Barry Jackson

Dolphins hire defensive coordinator. And here’s what they can do now with Flores

Please scroll down for details on new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.

The Dolphins will need to wait two more weeks before New England Patriots assistant coach Brian Flores joins Miami as their next head coach.

But they can have contact with him this week.

Because the Patriots won Sunday’s AFC Championship game in Kansas City, the Dolphins aren’t permitted to introduce Flores as their next head coach until after the Feb. 3 Super Bowl.

But, as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Sunday, the Dolphins are expected to have a second interview with Flores, whom the Dolphins intend to hire, “during the [off] week before the Super Bowl to plan staffing and other issues.”

A league source did not dispute that report.

As Rapoport noted, “the club may commit to hiring the coach as its head coach” during that meeting.

But Flores won’t have time to begin evaluating the roster with general manager Chris Grier until after the Super Bowl.

Flores has been with the Patriots since 2004, serving a variety of roles -- scout, special teams assistant, defensive assistant, safeties coach, linebacker coach and this past season, de facto defensive coordinator.

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The Patriots’ defense this season finished 21st in average yards allowed but seventh in average points relinquished. Though Bill Belichick’s fingerprints are all over the Patriots defense, Flores is the team’s defensive play-caller.

New England’s defense did an excellent job pressuring and, at times, flummoxing Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes during the first half of Sunday’s AFC Championship, holding the Chiefs scoreless.

But the Patriots defense unraveled after that, allowing 31 Kansas City points in the second half and needing the Tom Brady-led offense to rescue New England.

Flores, a 37-year-old Brooklyn native, already has begun putting together his Dolphins staff.

The Miami Herald reported early last week that former Colts and Lions coach Jim Caldwell was positioned to be Miami’s assistant head coach, and NFL Network reported Sunday morning that Caldwell will be the Dolphins’ associate head coach and quarterback coach.

Patrick Graham, the Green Bay Packers’ linebacker coach last season, also is expected to join Flores’ Dolphins staff. And he will be defensive coordinator, ESPN reported Monday. Graham worked for the Patriots from 2009 through 2015.

Graham was a defensive lineman at Yale and has coached for three NFL teams - the Patriots (linebackers coach and defensive line coach), the Giants (defensive line coach in 2016-17) and Green Bay (linebackers coach and run game coordinator for the defense in 2018).

He began his coaching career as a grad assistant at Wagner (2002-03), then was defensive line coach and tight ends coach at Richmond, and a defensive graduate assistant at Notre Dame. He has worked in the NFL since 2009.

Graham, 39, has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Yale.

The Dolphins would like to retain special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi, who has time left on his contract, but have given him to permission to explore other options.

Rizzi has drawn interest from several teams and met with the Packers early last week but hasn’t determined where he will coach next season.

At least two other Dolphins coaches already have moved on, with defensive line coach Kris Kocurek taking the same with the 49ers and assistant defensive backs coach Renaldo Hill joining Denver’s staff.

Flores is expected to replace at least some of Miami’s incumbent assistants.

Patriots players, in comments made to multiple New England media outlets, have been effusive in their praise of Flores.

“He’s definitely a guy that demands a high standard of excellence,” defensive end Trey Flowers said. “You can definitely sense that intensity in the meeting rooms, on the practice fields, just that passion for the gamer that he’s got to be perfect, be precise, be fundamentally sound and physical. He’s a guy that demands greatness.”

“He’s a very passionate coach,” added defensive end Deatrich Wise. “A coach that wants to see you succeed. A very smart coach. Throughout the year, it’s been an honor playing under him.”

Safety Duron Harmon said of Flores: “Love playing for him. Love the energy he has, the focus. He’s easy to play for. I’m glad he’s a coach of mine.”

Besides the Dolphins, Flores has interviewed for head-coaching vacancies with the Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos this month.

The Dolphins also interviewed Rizzi, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, Cowboys defensive backs coach Kris Richard and Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen.

But the Dolphins ultimately decided to offer the job to Flores, who impressed owner Stephen Ross and general manager Grier during his interview.

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