ATLANTA — Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores sat on a chair on the floor of State Farm Arena on Monday night with a group of fans a few feet away from him wearing Miami Dolphins clothing.
It illustrated the weird state of limbo Flores finds himself in this week. He will be calling the defensive plays for the Patriots on Sunday against the Rams in Super Bowl LIII. Then, he is expected to be named the new head coach of the Dolphins shortly thereafter. Things can happen (see McDaniels, Josh), but this should be Flores’ final game with New England.
“Right now all my focus is on the Rams,” Flores said when asked if he will be the new coach of the Dolphins. “I really feel like I’m doing a disservice to the players if my mind is anywhere else but on this week, this game, and that’s kind of where I’m at.”
Still, there was a crowd of South Florida reporters around Flores at Monday’s “Opening Night.” They did a dance, knowing Flores cannot officially talk about the Dolphins job yet.
“I love these guys. I love every part of the organization, that’s kind of where I’m at,” Flores said. “I’m locked in. I would say the only thing I’ve done over the course of my career is take one thing at a time. Try to improve every day. I try to win the day. When you start thinking about other things in the future, you’re not focused on right now. So, I’m focused on our team, our players. That’s kind of my goal right now. That’s where I’m at.”
The 37-year-old Brooklyn native has risen through the ranks of the Patriots organization. He replaced Matt Patricia as the defensive play-caller this season after Patricia took the Lions head coaching job. Now, he will get his shot at being a head coach.
“I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I’ve arrived. I’m not built that way,” Flores said. “I’m constantly striving to get better. To hear that, it’s laughable to me in a sense.
“Arrived is something I’d never say. It would never even formulate in my mind. I think there’s always things I want to aspire to do better. This game, every year is different. Every year you’re starting over so you can’t arrive in this game. You’re always trying to get better. You’ve always got the next season, the next game, the next quarter, the next series. If you feel like you’ve arrived, that’s when complacency kicks in. Complacency is a silent killer in this league.”