Pittsburgh Steelers Land Top Defensive Coach

(Courtesy of Steelers.com)

Although the NFL offseason has just begun, it's been a busy one so far for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Last week, the team hired Pat Meyer as their offensive line coach for the upcoming season.  A necessary hire, but one that didn't create much of a splash.  Over the weekend, however, the team brought on a coaching hire that had the splash equivalent of a fat guy's cannon ball.

In case you missed it over the weekend, the Steelers hired former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores as their senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach.  Flores had a 24-25 record in his three seasons at the helm in Miami, leading the team to its first back-to-back winning seasons in almost 20 years.  He was unexpectedly, and to the shock of many, let go as the head coach of the team following this past season.  Prior to his head coaching stint in Miami, he spent 11 seasons as a coach with the New England Patriots, with his last seasons spent as their linebackers coach before departing for the Dolphins.

Flores' name has been in the headlines quite a bit already this offseason.  First, it was for being relieved of his coaching duties in Miami.  As I mentioned, the team had its first back-to-back winning seasons in almost two decades these past two years, so the team was clearly headed in a positive direction.  If you consider the youth of the Dolphins, most notably so quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, it's a pretty remarkable job by Flores to turn them around from being the team he consistently beat up on as a coach with New England.  However, the team cited they had differences in opinions for the direction of the team.

Following the firing, Flores next made waves for filing a lawsuit against the NFL, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants and Denver Broncos.  In the suit, he accuses the league of racial discrimination with its hiring and firing processes.  Text messages he'd exchanged with New England head coach Bill Belichick were revealed, where Belichick thinks he is texting now-Giants head coach Brian Daboll to congratulate him on getting the job.  

Meanwhile, Flores was set to be interviewing for the job in the coming days following those texts.  If proven true, the texts were sent before Flores had interviewed for the position as the only minority candidate.  This timeline would prove the Giants' hiring process violated the Rooney Rule.  Also in the lawsuit, he alleges that Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered to pay him $100,000 for every loss the team had during the 2019 season.

While all of this is going on in the background, I want to look at the hire itself.  I, personally, think it's a great one.  In his seven seasons as a coach of the Patriots defense, the team won three Super Bowls.  Now, obviously, quarterback Tom Brady played a large part in that.  But, the Patriots defenses were tough to beat in those years and they were vital during their Super Bowl runs.  Not to mention, Flores has years of tutelage under Belichick, who many consider the best football mind of all-time.

This is crucial for the Steelers because of the role Flores is sliding into.  The linebackers have always been the key to the Steelers defense.  The team goes as they go.  Combining his knowledge with the abilities of linebacker, and now Defensive Player of the Year, T.J. Watt is lethal for opposing teams. 
Plus, Flores can also help others on the defense whose play wasn't as spectacular.  The first name that comes to mind is linebacker Devin Bush, whose play saw a considerable drop off this season.  If he can get him back to playing how he did when he was first drafted, that will go a long way in helping to improve the overall play of this defense going forward.

Going back to the Steel Curtain, the Steelers have always succeeded through their defense.  While there may be some off-the-field issues surrounding him, hiring Brian Flores to help this defense return to those old ways can only be seen as a positive.  He is one of the best defensive minds in the game and frankly, I was shocked he was let go by the Miami Dolphins to begin with.  To add a recent head coach who was successful with his previous team, to your team seems like a steal to me.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how he can make this defense better this upcoming season.