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Brian Flores Named One Of NFL’s Top 2023 Head Coaching Candidates

The Pittsburgh Steelers got a big boost to their coaching staff in hiring Brian Flores this February. But his stay with the team might be short. Flores was one of several coaches named to Sports Illustrated’s watch list of most likely head coaching candidates for 2023, with author Conor Orr writing:

“Though Flores is in active litigation against the NFL, that shouldn’t detract from what was a notable run with the Dolphins, taking a team in the midst of a teardown to two winning seasons in three years. While the struggles of his offensive coaching staff contributed to his downfall, there is little doubt he could lead a locker room.”

Flores’ path to Pittsburgh is well-documented at this point. Fired by the Miami Dolphins after the 2021 season, he accused owner Stephen Ross of offering him money to tank games while accusing the league of racial discrimination in its hiring practices. He filed a lawsuit against multiple teams, pending litigation as Orr points out, and was basically black-balled by the league. Mike Tomlin offered him a job to serve as a defensive assistant and linebackers coach, with Flores primarily working with the inside linebackers.

His impact has already been felt with the Steelers’ off-ball room looking stronger than it has in years. Myles Jack has played well, Devin Bush has improved, and seventh-round rookie Mark Robinson shined during the summer, though he’s been inactive to start his career. Flores’ drill sergeant mentality has gone a long way into making this a more disciplined group, and he rallied the 2021 Dolphins out of a 1-7 hole to finish the year 9-8. It’s a resume that certainly warrants a second chance at being a head coach, or at the least, a defensive coordinator job.

If Flores were to take a head coaching job in 2023, the Steelers would not receive compensatory picks under new NFL rules. Flores would have to be with Pittsburgh for at least two years in order for that to occur. His odds of receiving head coaching interest next year could depend on the state of his lawsuit. If it’s unresolved, teams may stay away. But if teams can put that aside, Flores should at least receive interviews.

He was the only member of the Steelers on SI’s list. And with good reason. There aren’t many other candidates to choose from, no up-and-coming bright offensive mind that litters lists like these. DC Teryl Austin might be the only other name worth mentioning. Once viewed as a head coach candidate, his time has likely come and gone, but becoming a coordinator helps his visibility and if he turns around the Steelers’ defense, could receive some buzz.

Notable names on this list include 49ers’ DC DeMeco Ryan, Cowboys’ OC Kellen Moore, Bucs’ DC Larry Foote, Lions’ OC Ben Johnson, and Colts’ ST Coach Bubba Ventrone. If that last one sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because Bubba is the older brother of Ross Ventrone, the former Steelers’ long-haired special teams standout.

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