Know the Candidate: What could Brian Flores bring to the Browns?

The Cleveland Browns are conducting their second interview today for their vacant defensive coordinator position. After interviewing the former head coach of the Detroit Lions Jim Schwartz yesterday, they have the former head coach of the Miami Dolphins Brian Flores in the building today.

Flores has nearly a decade of experience as a defensive coordinator with the New England Patriots before getting the lead gig in Miami and served as a defensive assistant under Mike Tomlin a year ago with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Just as we did for Schwartz yesterday, today we will look at the defensive scheme of Flores and what he could bring to the Browns.

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Looking at Flores' coverage preferences

The Browns ran a great deal of two-high looks in Cover-4 coverage, mixing in single-high Cover-3 and Cover-1 looks. If the Browns look to bring in Brian Flores, they will still have their Cover-1 looks in man, but the uptick in man coverage overall will skyrocket. Flores is not afraid to rotate down, give Cover-0 pre-snap looks, and risk his backend support for front-end pressure.

The Browns have the cornerbacks to man up with anyone, and even Grant Delpit can hand with running backs and the occasional tight end. However, if the Browns are going to start gunning downhill with little support over the top, a true free safety who can get depth and cover range will be a massive, massive priority.

Over the span of his last two years with the Dolphins, they gave up a passer rating of under 40 when they dropped into Cover-0 and Cover-1.

Flores is not afraid to bring the heat

Flores is among the most aggressive defensive coordinators in the league when it comes to bringing the heat. In his last seasons in Miami, Flores ranked second in both blitz totals and blitz rates as he has no fear in reconciling the risks that accompany sending extra bodies at the quarterback.

He loves sending defensive backs out zero and one looks, routinely confusing quarterbacks pre-snap before dropping pressure off or sending more. Going from Joe Woods, who was quite gunshy at bringing pressure, to Flores would be a night-and-day difference for the Browns should they hire Flores.

What Brian Flores prefers to show up front

The Browns would make a shift from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense, but this is the smallest change. For the most part, the NFL is dominated by sub-packages, so base defense philosophy is microscopic despite the larger outcry and deal it is made out to be on the local media level.

The bigger shift, however, is in the fronts Flores decides to use as the Browns would shift to a tite look upfront rather than deploying a one-tech and three-tech. Perrion Winfrey and maybe an occasional look at Taven Bryan (should they re-sign him) fit this mold, however, that is where the list ends for defensive tackles currently on the roster. A true run-stuffing nose tackle will be needed.

Myles Garrett and Alex Wright would give the Browns a massive set of edge setters against the run, however, in base looks. Both have the ability to kick in and stick their hand in the ground as well as Flores could look to get exotic upfront and bring on pass rush specific guys off the edge.

What changes need made to defensive personnel for the Browns?

A shift to an aggressive Cover-0 and Cover-1 preference that Flores loves will not make a big difference to the cornerback room as Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome II are twitchy and sticky enough to hang in the hip pocket of any wide receiver in the NFL.

The biggest question mark in this defensive scheme shift, however, would be rookie cornerback Martin Emerson Jr. While he had a great deal of success in his first season, he is best suited in a Cover-3 or in backside poach looks where he has a bracket over the top. He does not move as well as the other two given his longer, less fluid frame.

Watching how Flores deployed Jevon Holland in Miami, there is an excellent blueprint for the success that an emerging Grant Delpit could have in Cleveland in this scheme. A true centerfielder at free safety that the Browns currently lack is a massive need from this group, however.

Upfront, using a 3-4 base would give the Browns a great deal of flexibility up front. The Browns need a big run stuffer in their defensive trenches one way or the other, so a shift to a tite front does not impact that need. If anything, allowing Myles Garrett the luxury to put his hand in the ground in three-technique, 4i, or five-technique looks in addition to standing up off the edge gives the Browns a great deal of versatility.

This plays into the usage of the massive Alex Wright as well, who kicked inside with a great deal of frequency as well. If the Browns kick Garrett or Wright in on sub-packages as well, they can also add speed rushers off the edge to bring onto the field to really get pressure up front.

Adding a true free safety, some sub-package speed off the edge, and an overhaul at defensive tackle will be needed in 2023 if the Browns hire Flores (or Jerod Mayo for that matter).

Final thoughts on Brian Flores and his fit with the Browns

Flores will bring a small shift to base packages, from a 4-3 to a 3-4, and shift to a title front upfront. These changes, however, are the most minimal of them all. The bigger shift will come in coverage and blitz philosophy where the Browns would get much more aggressive in Cover-0 looks and exotic blitzes and pre-snap disguises.

The hiring of Flores would signify a massive shift in defensive identity for the Browns. The hire at defensive coordinator will say a ton about who the Browns want to be defensively. If they hire a guy like Schwartz or Sean Desai, it signifies they are fine with the overall scheme but are seeking more creativity in how it is executed.

Hiring Flores, however, means the leadership in Cleveland wants a culture shock to the system. It signifies they no longer want to operate their defense from the back end first, but will prioritize what happens up front to force adjustments to the quarterbacks they face.

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Story originally appeared on Browns Wire