Brian Flores on helping the Miami Dolphins win: ‘There’s definitely bumps in the road’
A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Tuesday:
▪ During his introductory press conference as Dolphins head coach, Brian Flores made clear he wants to play multiple defenses that change looks and try to get other teams off balance, as the Patriots have.
New general manager Chris Grier fully supports that — it’s clear they agree on many things philosophically — but admits it will be more challenging to put together a roster with front seven defenders who can play in a 4-3 or 3-4.
The Dolphins have played primarily a 4-3 in recent years. Playing a 3-4 would require Miami to add outside linebackers who can rush the quarterback.
Defensive ends Cam Wake and Robert Quinn can do that, but it’s doubtful Quinn returns in 2019 (Miami saves $12.9 million in cap space by cutting him) and Wake is a free agent and able to pursue other options, including a team in better position to win next season. It’s possible the Dolphins could try defensive end Charles Harris in that 3-4 outside linebacker role.
“It’s a little bit of a challenge because you are always looking for different pieces and parts, but a lot of teams bounce back and forth,” Grier said of a 4-3 and 3-4. “It will be a little bit of a project in terms of finding those pieces. There are some pieces here. [Flores] said he likes some of our pieces obviously going against us a couple years, especially some of the offensive pieces he liked a lot.”
Flores articulated the need to have versatile players on defense and mix up schemes/coverages/alignments this way: “Each game is different. Each opponent is different. Their strengths, their weaknesses are different every week, so every week we’re coming up with a different plan. A lot of that is tied to who you have personnel-wise, what we can do versus what they can do. It could be different every week. I think in this game, you have to be multiple. If you sit in one thing, the coaches are too good.
“They’ll find a weakness, they’ll take advantage of it. I think you have to be multiple and we’re going to try to do that.”
He told WQAM’s Joe Rose show on Tuesday: “I’m unable to say I’m 3-4 or 4-3. I’m not wired that way. You have to be scheme versatile. We want to be that.”
▪ Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Flores was the only one of the NFL’s new head coaches who received a fully-guaranteed five year contract.... Grier and Steve Ross weren’t the only ones involved in the coaching search. Ross made a point to acknowledge well-regarded team president Tom Garfinkel for his role. And Grier acknowledged New York businessman Matt Higgins (who runs Ross’ sports/entertainment operation) and Brandon Shore, the team’s vice president/football administration and cap guru in the post-Mike Tannenbaum era....
Found it interesting that Grier said he won’t share his opinion of Dolphins players with his coaches until after they watch tapes of those players and form their own opinions. He doesn’t want their opinions to be influenced by his. That process began Tuesday morning.
“I know this team fairly well from an offensive standpoint,” Flores said on that Tuesday morning WQAM appearance. “I don’t know them as people, how they work off the field. Is football important to them year round? That’s the crux of what we’re trying to get to the bottom of now.”
▪ Here’s something really impressive about Flores, as the Dolphins pointed out: With largely the same personnel, the Patriots — in their one year in which Flores ran the defense — improved from 25th to fifth in the NFL in takeaways, 17th to seventh in opponent passer rating, 20th to 11th in rushing defense and 30th to 22nd in passing defense.
▪ In hopes of finding another CFL success story like Wake, Miami’s newest project is Samuel Eguavoen, a 6-foot, 227-pound inside linebacker who had 81 tackles, three sacks, an interception and two forced fumbles for Saskatchawan last season, his third of three seasons playing for that CFL team.
The Dolphins worked him out after his season and were impressed. Ten NFL teams called about him, but Eguavoen — who went undrafted out of Texas Tech — thought his best opportunity would be here and signed with Miami.
▪ The rebuilding project gives the Dolphins’ a chance to invest more time in developmental players, and we hear one that they really like is cornerback Jalen Davis, who played very well in the Jaguars game with a sack, forced fumble and alertness in coverage. He will get a long look over the next year.
So will cornerbacks Cornell Armstrong and Dee Delaney.
Cordrea Tankersley, off a major knee injury, also will get another look but has much to prove after a poor 2018 training camp and start to the season.
▪ Count Dolphins special assistant Dan Marino among those pleased to see Grier get a chance to run the Dolphins.
“I’m excited for Chris,” Marino told WQAM last week. “He deserves his chance. I’ve always been a big fan of Chris, his nature, how he handles people, his knowledge. Great coaches have been here over the years, guys like Bill Parcells, Nick Saban. He gets it.”
We all have seen video of a pensive Marino and a pensive Stephen Ross watching Dolphins games together from a suite. So what’s it like watching a game with the Dolphins owner?
“He’s a very competitive man with what he’s done in the real estate business,” Marino said. “He wants to win. Watching games sometimes can be a little tense with him.”
Of his friend Tom Brady, Marino said: “I’m a little jealous, all those Super Bowls.”
Is Brady the greatest quarterback ever? Marino didn’t disagree, adding: “If you want to call him the greatest, that’s fine.”