Brian Flores was named as the new head coach of the Miami Dolphins on Monday, becoming the 13th man to hold that title. He takes over a franchise that has publicly stated they are in rebuilding mode, but make no mistake, Flores didn’t take this job with any intention of failing. He simply doesn’t work that way.
“I think I’ve had a lot of experiences in a lot of different areas of football organizations,” says Flores. “I feel like I’ve made an impact, and my overall philosophy is to help my players, help my coaches, help anyone I’m around become the best version of themselves. I think I’ve done that. I think I want to do that on a grander scale … Hopefully we get that done here.”
Those, my friends, are not the words of a coach preparing to tank and play for the highest draft pick possible in the upcoming season, as reported by various media. Whether the season plays out that way remains to be seen, but this writer is of the opinion that Flores did not come to Miami (and bring other assistants with him from one of the most respected winning organizations in the league), with any intention of not giving his all to put wins on the board.
Does this mean the team’s front office are already at odds on what the focus of this team will be going forward?
Not at all.
“I think our vision and our core beliefs and our core philosophy of how to build a team, they were aligned,” said Flores about the team’s philosophy. “That was one of the things for me, going through the process of interviewing. I told every team this – if our beliefs aren’t aligned, then don’t hire me, because if they’re not aligned, then it’s not going to work. If they’re not aligned, it doesn’t work.”
As Flores puts together his staff in the coming days and weeks, there is one constant that he’s looking for in each person he brings to work with him in Miami.
“There are some core values, core beliefs that I will take from New England,” he says. “I would say the number one thing there is putting the team first. I think that organizationally … that’s very important to me. I’m about being selfless. I learned this a long time ago – it’s hard for two people to trust each other, let alone 11. In order to get that, we have to have guys who put the team first, are selfless and want to work with one another to do what’s best for the outcome of the group.”
With those comments, fans can expect a notable change from past regimes, where coaches came in with systems and coaching concepts and expected the players to buy into their plan, and relied on those players to learn and implement those plans.
Instead, this new staff under Flores will be more focused on evaluating players, finding their strengths, and putting them in the best position to succeed. Weaknesses will be pointed out, with coaches tasked with teaching the players the best ways to improve, and to know the hows and whys of his job on every play.
“You fix that on a day-to-day basis,” says Flores. “Everyone tries to improve every day. You take it one day at a time. There is a selflessness and a ‘put the team first’ attitude that you have to have, and that goes from the owner to the general manager to the head coach to the people who clean up at nighttime. If you can get everybody to buy into that, then good things will happen. I believe that.”
Good leaders never put themselves above others. Good leaders note the accomplishments of even the smallest contributor to a team’s success. The fact that Flores mentions that in his comments is what gives this writer confidence that the Dolphins have finally found a leader who understands leadership. He isn’t here to rant and rave on the sidelines, he isn’t here to throw iPads on the ground and yell at players. He’s here to lead. He won’t demand respect, but he’ll work to earn that from everyone in the building.
And it won’t be easy.
The Dolphins have some good players on both sides of the ball, some core talent to build upon and exploit. But by and large, this is still a team with many holes to fill before it can be considered a contender. Flores knows this, and realizes that he’s facing an uphill battle to bring this team back into contention.
But he’s also unafraid.
“I would say that every week, we’re going to go out there with the idea that we’re going to win a game,” Flores said. “There’s going to be pain involved in that, too. There’s definitely bumps in the road. There’s no doubt about that. In this game, there’s ups, there’s downs. That’s part of this game. That’s part of leadership, dealing with adversity. There will be some pain. We know that. But there’s pain for every team. We had some this year in New England. We overcame them, and I think that’s the kind of attitude and resolve I want to see from a team that I’m coaching.
“Each game is different,” he continues. “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 that’s the case really across the board – high school, college and specifically in the pros... I think you have to be multiple and we’re going to try to do that.”
Hope springs eternal in the offseason of every NFL team, as they all start the year undefeated and with high aspirations. Flores comments give fans a lot of hope for the future, but it needs to be pointed out that this is a team in re-building mode and as such, players who are not considered to be contributors in the next 2-3 years are going to be purged from the roster as the team building with young players via the draft and prudent free agent signings (re. no big-money splash signings).
This will be a young team that will experience growing pains, but with a focus on core fundamentals, the plan is for the Dolphins to build from within and create a sustainable roster. This, along with coaches who know how to teach, will lend to a team that cuts down on penalties and mistakes, and win or lose, plays good, sound football.
“I think there are some things fundamentally that we are going to want to do as a team,” says Flores on this topic. “We are going to want to play physical. We are not going to turn the ball over. Those are coaching points you hear every week. Whether it’s a young team, old team, at the core of it, it is about getting 11 guys on the same page, and those guys have to work together.
“As a coaching staff, you’ve got to get the coaching staff on the same page. You’ve got to get the entire organization on the same page. You’re only as strong as your weakest link. That’s a cliché term but it’s the truth, specifically in football. So if there is a fracture in one place, that could be the difference between getting fourth-and-1 and not getting fourth-and-1. I truly believe that.”
Time will tell if the Dolphins have finally found the man to lead their team for the next decade. At the least, fans can take hope in the fact that the front office realized what wasn’t working, and they’ve brought in the man whom they think can correct that.
And Flores welcomes the challenge.
“I do believe that if you can get a group of young men to band together, to trust one another, to believe in one another, to practice and prepare at a high level, then you’ll win ball games. Period.”
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball.
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