The Pittsburgh Steelers are not a team that tends to make a habit out of making headline-grabbing moves, but their decision to hire Brian Flores back in February certainly achieved that, even if it was not the intention.
A former head coach who was one of the hottest names on the interview circuit at the start of the offseason, Flores sued the NFL, as well as a few of its teams, alleging discriminatory hiring practices. He was still interviewing for head-coaching posts at that time, or at least remained in the running for some; nothing came to fruition, and then suddenly, he was on the phone with Mike Tomlin, and he had a job offer.
Since that moment, while in the facility, it’s been all ball, which is precisely why the Steelers were attracted to him, and why he figures to be a head coach again in the near future, or at least a defensive coordinator as a temporary, interim post.
“He’s a football lover, he’s a good communicator”, Tomlin said about his newest assistant coach following his first day of work on the field for padded practices. “He does the things that you value from a coach’s perspective in terms of challenging guys, holding them accountable, and leading his group. He’s a hand-in-the-pile guy, so it’s been a good addition”.
Officially given the title of Senior Defensive Assistant/Linebackers, Flores can be seen all over the field, even if he has previously talked about having an emphasis on the inside linebacker position. Tomlin wants him to imprint himself, however, wherever he feels he might be beneficial.
Flores spent the three seasons prior to joining the Steelers’ coaching staff as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Prior to that, he spent more than a decade as an assistant coach wearing a wide variety of titles under Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots. He originally came out of Belichick’s scouting department before moving on to coaching.
And he has more than established his bona fides, now firmly regarded as one of the most respected assistant coaches in the NFL. it was a surprise that shook the league just a bit when he was fired in the first place, and he was certainly expected to land another job quickly, at least before the lawsuit came out.
While the legal matter remains ongoing, of course, his focus is still first and foremost on getting this Steelers defense ready, and to be better than they were last year. He does have plenty of talent to work with, though there are areas—such as inside linebacker—that may need his firm hand. He may well be judged based upon the play of that particular group this year above all.