Brian Flores hasn’t received the title of defensive coordinator in New England, but it’s clear Flores will be running the defense of the team run by Bill Belichick.
As noted by Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, Patriots coordinators wear headsets during mandatory minicamp practices, to simulate game conditions. On defense, Flores has the headset. Which means he’s the de facto coordinator.
One of the team’s defensive leaders has noticed a very real difference in the defense.
“He’s not backing down [and will] be more aggressive,” linebacker Dont'a Hightower told Reiss. “You could see it. I think this was probably our best practice we’ve had and we want to continue to build on that.”
The defensive apparently will be more aggressive because Flores is aggressive.
“I feel like he brings a lot of competitiveness,” Hightower said. “Flo has always been known as a straight shooter, a great guy, and a lot of times that’s what you need. He’s not one to babysit. I think a lot of guys really appreciate the attitude that he’s brought to us, just in OTAs.”
Hightower said that Flores and his predecessor, Matt Patricia, “are somewhat the same, but a little different at the same time.”
“With the playcalling we’ve gotten so far, I definitely feel like we’re going to be more aggressive,” Hightower said. “Things are a little bit more simple, but it’s still a little bit different, and guys are learning bits and pieces of the defense. But so far, so good. A lot of guys that have come in from different organizations, like [Adrian Clayborn], he’s picked it up and we’re able to run with it and we’re able to play a lot faster.”
Given the manner in which the defense performed last year, plenty of Patriots fans would say that any change is good change. But regardless of the scheme, the talent needs to be there. In recent years, it’s been fair to ask whether the team’s defense truly has enough of it.