The Seattle Seahawks defense isn’t championship caliber. They’ve been good, not great. Former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores can change that. But he needs to make one other key change for that to happen.
The Seahawks defense has gone from bad to mediocre to good and back down to mediocre this season. Well, good may even be a stretch. While they did rank as high as fourth in the league in points allowed, they still allowed long, time-consuming drives. It’s worth noting they reached that peak while playing third-string quarterbacks and bad teams. Seattle finished the season ranked 11th in points allowed. That ties Ken Norton Jr.’s previous best finish. That isn’t championship level.
And please, those of you who say Jamal Adams was a failure, explain why the Hawks surrendered 25 points to the Bears and 29 to the Lions without him. Yes, I know this could be used to bolster the argument to keep Norton, except for the fact that Norton has never produced a top ten defense.
The Seahawks also ranked 25th in takeaways this season. They managed just 34 sacks after Adams produced 9.5 himself last season. Like the old saw about Michael Jordan and Dean Smith, the only man who could stop Adams was Norton. A change needs to be made.
Brian Flores would recreate a nasty Seahawks defense
This brings me to a new candidate to replace Mr. Norton. There certainly is no shortage of candidates to replace Norton, as we’ve pointed out several times. But the surprising turn of events in Miami brings a new possibility to the Seahawks. The Dolphins fired Brian Flores and opened the door to a very intriguing possibility.
With Flores as the Dolphins head coach, the Fins defense has been aggressive and productive. Miami hired him precisely because of the defensive acumen he showed coaching the New England linebackers for three seasons.
In his final year with the Patriots, 2018, Flores called the defensive plays, although he wasn’t officially named the defensive coordinator. In three seasons, Flores linebacking crew led the Pats to finish first, fifth, and seventh in points allowed.
The Dolphins defense hadn’t ranked in the top ten since 2013, and dropped to 29th and 27th in the final two seasons before they hired Flores in 2019. Their scoring defense bottomed out in his first year as he didn’t have the personnel he needed to take full advantage of his cover-zero system and blitzing schemes.
But in 2020 the Fins defense rocketed to 6th in the league and led the league in takeaways. Miami’s points allowed dropped to 16th this season, but still produced 48 sacks and ranked eighth in turnovers. The Hawks ranked 25th.
There’s just one problem with Flores. Remember the key change I alluded to at the start? According to multiple sources, Brian Flores doesn’t always play well with others. Matt Serniak discussed this at length in his excellent write-up on the Phin Phanatic, but in case you didn’t read it, here’s a very telling comment regarding Flores:
Here’s another damning statement. Coming from Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, you might say it came straight from the horse’s – oh, yeah, mouth:
"“An organization can only function if it’s collaborative, if it works together,” Ross said Monday, in his first public news conference in nearly two years. “Communicate through collaboration.”“Different people rub different people in different ways,” Ross said, declining to comment on if he heard from some players that they did not want to play for Flores."
As Joe Schad wrote in The Palm Beach Post, Flores was seen as too demanding, too concerned with the Xs and Os, and not so much with the people that execute those plans, or especially those he needed to get him those players. He and Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa certainly had a difficult relationship. For the people who think there’s friction between Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson, cast your eyes to the opposite coast. Well, not now, because it’s too late.
So, if that perception is accurate, can Flores change? Pete Carroll is the ultimate players’ coach. There is absolutely no way he would tolerate any coach who didn’t work as hard as he does to foster that atmosphere, regardless of their expertise. Flores worked for Bill Belichick for 15 years. How surprising can it be if he treats people less than kindly? I mean, he was reared by a troll. But he also learned how to coach a great defense.
If Flores can coach defense – he can – and the Seahawks want him – they should – why would he come to Seattle, when he could get a head coaching gig in another city? The overwhelming perception around the league is that this was a big mistake, another in a long line of them. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think I’m reading too much into the Miami Herald article referring to this as an unjustifiable travesty. The clown-show owner is a nice touch, too.
Why take a coordinator job with the Hawks when he could be the head coach with the Jags, the Bears, the Broncos, the…need I go on? Those teams range from mediocrity – hello Denver – to abject swill. Yes, Jacksonville, I see you. The Seahawks offer a much stronger core of defensive players, even if they let the great Bobby Wagner walk. The Seattle coordinator gig has a hell of a lot more potential for success than any of the head coaching jobs available. There’s not a lot of prestige in dragging a three-win team to seven the next year. Flores could take this defense to the top five in about three heartbeats.
As for money, the NFL has no cap on coaching salaries. If Seattle wanted to pay Flores $3 million per year, they could. Jody Allen – or the Paul G. Allen Trust, to be specific – has deep pockets. Flores doesn’t exactly need the money anyway, as he just finished the third year of a fully-guaranteed five-year deal. The Hawks also have a 70-year-old head coach under contract through 2025. Flores would have just turned 44 when he makes the first pick of the Seahawks 2026 draft. If I’m the Seahawks, I’m scheduling an interview today.