Foxborough, MA - For years, the New England Patriots have thrived under a system developed by the man who is arguably the greatest head coach in NFL history, Bill Belichick, and both his left and his right hand man, Josh McDaniels (the offensive coordinator who almost left for the Indianapolis Colts this offseason) and Matt Patricia (the defensive coordinator who did opt to join the Detroit Lions). Now, though, fans of the team might be getting their first look at what a Patricia-less Patriots defense looks like since 2011. It will also be the first season without Patricia involved with New England in some capacity since 2003.

And while reports are conflicting as to how Patricia is faring thus far in Detroit, there is no denying the mixed emotions many feel in New England. Some will miss Patricia and his defensive scheming, especially considering the fact that Patricia was the defensive coordinator for three Super Bowl runs and two titles. Others have noticed flaws in Patricia’s coaching style and are happy to be rid of him (thanks for the memories), especially after the drubbing New England would have received against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII were it not for a highly potent McDaniels led offense. It comes as no surprise that many fans are happy that McDaniels stuck around instead of Patricia if only one could be saved.

While the Patriots do not have an explicit replacement for Patricia, linebackers coach Brian Flores seems to be taking a bigger role in the Patriots’ defensive unit. Arguably New England’s best, most versatile leader on defense, Dont’a Hightower noted that Flores has a lit a fire in the Patriots’ defenders during practices, resulting in a much more “aggressive” defense for the team. Hightower feels the defense is quicker and a little different, despite observing that Flores shared a great deal of similarities to Patricia in terms of defensive strategies.

Flores is not the official defensive coordinator, but based on the way Hightower has spoken of him, Trey Flowers has played for him, and Belichick has praised him (the head coach referred to Flores as being a great leader, intelligent, and hardworking), he might as well be.