Mike Tomlin Hires ‘Big Name’ Ex-Head Coach to Assist With Steelers Defense

Brian Flores

Adam Glanzman/Getty Images Head coach Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins exits the field after a win over the New England Patriots on December 29, 2019.

On Saturday afternoon the Pittsburgh Steelers made what has been described as a “stunning move.” They have hired former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, 40, as the team’s senior defensive assistant/linebacker’s coach.

“I am excited about Brian Flores joining our coaching staff given his history of developing and teaching defensive players during his time in the NFL,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin via Steelers.com. “Brian’s resume speaks for itself, and I look forward to him adding his expertise to help our team.”

As noted by Brooke Pryor, who covers the Steelers for ESPN NFL Nation, Flores is an “important and impressive” hire, with the Steelers getting “a great coach and leader and a big name to add on the defensive side.”

It also helps combat the narrative about Tomlin being less than willing to hire/promote coaches from outside the organization, as well as the idea that defensive coaches may be less than keen about joining his staff because of the level of control he purportedly maintains.

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Brian Flores is Suing the NFL, 3 Teams

Of course, there are special circumstances involved here. As per Marcel Louis-Jacques of ESPN, Flores is suing the NFL and three of its teams—the Dolphins, Denver Broncos and New York Giants—”alleging discrimination regarding his interview processes with Denver and New York and his firing last month by Miami.”

Specifically, Flores has alleged “that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross attempted to incentivize him to ‘tank,’ or purposely lose games, shortly after he was hired in 2019, with Ross allegedly offering Flores $100,000 for every loss that season,” writes Louis-Jacques.

“Flores also allege(s) that the Giants interviewed him last month for their head-coaching vacancy for no other reason than compliance with the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for their open positions,” says Louis-Jacques. Flores alleges that a similar scenario unfolded when he interviewed with Denver for its head-coaching job in 2019.

The Brooklyn, N.Y. native spent the last three seasons as head coach of the Dolphins, where he compiled a record of 24-25. He was fired in January 2022, despite a 10-6 record in 2020 and 9-8 record in 2021, the first time Miami has had back-to-back winning seasons since 2003.

Bill Belichick Gave Brian Flores His Start in Coaching

Flores played college football at Boston College from 2000-03, serving as a key contributor on special teams before playing a hybrid linebacker/safety role as a senior. He got his first NFL job in 2004, hired as a scouting assistant for the New England Patriots and serving in that role for two years before transitioning to a role as a pro scout (2006-07).

In 2008 he joined Bill Belichick’s coaching staff as a special teams assistant. Between 2008-18 he worked in a wide variety of roles on Belichick’s staff, including linebackers coach (2016-18) and safeties coach (2012-15).

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