A hire a month in the making finally came to fruition Monday, with Brian Flores introduced as the Dolphins’ 13th head coach.
The day had all the trappings that such an moment deserved:
Pictures with a helmet and a happy owner.
Three precocious kids adorably interrupting Dad while he met with reporters.
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Talk of building things the right way, with cooperation and respect.
Exciting? Not really.
But it was credible, which is what the Dolphins desperately need after a generation in the football wilderness.
In fact, Flores’ most appealing trait for the Dolphins was not, as some have argued, his long-running relationship with general manager Chris Grier.
Rather, Flores now owns the keys to the Dolphins’ kingdom because he has gravitas, a long-term stability that Ross believes is essential for running any organization — particularly one about to go through a rebuild that even Flores acknowledged Monday will be “painful.”
“What we were looking for was a leader,” Ross said. “That was probably the most important aspect of what we were looking for, as opposed to, what we’ve seen in a lot of other teams looking for offensive-minded coaches because of the success of Sean McVay and some of the other great offensive minds. To me, you start a organization by signing a great leader. I’m really thrilled to say we have found that leader who can really take us into the future.”
Flores not only took apart McVay’s offense in Super Bowl 53, he got in his head Sunday night. McVay was shook afterward, acknowledging he was “out-coached.”
That didn’t go unnoticed in Miami, where emotions were mixed as the Patriots lifted the Lombardi Trophy for the sixth time.
But New England is the league’s gold standard, and the Dolphins are all-in on following their rival’s championship blueprint.
In fact, when Flores spoke Monday, you could almost hear Bill Belichick’s words coming out of his mouth.
“I believe in hard work,” he said. “I believe in putting the team first. I believe in team. I believe that people have to work together. If you want to strive for something great, you have to work together. There’s a selflessness in that. There’s a team-first attitude in that. I can’t stray too far. Those are more core beliefs.”
Those core beliefs got Flores a job he wasn’t even sure he wanted before sitting down with the Dolphins in early January.
The 37-year-old has spent his entire career with the Patriots, and said Monday that he “had a good job” up there.
“I wasn’t in a rush,” Flores said. “When I talked this over with [wife] Jenny, when we talked about it, we said, ‘We’re not going to be in a rush. It’s got the be the right fit. It’s got to be the right place. It’s got to have the right feel.’ When I met with [the Dolphins], I came out of that, I’ll tell you, I was excited when I came out of that meeting. That’s where I wanted to be. I’m thankful that I’m part of this organization.”
Grier, meanwhile, emerged from the meeting impressed, but not surprised.
He first met Flores in the mid-2000s, when both were scouts in the AFC East.
A mutual admiration grew, but Grier insisted they were not “super-close.” Translation: This is not a matter of Grier simply hiring his friend.
But they are kindred spirits, each a branch off the Parcells/Belichick coaching tree. Grier all but acknowledged Monday that Flores was his top choice to replace Adam Gase, and that the interview was more for Ross’ benefit.
“When everyone left, they were like, ‘Wow, what presence he has, in terms of vision and leadership,’” Grier said. “When you leave the room, it was everything – when you do the background checks on everyone, when you call people around the league, people he’s worked with and talk to former players, it was like, ‘Wow, this guy’s leadership, he’s a leader of men, the presence he has, the way he carries himself and how players connect with him and want to play for him, all of those things came through in the interviews.’”
Added Flores: “I think our vision and our core beliefs, our core philosophy on how to build a team, they were aligned. That was one of the things for me as I was going through this process, I told every team, if our beliefs aren’t aligned, don’t hire me. If they’re not aligned, it’s not going to work.”