“Maybe I need more of a poker face,” Miami Dolphins coach jokes
Brian Flores’ smile is his tell.
During his back and forth with reporters, Flores is intentionally cagey when it comes to football strategy.
And when a question comes up he doesn’t want to answer — like Tuesday, when he was asked about his guards pulling or where Minkah Fitzpatrick would line up — he can’t help but smile.
“Maybe I need more of a poker face,” Flores joked Tuesday, when one scribe brought that to his attention.
It’s perhaps the only thing he didn’t learn from Patriots coach Bill Belichick, whose mug seems to be perpetually chiseled from granite during news conferences.
But Belichick’s broader philosophy on dealing with the media? There are some similarities. And there are some crucial differences.
“To me, this is obviously an open forum, but I’d like to, as much as possible, keep things in house and not give out a lot of information because other teams are watching,” Flores said. “If I tell them we’re pulling, we’re pulling all the guards or we’re going to play Minkah at corner .... I don’t want to put our team at a disadvantage.”
An example: Every time Flores is asked about specific injuries, his response is a variation of, “the injury report comes in September.”
The Dolphins, like most NFL teams, have strict rules as to what reporters can and cannot do during non-training camp practices. They can’t describe formations, plays or personnel groupings.
And they cannot shoot cellphone video.
But Flores even acknowledged that if that video went on Twitter, it probably would not mean much when the games begin.
“There’s just, at this time of year, it’s more one-on-ones, fundamentals, technique,” Flores said. “Your basic, basic install. So unlikely. Obviously, sometimes that stuff gets out. I’m conscious of our team. I don’t ever want to put our team at a disadvantage.”
Flores added: “You’ve got plenty of other stuff going on than to watch this grainy iPhone video. … But it’s going to happen. We want our fans at practice, when the time comes for that, to enjoy that experience.”
That’s not to say Flores is as inflexible as his old boss. He is far more open with his assistant coaches than Belichick. And he goes beyond what the league mandates in terms of access.
Belichick at times seems to want to actively thwart reporters doing their job.
Flores, meanwhile, seems open to being helpful — but only when he believes it isn’t giving away an advantage to Miami’s opponents.