Flowers, 27, is heading into his seventh NFL season (third with the Detroit Lions), and as training camp begins Tuesday, he talks the Lions’ new defense, the NFL’s COVID memo, delivering a winner to Detroit, and more.
Trey Flowers is a winner.
Proof of that is the two Super Bowl rings he earned as a prominent player with the New England Patriots. Now in Detroit, he’s with his second head coach in three years. Nevertheless, he’s aiming to make this year count, especially with all the new changes with the team. Unquestionably, Flowers is a vital part of the Lions defense. Unlike many of his teammates, he knows what it takes to win in the NFL.
Before training camp kicks off on Wednesday, Woodward Sports caught up with Flowers to discuss the upcoming season. And make no mistake about one thing. Whereas many consider the Detroit Lions are going through a rebuild, Flowers and his teammates feel otherwise. Above all, they’re looking to compete now.
Kory Woods (KW): Trey, thanks for taking your time to speak with me. I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask your thoughts on the NFL’s memo regarding the new COVID penalties that will be assessed to teams if an outbreak happens. How do you feel about it?
Trey Flowers (TF): In their eyes, I think they see it as they’re trying to protect the game, [and] not wanting to suspend the games. Well, not suspend the games, but not want to call off the games and have teams playing all different days. That’s where I think they’re coming from. Obviously, as a player, I feel like it’s just a way to kind of force their hand to get vaccinated. They’ve got a way of doing that. It is what it is. You take the risk or get vaccinated. And [then you] don’t take the risk. I feel like they’re gradually persuading people to get it.
KW: Thanks for answering that. Now the big thing I want to get to is the defense. Detroit Lions fans haven’t seen a 3-4 defense here as much as you guys will run it this season. So this is going to be some new territory. Based on OTAs and mini-camps, and just talking with your coaches, can you share your thoughts on this transition? And what should fans expect this season?
TF: I think we got into it last year. We did some form of a 3-4. Now, it’s probably going to be one of the base strategies that we will be in a lot more often. On an individual level or defensive unit-wise, you’ll get a lot of players out there that are ready to attack the football, make some plays, and fly around. That’s what you’re going to look for in any scheme of defense.
The thing about the 3-4 is that a lot of people think it’s a big scheme switch-up, but it’s really kind of all the same. Instead of having four down and three linebackers with a safety walked up, or a nickel DB walked up, bringing him into the box, and then put one of your linebackers there and brings him off the ball. It’s kind of the same thing. You’ve got the same gaps, just a little different look.
KW: During your time with the Patriots, they were primarily in the 3-4 base, and you were the Jack.
TF: Yeah, part of the time. As I said, all defenses have some form of it. You can look and say, “Oh, that’s a 3-4,” “Oh, that’s a 5-2,” you can say whatever it is. Call it different things, but it accomplishes the same. If you’re an end, you’re going to line up on the end. If you’re a stand-up outside linebacker or an off-the-ball linebacker, you just move to where the linebacker goes to the same gap. It’s one of those situations where everything is pretty much all the same. It’s still defense. You’ve still got to run to the ball.
[And] you’ve still got to tackle well. You have still got to make plays.
KW: Now you know many people are making a big deal out of your transition. Like, “Aw, Trey’s going to outside linebacker. What is this going to look like, and How’s it going to affect them?”
TF: It’s defense, so I’m still on the end of the line. I’ll stand up a little bit more. It’s just a transition to do. That’s why we have a training camp. That’s why we have an off-season to train and get prepared. Standing up, that’s the biggest difference, standing up most of the time.
For me, I think it’s going to be just a transition. [I’m] still doing the same job. It’s not like they’ve got me guarding wide receivers or something. I’m still setting the edge, [and] getting after the quarterback. Obviously, [I’ll] drop some time. I did that in the 4-3. It won’t be a big difference for me to adapt.
KW: Now, all of the rookies have reported to camp. And the team drafted a lot of defensive pieces this year, which I’m sure excited a lot of fans. I’m sure you’ve talked to some of those guys already. Which of the rookies are you looking forward to working with or imparting some knowledge?
TF: Levi [Onwuzurike], he’s one. And also Alim [McNeil]. From what I’ve gained, they look good as far as OTAs, doing drills, and stuff. They’re strong. As far as the linebacker crew, we’ve got a couple of young ones there. They’re ready to work, some pretty smart players.
I’m looking forward to it.
KW: Right now, all the teams in Detroit are kind of going through a rebuild. Your team, the Lions, are going through a rebuild, as stated. And you’re joining the Tigers, Pistons, and Red Wings. All the teams are going through a rebuild of some sort and trending upward. Is delivering a winner to Detroit something you and your teammates discuss?
TF: Definitely. We’ve been sacrificing time [away] from our families. [And] sacrificing our bodies. We don’t do it just to say, “oh, we’re out there to put on a show for the fans.” We want to win. [And] we want to put on some wins for the fans. We want to make the playoffs, championship, all of that. I know a lot of people are saying rebuild, but to us, we are not thinking rebuild. It’s too much that us as players do to say, “oh, it’s just a rebuild,” and then we just gonna take it easy, and you know we ain’t gonna do much.
Because you know it’s like, What’s the point in going out here risking our bodies if we’re not looking to win? We definitely want to win. That’s definitely at the forefront of our minds. That’s why we give our all out there.
KW: Thanks for taking your time to speak with me, Trey. Here’s my last question. What are your thoughts on this coaching staff? Specifically, Aaron Glenn so far as the defensive coordinator. And obviously, the big one, Dan Campbell. You know, the media is going at this guy. What are your thoughts on this coaching staff and how the media portrays and discusses them?
TF: They’re definitely high-energy guys. The energy they give is just contagious, as far as competition level. You’ve got to think about it. You’ve got about seven or eight ex-NFL players on the staff with the same competitive drive that they had on the field, back when they were playing. They’ve got it now [with] coaching. So they’re still competitive, still talking noise, talking trash. Their type of vibe is just contagious. I love it.
I look forward to just going out there and practicing. They’re talking noise to the offense, going against each other. It’s all love in a competitive way. I love it. It’s good for us.
I think all the players love it. It rubs off on them in the right way. I’m looking forward to it.
Note: This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.
On Tuesday, Trey Flowers and the rest of the Detroit Lions veterans will report to camp. Undoubtedly, the Detroit Lions are rebuilding. Despite that, it’s great for Lions fans to hear Flowers speak about winning now. And for the Lions to compete the way he’s talking, they’ll need Super Bowl “Trey Flowers” to show up this season. Furthermore, with him being one of the elder statesmen on the defense, his voice is needed.
Of course there will be a learning curve with this team. There are a ton of new parts. However, as Flowers stated, the Lions have a potentially great coaching staff. As a result, the expectations are high. Furthermore, fans will look to Trey Flowers to be a leader by example on Sunday’s.
Follow Kory Woods on Twitter at KoryEWoods.