Curran: Brian Flores will have 'significant impact' in Pats-Steelers originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Pittsburgh's defense dominated its Week 1 meeting with the Cincinnati Bengals, forcing five turnovers (four interceptions, one fumble) in a 23-20 overtime victory. While the Steelers won't have reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt wreaking havoc this Sunday, they will have another X-factor: former Patriots assistant Brian Flores.
Flores was hired as Pittsburgh's senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach during the offseason after being relieved of his duties as Dolphins head coach. Prior to joining Miami, he spent 2008 to 2018 rising up the ranks on New England's coaching staff.
Our Tom E. Curran sees Flores making his presence felt early and often against his former team.
"I think he'll have a significant impact," Curran said Wednesday on "The Gameplan". "I talked to Mark Kaboly from The Athletic down in Pittsburgh, he's been covering the team for a long time, and he said that as a special assistant to Mike Tomlin, Brian Flores has already had a huge impact.
"When you think about it, remember the impact that Flores had in the wake of Matt Patricia being the defensive coordinator. You look at Flores elevated in 2018, the Patriots defense was tremendous. Put an unbelievable amount of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, allowed three points in the Super Bowl. Again, that's with Brian Flores as your defensive coordinator. In 2019, they have the Defensive Player of the Year in Stephon Gilmore. They were at some points at historic levels with that defense.
"He is a talented, talented coach. Probably more talented than the guy that he followed in Matt Patricia. So now he's on the other side, trying to go to work on a team that he's familiar with. It ain't a good recipe."
The moral of the story is the Patriots will have their work cut out for them against the Flores-led Steelers D. They'll need a major bounce-back effort after having three costly turnovers vs. Miami that were largely caused by breakdowns on the offensive line.
Although the 20-7 loss didn't inspire much confidence in New England's offense going forward, Curran still sees the Patriots putting up a fight on Sunday. That's because the Steelers' offense doesn't exactly strike fear in opponents either.
"Gotta be more than seven (points), but you know what? I think the Patriots could have their way with Mitch Trubisky and the Steelers offense," Curran said. "I love the way the Patriots defense played last week. So I'm going with, you've got to get yourself to 13 points. ... I don't think Pittsburgh's getting to double figures."
Kickoff for Pats-Steelers is set for 1 p.m. ET Sunday at Acrisure Stadium.