One of Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin’s most consistent sentiments that he likes to express in speaking to his team and his coaching staff is that it doesn’t matter where good ideas come from. There is a lot of intermingling within his staff, so that it’s not at all uncommon to see an offensive coach chatting up a defender, or vice versa.
One coach who has been popular on the other side of the ball this year is new senior defensive assistant Brian Flores, new to the staff in 2022 after spending the past three seasons as head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky has been picking his brain for his perspective on defensive tendencies all offseason—not just for his familiarity with their next opponent, the New England Patriots.
“Yeah, definitely, and not just this week. All the time”, he told reporters yesterday about his leaning on Flores’ expertise, via the team’s website. “Having Coach Flo in our meetings and just to be able to ask about defenses and what he sees from his perspective has been huge”.
Flores is widely regarded as a defensive coach around the league, having risen up the ranks under Bill Belichick in New England. That’s how he earned the head coaching job in Miami in the first place, and it was met with virtually unanimous surprise when he was fired this offseason.
Despite immediately interviewing for new head coaching vacancies, he failed to land a new top at the top of a coaching staff this offseason, and decided to accept Mike Tomlin’s offer in mid-February to join his staff, with all parties entering with the recognition that it would likely be a short layover.
Regardless of how long he stays—whether it’s just this one season or more—his impact has already been felt, and his experience as a head coach has proven valuable in his ability to communicate with the offense, and Trubisky in particular.
“I’ve been talking to him throughout OTAs and training camp just to get his perspective on defense, like what’s hard to cover, what I see from a quarterback perspective”, the quarterback said. “I think him being there gives us a good insight. What they may be talking about and how they may be game-planning for us. If we just keep those things in mind and have a good work week, I think it could be a good advantage for us”.
The Patriots know him well, of course, and their offensive play-caller, Matt Patricia, talked earlier this week about seeing some of his influence in what the Steelers are doing defensively, though it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where. A greater variety of sub-packages, perhaps, and more blitzing from the secondary, could be part of that.
How much will he benefit the offense? We’ll probably never see anything that jumps out and speaks to his influence, but if he can give Trubisky some guidance on how defenses would read him, one can only hope that it shows up positively in his performance, whether perceptively to us or not.