Why didn’t Commanders hire Brian Flores as defensive assistant?
By Jerry Trotta
Leading up to the bye week, the Washington Commanders‘ defense looked like a shell of the wrecking ball it was in 2020.
For all of the strides the group made in the second half of the season, it still ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in nearly every major category, including points, passing yards, first downs allowed and third-down conversion rate.
For a while, Jack Del Rio’s job seemed anything but secure, and surrendering 32.5 points from Weeks 14-17, regardless of the state of the roster, should have given the front office some incentive to make upgrades.
That’s not to say Del Rio should be fired, obviously. However, with so many brilliant defensive minds available for hire, we can’t help but wonder by Washington didn’t take a swing at former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores.
While Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL and various teams consumes headlines, the Steelers swooped in and hired him as their new senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach alongside head coach Mike Tomlin.
Should the Commanders regret not hiring Brian Flores?
This is simply a phenomenal hire for the Steelers, who deserve credit for being proactive in hiring one of the best defensive minds in the game.
While Flores is seemingly a long shot to be a head coach in the NFL again, at least until his lawsuit is resolved, it wouldn’t hurt to mesh his defensive wizardry with Del Rio and the rest of the Commanders’ defensive staff.
During an interview with HBO Real Sports, Flores revealed the opportunity came together quickly. The 40-year-old said he called Tomlin for mentorship on Thursday in regard to his lawsuit and the conversation quickly morphed into a job offer.
As a former longtime assistant of Bill Belichick with the Patriots, it’s no surprise Flores’ defensive philosophy hinges on knowing how an opponent operates. The Boston College product held myriad different titles in New England, including four years in the scouting department and seven as a positions coach.
Flores took that attention to detail with him to the Dolphins, who improved defensively in every season under his tutelage.
That speaks volumes given he never had ample talent to work with. In 2019 and 2021, Miami was expected to be among the worst teams in the NFL and they overachieved to the tune of 5-11 and 9-8 records, respectively.
The telltale sign of an elite coach is getting the most out of inferior talent, and Flores got the maximum out of his Dolphins teams.
Throw in the fact that his presence could have helped the Commanders sign free agents with previous ties to the Patriots and Dolphins, and we can’t help but draw the conclusion that not signing him as a defensive assistant was a gross error in judgement on Washington’s part.
It’d be one thing if the Commanders’ D was a top-five unit last year, but it ranked 25th in points allowed and was plagued by a discombobulated pass rush and communication breakdowns in the secondary all season long.