The Miami Dolphins have done some unorthodox things during their search for the 13th head coach in team history. They were, for example, the only team this hiring cycle to interview Dennis Allen, Darren Rizzi and Dowell Loggains.
They cut interview times from the usual 4-6 hours of years ago to about 2-3 hours.
But despite these missions to find treasure in unlikely places and in unlikely ways, two candidates the team has been very impressed with were more conventional.
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In that order.
The Dolphins will try to hire Flores as soon as the New England Patriots lose in the playoffs, according to a league source. If that effort fails, then Richard would be the pick.
Multiple sources say both these men were highly prepared during their Dolphins interview, showed leadership -- something the Dolphins badly want out of the next coach -- and left the Dolphins excited at the prospect of getting either man.
A source said the Dolphins also liked the football acumen displayed by Allen, the New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator, during his interview.
No candidate involved in the playoffs can be hired until his team loses. That includes Flores at New England, Richard with the Cowboys, Dennis Allen with the New Orleans Saints and Eric Bieniemy with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Flores, 37, is in his 11th season as a coach with the New England Patriots. He is in his third season as linebackers coach after serving as safeties coach for four seasons.
Flores is the defacto defensive coordinator but has not yet earned the title. New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has previously kept that title back until a coach proves himself calling the plays on defense.
Flores is in his first season calling defensive plays for New England.
The Dolphins declined to comment on Flores or their coaching search in general.