Brian Flores is a first-year head coach with the Miami Dolphins. He is a product of the Bill Belichick coaching tree with the New England Patriots. His team is 0-6 in his first six games, and is now set to face the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road on Monday night in primetime.
Even though the Steelers have been ailing this year, off to a 2-4 start to the season amid significant changes and significant losses and injuries, they seem to be on a path toward stabilization, and really will be driven by the quality of play they can manage out of the quarterback position with second-year Mason Rudolph.
With Ben Roethlisberger now lost for the season, the lone source of consistency across the past decade-plus has been head coach Mike Tomlin, now in the middle of his 13th year steering the ship. Few have had more success during that span, even if postseason victories have become increasingly hard to come by as the years have gone on.
Flores is one of 15 head coaches or interim head coaches to be new to their position over the course of the past two hiring cycles, and he is the only minority who has been hired to the top coaching position during that time.
Following the firings of Hue Jackson, Todd Bowles, Steve Wilks, and Marvin Lewis since 2018, the two head coaches on the sideline of Monday night’s game will represent half of the men of color in head coaching positions currently in the NFL, the other two being Anthony Lynn of the Los Angeles Chargers—whom the Steelers have already faced—and Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers.
So it’s understandable that Flores has a particular fondness for Tomlin and the job he has done with the Steelers, something that he talked about this past week leading up to the game at Heinz Field. “I think he’s done a great job”, he said. “He’s one of the top coaches in the league. His teams are tough and they’re smart and they’re disciplined”.
“They play with a freedom and a toughness that I’ve always admired from afar”, he added, which is interesting in light of his background in New England. “I think they embody a lot of the things. They play like their coach. In coaching, that’s what you kind of want. You want your team to reflect who you are, and his teams are tough, disciplined and they work hard and they don’t make excuses. He does a great job”.
Given the number of Steelers fans who want Tomlin fired, I’m sure there will be a great deal of disagreement with Flores’ characterization of his coaching qualities and how they are reflected on the field—or perhaps with which of his qualities end up being reflected by his players.