind on our 2018 NFL draft analysis compared to our competitor blogs like bengalsmiserydecade.info and brownssuicidewatch.info. The thought of relaxing never even crossed our minds. We work harder than the next guy. The walls of our cubicles are plastered with inspirational quotes like this gem:
Never mind the fact that rent typically is paid on a monthly basis and paying rent daily would quite honestly be a logistical nightmare. Never mind the fact that technically if the success is leased then the lease payment would be due every day rather than the rent being due every day. Also there is such a thing as a lease-to-own. But that’s neither here nor there. Because the real point is we are BACK baby! Look no further than patriotsdynasty.info for the premier offseason NFL blogging.
So where do we start? Now that the Offensive Coordinator position has been resolved (RIP Jim Irsay), I am of the opinion that the most pressing offseason question for the Patriots is who will be the new Defensive Coordinator moving forward. We all know that as long as Brady suits up the offense will spank opponents. And we all saw in the Super Bowl that no matter how dominant Brady and the offense are, you still can’t win without at least a serviceable defense. After much deliberation and as much internet reading on the topic as I could possibly find, I am here to tell you this:
Brian Flores will be the next GREAT Patriots Defensive Coordinator
Now, I don’t claim to know football like Kraft or Belichick but I have watched every season of Friday Night Tykes on Netflix so I like to think I know a thing or two about evaluating elite coaching talent. And Brian Flores hits all the requirements bigly. And when I say bigly, I mean BIGLY. My argument for hiring Flores is based on three main bullet points; his background, the experience (the “Patriot Way”) and his results.
I know it is en vogue to hate on ESPN these days but I’m not too salty to give credit where credit is due. Ian O’Connor wrote a fantastic piece during the Super Bowl week on Brian Flores and his upbringing in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Brooklyn, NY. I am going to link directly to O’Connor’s twitter because I truly believe he deserves every click he gets:
It is a fairly long read but it definitely worth it if you are bored at work. Unless of course you are millennial….in which case I’ll just give you the highlights:
- He grew up in the housing projects of Brownsville, Brooklyn which is notable for having “the nation's highest concentration of public housing (2012 –Time)” and “that there were 72 shootings and 15 murders the previous year in an area spanning about two square miles (2014 – New York Times).”
- His parents emigrated from Honduras in the 1970s (thanks a lot Obama) and made education the top priority for him and his four brothers. Four of the brothers ended up graduating from four-year universities.
- Brian was local football prodigy but ended up going to Boston College University based on their academic standing. He scored a reported 1140 (out of 1600) on his SATs. Personally I didn't do all that well on my SATs, but by my math that would put him in MENSA.
- Despite being BC's second-leading tackler in 2003, his career end with a torn quadriceps muscle.
- By all accounts his football aptitude was off the charts which lead to Patriots director of personnel, Scott Pioli, to hire him as “gofer” in the Patriots scouting department.
- In Flores’ own words “Myself and my brothers are what our parents dreamed of having when they came to this country. We are the American dream." You better believe quotes like that give Bill Belichick a nice little tent in his trousers.
So to summarize, he is second generation American, certified genius, star athlete that pulled himself up by the bootstraps from a childhood in public housing to be a hot commodity in NFL coaching circles. If you can’t root for someone like Brian Flores then as the old adage goes, you sir, have a large dump in your pants.
THE EXPERIENCE (the ‘PATRIOT WAY’)
When you look at the Patriots coordinators there is a pretty strong tendency to hire from within the organization. It seems like Belichick gives opportunities for relatively unknown coaches to prove themselves in scouting/positional roles and, if successful, promote them through the ranks. I have coined this tendency as the ‘Patriot Way,’ has a pretty nice ring to it doesn’t it? Surprised nobody has thought of that before.
Let’s take a look at the progression of the recently departed Matt Patricia through the Patriots coaching hierarchy:
- Offensive assistant (2004)
- Assistant offensive line coach (2005)
- Linebackers coach (2006–2010)
- Safeties coach (2011)
- Defensive coordinator (2012–2017)
So his first pro coaching gig was with the Patriots and he spent 11 years as an assistant or positional coach before being promoted to DC. Now let’s take a gander at Mr. Flores’ career progression so far:
- Scouting Assistant (2004-2005)
- Pro Scout (2006-2007)
- Special Teams Assistant (2008-2009)
- Assistant offense & Special Teams (2010)
- Defensive Assistant (2011)
- Safeties Coach (2012-2015)
- Linebackers Coach (2016-Present)
Hmmm, I’m no recruiter but looks Brian is what they call in the industry a purple squirrel.
Now we get to the meat of the argument. There is a reason the Arizona Cardinals interviewed Flores for their head coaching position. I’ll focus on the 2017-2018 results because my brain is small and places the most importance on the most recent performances. I am not a fan of hyperbole but what Flores did with the linebackers unit this season was downright MIRACULOUS. Not to bash the players on the field but the lack of starting NFL talent at LB on the Patriots 2017 active roster was stunning (Hightower, McClellin and Rivers were on IR). Here is what I said after the Patriots week 14 loss to the Dolphins:
Note: Technically Eric Lee is a DE but in my defense I hadn’t even heard of the name Eric Lee at the time.
That really is a staggering lack of experience at the linebacker position. But despite that let’s take a look at some of the noteworthy 2017 regular season team defense rankings; specifically ones that the LBs might have a heavy hand in influencing:
- Ranked 5th in NFL for overall scoring defense (18.5 ppg)
- Ranked 7th in NFL for team sacks (42)
- Ranked 1st in NFL for opponent rushing TDs allowed per game (0.4)
- Ranked 3rd in NFL for opponent rushing TD percentage (19.05%)
- Ranked 8th in NFL for opponent red zone scoring (TD only) percentage (48.21%)
Most people will agree that these stats are objectively impressive for a standard NFL defense. But what really makes it impressive is that Flores managed to hold the team together despite a LB corp that ended up thin enough to make a Victoria’s Secret model blush. The website Spotrac.com tracks NFL salary caps and it really helps hammer home how dire the LB situation was by the end of the year. Take a look at the positional depth chart for active linebackers at the end of the 2017 season:
David Harris is the biggest cap hit! The combined six active LBs account for 4.03% of salary cap. I am going to say that again. The combined six active LBs accounted for 4.03% of the salary cap! Anyone care to guess where that ranks among NFL defenses? That was good for 29th in the NFL. There were 22 NFL linebackers that single handedly cost more 2017 cap dollars than the entire Patriots active LB roster. Take David Harris out of the equation and that number jumps to 32. Oh and in case you wanted to check in on a couple of the guys that New England showed the door (I call them expats…get it?):
The Arizona Cardinals ranked 19th in NFL in overall scoring defense (22.6 ppg).
The Indianapolis Colts ranked 30th in NFL in overall scoring defense (25.2 ppg).
So how do you end up as a top 5 NFL scoring defense that makes the Super Bowl when your starters are paid less than 28 other teams and your best starting LB is a castoff from the Detroit Lions? Well either you have great defensive schemes or you are getting the most of your defensive players. What do both of those things have in common?
Oh and in case you were wondering how Flores would handle the Butler benching in the Super Bowl; please allow me to present to you a piece of visual evidence:
Allllll aboard the Brian “Purple Squirrel” Flores hype train! ChOOoooOOOOOoooOOooo ChooOOooOOOOooo
Written by Greg Brown
1 December 2017
Written by Greg Brown
30 January 2018
Written by Greg Brown
15 December 2017