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The Athletic Names Brian Flores As Candidate For Carolina’s Head Coaching Vacancy

This morning, the Carolina Panthers got the coaching carousel rolling when they fired head coach Matt Rhule. Jeff Howe of The Athletic put out a list of potential candidates “after speaking to several executives around the NFL.” Steelers senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach Brian Flores was listed as a candidate on the short list.

“Flores has earned a reputation as a good defensive coach, and he was very highly respected with the Patriots. He did a good job in three seasons at the helm of the Dolphins, leading them to back-to-back winning seasons — a major step forward for a Miami organization that couldn’t get out of its own way for most of the previous two decades. It’s possible his lawsuit against the Dolphins could impact his candidacy, though Flores still interviewed for Houston’s head coach vacancy during the last cycle before landing with the Steelers,” Howe wrote.

As a head coach, Flores made some very bad Dolphins teams look at least respectable. It was a bit of a strange decision to fire him after just three years, but it was clear the Dolphins were looking for more of an offensive-minded head coach, and Mike McDaniel has been very good this season. Still, out of all the potential candidates, outside of Sean Payton and maybe Dan Quinn, no one else has had more head coaching success than Flores. And given that the Saints still own Payton’s rights, it’s hard to believe they’d let him go to a division rival.

As Howe notes, Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL could turn teams away from considering him, and it’s possible the Panthers want to go the route of a first-time head coach. As far as the lawsuit is concerned though, it’s worth noting that Panthers interim head coach Steve Wilks joined Flores in the suit. It wouldn’t be surprising if Flores at least gets an interview in Carolina.

It’s also possible the Steelers’ woes defensively this year make teams think twice before considering Flores. Obviously, it’s not his fault, as there’s a dearth of talent and the injury bug hasn’t helped, but right now Pittsburgh’s defense is toward the bottom of the league in a lot of statistical categories. It ranks 30th in total yards per game, tied for 30th in passing yards allowed per game, 23rd in rushing yards allowed per game, and tied for 26th in points allowed per game. A lot of that is a little bit skewed by yesterday’s disastrous 38-3 loss, but the Steelers’ defense hasn’t been very good as of late.

Still, the unit Flores is primarily working with hasn’t been terrible. Devin Bush was bad yesterday, but for the most part, he’s bounced back from a horrific 2021 season. Myles Jack has been one of Pittsburgh’s best players, but Robert Spillane has struggled. As a whole though, you can’t really pin the inside linebackers as a big problem thus far. Regardless, the defense as a whole has struggled, and fair or not, there’s a chance it affects Flores’ candidacy.

If you look at the whole picture, including his prior stops with New England and Miami, Flores should get consideration. We’ll see if that’s the case, though.

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