The Patriots defense is missing Brian Flores’ energy and expertise. Is he a bigger loss than we even anticipated?
Is it time to question whether Steve Belichick really is God’s gift to the Patriots defense rather than, say, a prime example of nepotism?
For years, we’ve trusted Bill Belichick implicitly and assumed that we’d eventually be handing the keys to the defense over to another piece of his personal dynasty. But were there too many assumptions baked in there? Is the younger Belichick innovative, or stale?
And was Brian Flores the mastermind behind New England’s elite defense all along?
In a year in which we’ve been unnecessarily focused on Belichick’s legacy and the perceived hits that Tom Brady’s success in Tampa Bay is delivering to it, should we be looking elsewhere? Is Belichick’s reputation on defense disintegrating as Flores succeeds in Miami?
Is this reactionary? Sure. Without Flores in 2019, New England had the league’s No. 1 defense…until the schedule tightened up and all they had to do was defeat Ryan Fitzpatrick at home to keep a bye and Ryan Tannehill in Foxborough to advance in January. They failed both tests, and after a string of opt outs, have looked downright pedestrian and often bullied in 2020. Was Flores more important to the team’s infrastructure in Belichick’s later years than we’d like to acknowledge?
Of course, not only is Flores motivating a new unit these days, but he’s also doing it within New England’s division.
It’s going to sting if the Patriots defense looks lackluster under new management, but it’ll hurt twice as much knowing that Flores leapt at an opportunity to escape New England and landed within divisional shouting distance.
Wherever he goes, motivation and magic appears to follow.
It’s en vogue to mock Belichick and take potshots at his family this year, as the Patriots limp to a losing record for the first time in a pair of decades.
But before laughing off the criticism, it’s worth acknowledging that this team’s mantra on defense wasn’t falling on deaf ears when Flores was still coordinating the shots.