Rebuilding to focus on ’20 QB class
Tannehill successor on radar
Tank for Tua. Bomb for Fromm. that rhymes with Herbert.
The phrases will become cleverer over time when the 2019 NFL season gets underway.
But it seems the Miami Dolphins have already constructed their plan to improve the franchise.
Just don’t call it “tanking.”
The Dolphins may not be competing in this year’s NFL playoffs, but news of the organization’s strategy to rebuild the roster under a new head coach received national attention during the second weekend of the postseason.
While team owner Steve Ross and general manager Chris Grier signaled for a rebuild after firing former coach Adam Gase on Dec. 31, ESPN detailed some of the Something
cinnati Bengals reportedly set to hire Los Angeles Rams quarterback coach Zac Taylor, the Dolphins were the odd team out of the mix.
The optics of the Dolphins’ coaching search also did not look favorable for the franchise when longtime special teams coach Darren Rizzi and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains interviewed for the position earlier Friday.
Respectfully waiting for Flores and the Patriots’ season to be completed was ultimately not in the Dolphins’ favor during the NFL hiring frenzy of the week.
By having Flores lined up, he and the Dolphins can begin exploring assistant coaching options as early as Sunday night after the Patriots’ game against the Los Angeles Chargers as the other seven teams that made new hires fill out their coaching staffs.
In the minority: Flores, who is Honduran, could be the first Hispanic coach and the second black coach (interim Todd Bowles) in Miami Dolphins history. Flores is also the only black or Hispanic coach to be hired during this NFL cycle.
This is significant because four NFL teams fired black coaches after the regular season ended. The New York Jets fired Bowles and hired former Dolphins coach Adam Gase. The Arizona Cardinals replaced Steve Wilks after one season with Kliff Kingsbury. The Broncos hired Vic Fangio to replace Vance Joseph, and the Bengals will reportedly hire Taylor to replace Marvin Lewis.
If the Dolphins’ hiring becomes official, Flores will be the third black coach in the NFL, along with Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin and the Chargers’ Anthony Lynn.
Flores will also be the second Hispanic coach in the league, joining Carolina’s Ron Rivera, who is Puerto Rican.
The Dolphins would be the only NFL team to have a black coach and black general
More to know: Flores is the second-oldest of five children to his father Raul and mother Maria, of Honduran descent. He grew up in Brownsville, Brooklyn — one of the roughest parts of New York City — before playing running back and safety at Poly Prep Country Day Private School in Brooklyn. He was a standout linebacker at Boston College until he tore his quadriceps muscle during his senior year in 2003. Then, his 15-year career with the Patriots began in 2004.
Flores is known to be accountable, as he made an effort to tell his players it was his fault the Dolphins beat the Patriots on Dec. 9 thanks to Kenyan Drake’s last-second 69-yard game-winning touchdown, which saw Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski out of position on the field as the last line of defense.
“He’s definitely a guy that demands a high standard of excellence,” Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers said of Flores in a story published by the Providence Journal in Rhode Island. “You can definitely sense that intensity in the meeting rooms, on the practice fields, just that passion for the game that he’s got to be perfect, be precise, be fundamentally sound and physical. He’s a guy that demands greatness.”
Patriots safety Devin McCourty also appreciates Flores’ coaching style.
“He’s on us a lot,” McCourty said of Flores to ESPN. “He feels like we need to be an all-about-business defense, and if he feels like it’s slacking, he’ll get on us. If he feels like we’re having too much fun, he’ll get on us. I’ve enjoyed it. Leadership is something he’s meant to do. It’s in him, even outside of just X’s and O’s and football.”
Bucking the trend: In Flores, the Dolphins would be hiring a defensive coach, which is notable because of the league’s fascination toward offensive coaches and Miami’s knack for hiring offensive coaches in recent years.
In a league where teams are scrambling to find the next offensive genius to lead the way, the Dolphins are going in a completely different direction.
Although, it is important to note the Dolphins will likely be searching for their next franchise quarterback in the next two seasons, Flores will be hired in hopes of drastically improving the Dolphins defense, which surrendered the third-most yards and fifth-most points to opposing teams in 2018.
The Dolphins’ interviews of defensive coaches like Flores, Dallas Cowboys assistant Kris Richard and New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen showed Grier wanted to alter the franchise’s direction of offensive coaches like Gase, Joe Philbin, and the late Tony Sparano.
Flores would join Fangio as the only defensive coaches hired during this coaching cycle.
Familiarity is key: While they may not have crossed paths directly in New England, Flores and Grier have a similar NFL upbringing with the Patriots that makes Flores’ potential hire a comfortable one for Grier and the Dolphins.
Grier began his NFL career in the Patriots organization as an intern in 1994, as his father, Bobby, was New England’s vice president of player personnel. Grier then became a scout for the Patriots before his rise through the Dolphins franchise began in 2000.
Flores has been with the Patriots since 2004, where he began as a scout for four years, before he joined the coaching staff in various roles for the past 11 years. During that span, Flores has been a part of three Super Bowl victories and six total trips to the Super Bowl with the franchise.
Flores was the first candidate the Dolphins interviewed for their head coaching position on Jan. 4.
Grier hopes Flores can inject those Patriot winning ways into the Dolphins franchise as Miami attempts to navigate through a rebuilding process.