Brian Flores is already prepared to take the next step for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s been in the spotlight of the national football media since his hiring as the Miami Dolphins head coach in 2019, after a long and successful career with the New England Patriots. But Flores was up to the challenge, becoming the 12th head coach in Dolphins history, and attempting to transform a struggling franchise into a perennial contender.
His time in Miami was short-lived, but most saw his overall efforts as an improvement – despite the lackluster team he was given to build around.
An awful 2019 campaign loomed ahead, which saw the Dolphins finish dead-last in the league in rushing yards. The leading rusher that year, by the way, was quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Their total offense finished 25th in the league in points and 27th in yards, relaying a truly head-scratching start for the new head honcho.
The Miami defense, Flores’s bread and butter, didn’t fare any better.
The 2019 Miami Dolphins defense was the worst in the entire history of the franchise, finishing last in the league in points allowed (which they had never done before), and 30th in yards allowed. A putrid 5-11 record and last place in the AFC East left Flores with nothing to do but get back into the war room and start preparing. Luckily, the Dolphins front office gave him another chance, given that he inherited a horrible situation.
Then and there, Flores started to turn it around.
Going from one of the worst teams in football to a playoff contender in one year is no easy task, but once Flores was given the reins, his team started to turn a corner. With a tag-team quarterbacking season from Fitzpatrick and the young Tua Tagovailoa, the Teal and Orange finished 10-6, with playoffs in sight. However, the Dolphins would end up joining only a handful of other unlucky souls in NFL history, and they were pushed out of the playoffs by the slightest of margins, relinquishing the spot to the 11-5 Indianapolis Colts. Still, though, it was a huge improvement, and Flores was again brought back for 2021.
After finishing a 9-8 season in 2021 with an impressive mid-season turnaround from 1-7, fans were hopeful that Flores, given some draft capital and a more solid quarterback, could finally burst through the ceiling into the postseason. Back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in over 15 years was a great sign of optimism from the faithful in Miami.
Then it all came crashing down.
Flores, who took a horrible team to a nearly .500 record over three years, was fired on January 10, 2022, in a move that shocked the NFL world. Fans maligned the Dolphins front office for letting go of a man who clearly showed signs of future playoff success. Flores tried to bounce around the league, but was promptly shut out of most considerations.
Not even a month later, Flores would sue various teams for racial discrimination, including his former employer. Text messages between Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and Flores appear to show that the New York Giants decided to hire Brian Daboll before interviewing any minority candidates, a rule that Steeler Nation will know quite well.
Flores was scooped up by the Steelers, piling on a huge asset to an already stacked defense.
Now, with a stellar defensive roster for Flores to focus on, his abilities will shine bright in the Steel City. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin stated that, despite the official and confusing title, Flores’s role will be much more general:
“Senior Defensive Assistant and Linebackers coach is his title, but I’m just excited about gleaning information and perspective from him in a wide variety of matters for the team.”
With a fresh start in a defensive-minded city, Flores can ignore the inner machinations of the league and do what he does best: coaching. The Steelers have spared no expense in securing the defensive side of the ball for years to come, and the addition of Flores will certainly help the Steelers linebacking woes of the last few seasons.
It’s not just team success that Flores is after, though. His goal is to show the league how capable he is.
His brand of passionate, player-centric coaching and team-building fits into the Steelers scheme perfectly, so expect Flores’s impact to go way beyond the linebacker core. Most Steelers faithful understand that he is simply biding his time until a greater opportunity arises. Until then, though, he will contribute to an already-stacked defensive unit, the highest-paid in football. Quite an upgrade from Miami, where star players like Xavian Howard are left to fend for themselves. Instead, the likes of Minkah Fitzpatrick (his former player), TJ Watt, Cam Heyward, and Myles Jack will also congregate around Flores and the coaching staff, allowing him to boost his value.
A playoff season with an incredible defensive performance would be a proverbial middle finger to the entire league, not just the teams that Flores is actively suing. As one of the harbors for racial equity and diversity in the NFL, the Steelers will play that role yet again in Brian Flores’s fight against the league.
Until then, though, all he needs to do is bide his time. And prepare for some fun years ahead with one of the best defenses that football can offer. Until Flores inevitably gets picked up by another team who sees his potential for head coaching status or gets promoted to defensive coordinator for the Steelers if he sticks around, he’ll just have to wait and watch the league pass him by; A league that has tried to tear his reputation apart.
Get ready for fireworks, Steeler Nation, because Brian Flores is going into 2022 with the largest chip on his shoulder that we’ve seen in a long time.
Will Brian Flores have long-term success in Pittsburgh? Let us know in the comment section below!