Dolphins head coach Brian Flores is living the dream
Brian Flores enjoyed a Disney vacation with his wife and children and also visited family in New York City this summer. He walked the park in Orlando and rode the subway in the Big Apple and the few people who recognized him were absolutely no bother to the Miami Dolphins’ coach.
“Any Dolphins fan is a friend of mine, so to take a picture with one is not a big deal to me,” Flores said Tuesday.
But the vacation prior to his first season as Dolphins coach is probably where Flores’ relative anonymity ends. Because starting Thursday when the Dolphins open training camp to the public with their first 2019 practice, the first-year coach and his young team are going to be in the spotlight.
And Flores is pretty juiced up about it.
“I have an extreme amount of passion for the game so excitement is putting it lightly, very lightly,” Flores said. “I don’t get excited about anything more than that — aside from my family, and my kids, This is real excitement.”
Flores will step into a job that has washed, rinsed and repeated good men over the years. He is Miami’s sixth coach in the past decade. But there is no talk of that or concern of any kind, really, from Flores in the hours before this training camp begins.
“I’m not going to sit here and say I have no worries,” the coach said during a wide-ranging interview. “But I will say I’m confident. I guess I’m wired that way. I’m confident in our ability as a coaching staff. I think we have a good group of players. I think these guys will work. They’ll get better and build and improve. I think my focus is on the positive more than anything.”
The 2019 Dolphins are not expected to compete for a championship or even challenge for a spot in the postseason, but don’t tell Flores that. He’s upbeat about his team. He understands there will be good days and bad, but he rejects the idea the Dolphins will be incapable of something before they try anything.
“I think we’ve got a lot of good players,” Flores said. “I do. I think we got good players. We have guys who are going to come out here and practice hard and communicate and try to execute. I think there’s good players on every team in this league, and training camp is a time to build the team. Teams win. I’m looking forward to working with this team. They’re my guys.”
If Flores does it right — and after a long conversation with him it’s hard to imagine he won’t — the Dolphins will reflect their coach. Among Flores’ goals for 2019 are changing the team’s approach and establishing a culture.
And if that happens, the Dolphins will earn your respect because Flores himself is worthy of respect.
“The identity of this team hopefully reflects what I see in myself,” Flores said. “Smart, tough, disciplined, fearless. Those are the core traits I’d like to think I have and hopefully the team will reflect those.”
Months ago, as the Dolphins used the offseason to seemingly build for future regular seasons, owner Stephen Ross talked of 2019 in sometimes grim terms. At one point he hoped the team’s record wouldn’t be “as bad as 3-13.”
What does Flores say to that?
“I say what I’ve said since Day One and in every conversation I’ve had with him, which is we’re going to go out and try to win every game,” Flores said. “That’s the goal. That’s the objective, really, every week. That’s my thought.
“If you don’t have that approach, then you’ll never reach your goals.”
Flores comes from an expanding coaching tree planted by New England coach Bill Belichick years ago. That tree includes some outstanding coaches and some coaches who have failed to live up to Belichick’s accomplishments. And among those who failed, some tried to be too much like Belichick ...
... except for the winning tons of games part.
Flores, the latest to blossom from the Belichick tree, promises he won’t try to be Belichick lite.
“Obviously I was there for a long time. He’s definitely an influence,” Flores said of Belichick. “But there are a lot of great people I’ve been around prior to that. I start with my parents. When I talk about my core values that’s where it starts.
“Belichick is part of that. And I have a lot of respect for him, but it starts with my parents, my uncle who got me involved in football, my high school coach, my college coach, some other coaches on the New England staff I have a great amount of respect for and pattern my coaching style after: Dante Scarnecchia, Brad Seely, Scott O’Brien, Bill O’Brien, Ivan Fears. ... Those are the people that molded me and that’s where I get the lion’s share of my identity from.”
And Flores promises to maintain that identity.
“I’m going to stay true to myself,” Flores promised. “If there are some similarities [with Belichick], then so be it. But I’ve got peace within myself that I’m being Brian Flores and not trying to be anyone else.
“I’m very confident in who I am.”