Miami Dolphins

Former Canes great, Patriots star refused to talk Dolphins — until Flores was mentioned

Vince Wilfork: “You come in as teammates but you leave as brothers.’’

Former University of Miami Hurricanes defensive tackle Vince Wilfork talks to the media before the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame at the induction ceremony Thursday night, May 2, 2019, at Jungle Island.
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Former University of Miami Hurricanes defensive tackle Vince Wilfork talks to the media before the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame at the induction ceremony Thursday night, May 2, 2019, at Jungle Island.

Former Miami Hurricanes great and two-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots, Vince Wilfork didn’t want to discuss the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night when he was being honored as a new University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame member.

“I’m not concerned about Dolphins to be honest with you,”’ Wilfork said when the subject was broached with him in context of new Dolphins head coach and former Patriots assistant Brian Flores.

A reporter tried another approach.

“But the Patriot way that Brian Flores is trying to instill?”

Wilfork suddenly broke into a smile.

“Now I’m a Dolphin fan,”’ Wilfork said, laughing.

Wilfork and Flores both came to the Patriots in 2004, Wilfork as the Pats’ No. 21 overall draft pick and Flores as a scouting assistant who moved on to various assistant coaching capacities until he became a defensive assistant in 2011, then became the safeties coach 2012-2015 and the linebackers coach 2016-2018 (and defensive play-caller in 2018) after Wilfork had retired following the 2014 season.

Wilfork, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, was asked, “What can you tell us [about Flores]?”

Here was his response: “He’s going to give you 110 percent of everything he has. The one thing I like is he knows the game, not just offense and defense. He knows the game. He’s been taught very well. I had an opportunity to see Brian.

“When I got there he was kind of on the bottom totem pole but just the work he put in to be able to learn and be able to run a defense for the past [few] years, ever since Matty P [current Lions coach Matt Patricia] was the defensive coordinator. So, he learned from the best.

“I think you’re going to see an aggressive style of play. I think you’re going to see defensively them taking some chances. I think you’re going to see defensively where you’re giving different looks. You’ll see a smarter football team. And I think you’ll see a team full of confidence because that’s what Brian stands for. He knows what it takes to win.

“For them to be successful, the players have to buy in and trust him. Because I think he knows and he understands what it takes. If the players buy in and accept his coaching and his philosophy I think he’ll do well.

“How long will it take? I don’t know. But the NFL nowadays and all sports nowadays, if you don’t win on the first year or second year they kind of move on. But you can’t build anything having somebody there for three years and expect that you’re going to win something. It’s amazing how sports can bring a guy in and say, ‘Hey, you only have two or three years to show us that we’re going to win a ring.’

“It doesn’t work like that.

“He’s the right fit. He’s the right choice. You just have to stick with him and commit to having him as a coach. You’re getting what you want in a guy like Flores. So, as long as the Dolphins stick by him and the players trust and believe in him and have the confidence in him I think they’ll be fine in the long run. They’ll like what they’ve got.”

Here’s some of what Wilfork had to say about UM coach Manny Diaz and this year’s Miami Hurricanes.

Miami Herald sports writer Susan Miller Degnan has been the Miami Hurricanes football beat writer since 2000, the season before the Canes won it all. She has won several APSE national writing awards and has covered everything from Canes baseball to the College Football Playoff to major marathons to the Olympics.
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