For some reason, Brian Flores now is searching for a new NFL job. Could the Patriots come calling?
Perhaps, but New Englanders probably shouldn’t get their hopes up for a reunion.
The Dolphins on Monday stunned the football world when they fired Flores, who finished his head-coaching career in Miami with a 24-25 record, including 4-2 against Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Nobody wants to go under .500 over three seasons, but Flores got a lot out of a mediocre roster and led his team on a seven-game win streak this season. At the very least, he probably deserved a fourth crack at taking the Dolphins to the playoffs.
Alas, the 40-year-old is a free agent and reportedly could be a hot commodity during this coaching cycle. As such, it’s hard to envision Flores returning to New England, where he served in various scouting and coaching roles — including defensive play-caller/de facto coordinator — from 2004 through 2018. But a Patriots reunion shouldn’t entirely be ruled out.
Here are reasons for and against Flores rejoining the Patriots:
Why it’s a pipedream
Landing in New England as a defensive coordinator, assuming that’s the role he’d be given, would be a backward move for Flores, someone who deserves nothing less than a lateral move after what he accomplished in Miami. Plus, though Flores seemingly is on good terms with Belichick, would he really want to work for someone who, for reasons still unclear, did not name him defensive coordinator when he probably should’ve held the title at the end of his Patriots tenure?
Additionally, Belichick appears to be grooming his son, Steve Belichick, to lead the defense going forward. The same could be said for Jerod Mayo, but he seems destined to leave in the near future for a head-coaching opportunity. Flores definitely would be an upgrade over Steve as a defensive play-caller, but it’s difficult to imagine Belichick hiring Flores and effectively demoting his own son and/or Mayo.
For Belichick and Flores to even face such a scenario, Flores first would need to be passed over by the six non-Miami teams currently looking for a new head coach. And that might not happen. The Chicago Bears reportedly plan to interview Flores, and they probably won’t be the last team to give him a look. We’ll have to wait and see on the New York Giants, who just fired Joe Judge and might be wary of dipping back into the Belichick disciple pool. Another team to keep an eye on: the Houston Texans, who could target Flores as a last-ditch effort to appease Deshaun Watson, who reportedly loves the idea of playing for Flores. Texans general manager Nick Caserio also worked with Flores for years in New England.
Ultimately, Flores will get another shot at a head-coaching gig, be it next season or soon afterward. He likely only would return to New England for a pit stop, which is something the Patriots typically aren’t interested in.
Why it’s possible
You just never know with Belichick and the Patriots, and money talks. They convinced Josh McDaniels to torpedo his own reputation, after all.
You could make the case that Belichick, knowing he’s nearing the end of his coaching career, wants to put even more chips at the center of the table, which already is buckling under the weight of last offseason’s spending spree. Steve Belichick has not had a great season, and Bill, in theory, could disregard personal feelings and go with the superior option in Flores, knowing he wouldn’t be long for Foxboro. Plus, Flores could reinsert an emphasis on physicality and swagger that New England has sorely lacked over the last few seasons.
As for other head-coaching opportunities, there is mounting evidence that Flores rubs some people, including players and his superiors, the wrong way. There might be more meat on a bone that many seem eager to throw away. If Flores doesn’t land a head-coaching job this offseason, he probably will want to work somewhere, and the Patriots could be an attractive option.
It’s a razor-thin case, but it’s one that can be made. But, at the end of the day, a Patriots-Flores reunion feels like a pipedream.