Patriots Won’t Alter Defensive System After Matt Patricia’s Departure

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Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores

Photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images

FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores won’t be given the title of defensive coordinator in 2018, but he is expected to take on added responsibilities, including play-calling duties.

You wouldn’t know it from talking to Flores on Friday when all of the Patriots’ assistant coaches met with the media. Flores was asked time and time again about those additional responsibilities now that former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is head coach with the Detroit Lions, but the former Boston College linebacker swatted them away with indefinite answers.

“Every year is different to me,” Flores said. “Every year is a little bit — there’s some transition, there’s some things that are different. This year, to me it’s similar to other years. And that’s kind of where I’m at. My goal in coaching is to help guys become the best version of themselves on the field and off. On the practice field and meetings, that’s my goal. That’s what I’m working towards right now.”

Flores was interviewed for the Arizona Cardinals’ vacant head coaching position in January. The Cardinals wound up hiring former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks.

It sounds like Flores doesn’t plan to make any wholesale changes to the current system the Patriots run on defense. That would be difficult anyway since they’re so multiple. They play with three-man fronts and four-man fronts and run man and zone coverages.

“I think there’s a long history of this defense,” Flores said. “Bill’s been here for a number of years. I would say we’re going to continue to play defense like we’ve played for the past 18 seasons since he’s been here. My role in that is no different than any other coach on the team. We’re trying to put something together here and do whatever helps us win. You can call it personal imprint, but it’s a team imprint. I have a hard time kind of — that doesn’t resonate with me. It’s a team imprint. It’s not my imprint or somebody — it’s our imprint. We’re trying to build to be as good as we can be. It starts now in Phase 1, 2 into OTAs, training camp, preseason and so on and so forth.”

He said he hopes the 2018 defense will have all of the same traits as a typical Belichick-coached unit.

“This is going to sound like a Bill Belichick-coached team: tough, smart, dependable and can play under pressure,” Flores said. “That’s been a good formula. I’ll go with that one.”

The Patriots transitioned Patricia into the defensive coordinator role similarly to how they’re doing it with Flores. Patricia held the title of linebackers coach in 2010 and safeties coach in 2011. He and Belichick shared the duties of defensive coordinator after Dean Pees left the team following the 2009 season, however.

Flores doesn’t have a problem with the current process.

“I’ve never been big on titles,” Flories said. “I’m here to work. I’m here to make this team win any way I can. I think I’ve always said that in some form or fashion. Again, if they want me to get water, I’ll get water. If that’s what the role we need to help us win, then that’s what I’ll do.”

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