Before becoming head coach of the Miami Dolphins, Brian Flores served in various roles on the New England Patriots' defensive coaching staff.
In 2011, he was a defensive assistant who helped that unit finish second in the NFL in interceptions (23) and tie for third in the NFL in takeaways (34). During his tenure as safeties coach from 2012-15, New England was sixth in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 20.3 points per game. As defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in 2018, the Patriots finished fifth in the league in takeaways (28) and tied for third in interceptions (18) on their way to a Super Bowl LIII victory.
In other words, Flores can recognize a strong defense when he sees one, and he thinks highly of the Rams' unit this season.
"Defensively, they pose a lot of problems," Flores said during a video conference with Rams beat writers Wednesday afternoon. "Talented, fast, disciplined. They tackle well."
Naturally, the attention of a former linebackers coach first draws toward the line of scrimmage, bringing up defensive lineman Aaron Donald. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year is second in the NFL in sacks with 8.0 and leads the Rams in tackles for loss with nine.
Flores also highlighted the play of cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who snagged his first interception of the season, and linebacker Leonard Floyd, who received a game ball after tallying two sacks and three quarterback hits against his former team Monday night.
"The first name that comes to mind is Aaron Donald, and he's a tremendous player," Flores said. "Michael Brockers is good. (Leonard) Floyd is playing well. Jalen Ramsey, as you know. I mean, they've got a lot of good players."
As for how that impacts the Dolphins' gameplan for their rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Flores reiterated his response to a previous question about it being a team game.
"Again, it's football, so it's never a one-man show. Eleven guys playing on one accord," Flores said. "And I see that, being a defensive coach and watching them defensively. I see a lot of good things. And that's kudos to their coaching staff and their players for putting the work in. They're seeing the fruits of the work they're putting in obviously."
Speaking of quarterbacks, Flores is familiar with the Rams' Jared Goff, having been on the opposite sideline in Super Bowl LIII.
Goff's 2020 season has more closely resembled his 2018 performance compared to 2019. So far, he's completed 67.7 percent of his pass attempts for 1,790 yards with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. Entering Week 8 in 2019, he had a 61.8 percent completion percentage and had thrown for 1,995 yards with nine touchdowns and seven interceptions; at that same juncture in 2018, 69.7 percent, 2,130 yards, 14 touchdowns, five interceptions.
"He was a very good quarterback then, he's a very good quarterback now. You've seen improvement on a yearly basis – getting the ball out quicker, making good decisions, just basically overall have command of the offense and leadership on that team. He's been very productive. He can stand in the pocket and make throws, he can get outside of the pocket and make throws. He's just a very good player on a very good offense."