Hyde: Flores is lat­est hot name

But even man­age­ment can’t know what they have in Flores

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Front Page - Dave Hyde

Dol­phins choose new, young coach with a de­fen­sive back­ground.

Well, it’s kind of of­fi­cial. The Dol­phins made their choice. They chose the hot, new, young name with a de­fen­sive back­ground in­stead of some hot, new, young name with an of­fen­sive back­ground.

What else can you say about New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots de­fen­sive play-caller/lineback­ers coach Brian Flores?

No, se­ri­ously: What can any­one say about the soon-to-be Dol­phins coach at this in­tro­duc­tory point to get ex­cited, con­sid­er­ing his un­proven tal­ent in a fran­chise with big­ger is­sues?

All eight NFL teams hir­ing a new coach think they’ll find the next, great foot­ball mind. But that’s wish­ful think­ing. The Dol­phins can’t know what they have in Flores any more than they did Adam Gase three years ago or Joe Philbin be­fore that. They can’t even make this move of­fi­cial un­til the Pa­tri­ots are out of the play­offs.

Flores earned re­spect for his de­fen­sive work with New Eng­land in a way that made Dol­phins gen­eral man­ager Chris Grier and owner Steve Ross no­tice.

Maybe some of the Pa­tri­ots’ magic comes with Flores. Maybe he is the next, great foot­ball mind full with strat­egy, mo­ti­va­tion, sur­prise and, let’s hope, a dash of hu­mor.

First ques­tion: What hap­pened to your Pa­tri­ots de­fense on the Mi­ami Mir­a­cle, that dou­ble-lat­eral pass, catch and run for

a win­ning touch­down on the fi­nal play against New Eng­land last month?

That play stings Flores twice now. He lost that game with the Pa­tri­ots. And now with the Dol­phins, that play caused his draft pick to fall from a wouldbe eighth to 13th over­all. Ouch. And dou­ble-ouch.

Not that any­one blamed Flores for that play. All the pub­lic blame went to Pa­tri­ots head coach Bill Belichick. That shows the um­brella that Flores op­er­ated un­der in New Eng­land, for bet­ter and worse.

Bet­ter, be­cause it’s al­ways good to learn from a top mind. Worse, be­cause who knows ex­actly what Flores did? And how much he mat­tered? And just what he brings now to the Dol­phins?

The Univer­sity of Mi­ami hir­ing of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Dan Enos mat­ters not just be­cause he comes from Alabama. He also might bring quar­ter­back Jalen Hurts with him.

New Eng­land quar­ter­back Tom Brady isn’t com­ing through the door with Flores. He’ll quickly see the dif­fer­ence. Flores was the Pa­tri­ots de facto de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor for a year. They were sev­enth in points al­lowed dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son. That’s nice, right?

Dol­phins fans aren’t overly im­pressed. That’s un­der­stand­able,

too. They can wish the new guy all the best with­out for­get­ting how they wished the best for Gase, Philbin, Tony Sparano, Cam Cameron, Nick Sa­ban and Dave Wannst­edt in the past two decades.

What new coach would have im­pressed you?

It’s a short list. Ei­ther Har­baugh, Jim or John. But nei­ther is mov­ing teams this off­sea­son. Clem­son coach Dabo Swin­ney would have. He’s the hottest name in foot­ball in the past five years. The Dol­phins surely called, right?

The only good and proven head coach among the eight new NFL hires is Tampa Bay coach Bruce Ari­ans. He wasn’t a fit for the Dol­phins. He doesn’t want a re­build­ing job where he’s the third-most im­por­tant fig­ure in the fran­chise.

First, there’s Grier, who will be charged with re­build­ing the ros­ter.

Sec­ond, there’s Grier’s big­gest de­ci­sion, the quar­ter­back, who isn’t yet on the ros­ter. And might not be next sea­son.

That’s the real is­sue about Flores. Not why a de­fen­sive coach was cho­sen with so many of­fen­sive ques­tions (that just puts greater fo­cus on his of­fen­sive staff ). Not if a first-time coach can suc­ceed (six of the eight re­main­ing play­off coaches are on their first team).

With no quar­ter­back, how much time does he get? In our mi­crowave so­ci­ety, NFL coaches are only given a few years to

suc­ceed. The Dol­phins no doubt promised to be pa­tient. You and I do, too. But check back in a few years. We’ll see.

The Dol­phins haven’t had a leader, a real leader who set a cul­ture, since Sparano left. Nor have they been de­vel­op­ing enough play­ers of late, es­pe­cially with their re­liance on 30-year-olds last year.

Back to the orig­i­nal ques­tion, Flores does bring a cou­ple of things to that ta­ble that set him apart from the other NFL new­bies. He’s the lone black hire this off­sea­son in a league that is de­cid­edly whiter on the side­line. Grier and Flores would also com­pose the league’s only all­black GM/coach tan­dem.

He’d also be one of the two de­fen­sive hires in a league that has a se­ri­ous of­fen­sive bias (Den­ver’s Vic Fan­gio is the other).

Im­pressed by Flores? Maybe not. And that’s fine. But they aren’t in Ari­zona (Kliff Kings­bury), Green Bay (Matt LaFleur) or with the New York Jets (Gase), ei­ther.

Dol­phins fans have been through this process enough to know it doesn’t mat­ter if you’re im­pressed or not right now. Part of you should con­grat­u­late Flores, con­sid­er­ing the ca­reer ac­com­plish­ment of his first NFL job.

Part of you should feel for him, too, con­sid­er­ing the re­build­ing project ahead.

CHARLES KRUPA/AP

Pa­tri­ots de­fen­sive play-caller/lineback­ers as­sis­tant Brian Flores will be the Dol­phins’ new head coach.

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