When the New England Patriots host the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, they will encounter numerous familiar faces both among players and coaching staff members. Belonging to the latter group is among others head coach Brian Flores, who started his career in New England but left the club earlier this season for Miami after he had served one year — and one successful Super Bowl — as the Patriots’ defensive coordinator in all but title.
Flores originally joined the organization in 2004 straight out of Boston College. After starting in scouting and as a lower-level coaching assistant in all three phases of the game, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick decided to move him to the defensive side of the ball where he installed him as the team’s safeties coach in 2012. After four years in that tole, Flores moved to linebackers coach and eventually took over play-calling duties in 2018.
Needless to say that Flores knows the Patriots very well, something he acknowledged during a media conference call earlier this week: “I was with Bill for 15 years. So, I know him very well. He knows me very well. At the end of the days, I have a lot of respect for him. I learned a lot from him. I’m fortunate to have worked with that organization for a long time. But I know this about him: he’s going to try to beat the heck out of us. And he knows this about me: we’re going to do the same.”
“That’s why I was in the [Patriots’] building. I’m competitive by nature. I think that’s something I tried to impart on the players I was around. So, I know they’re competitive,” Flores added. Over the years, the 38-year-old worked with numerous players and a considerable portion of them still forms the core of New England’s top-ranked defense — one that apparently still has a good relationship with its former coach despite his departure shortly after the Patriots’ win in Super Bowl 53.
“I love those guys, they love me, and I know that,” said Flores. “From [Devin] McCourty to [Patrick] Chung to [Kyle] Van Noy, to [Elandon] Roberts, to [Dont’a] Hightower — I built relationships with these guys that go far beyond football. I know that. But on Sunday’s we’re going to be competing against each other and nobody is going to care about any of that stuff. I think that’s the same with Bill, and that coaching staff, and all the guys there — Josh McDaniels, Joe Judge.”
Flores, of course, is not the only assistant coach to trade the blue-and-white for the aqua-and-orange this offseason: when he left, he took wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea with him as the Dolphins’ new offensive coordinator and also hired assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski to serve in the same role as well as cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer to work as cornerbacks coach and defensive pass coordinator.
But despite Flores taking some fellow former Patriots with him to Miami, the relationship between him and the organization still is a good one he pointed out — at least outside of the actual games: “The friendships go far beyond football, I know that. I think Bill knows that. But one o’clock on Sunday, they’re going to be on the other side and we’re competing and we’ll be friends after those three to four hours.”