Connect with us

Miami Dolphins

Brian Flores’ Biggest Advantage

Jason Hrina



Image Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Age may only be a number, but a lot is encompassed by the number of years we’ve roamed the Earth.

With age and experience we all (are supposed to) become smarter and wiser. We’ve been around the block a few times and understand how certain situations play out. We have a better understanding of who to trust, which process is the more-efficient, and, through trials, tribulations and failures, have identified how to solve our problems with a greater likelihood for success.

So with all of the known positives that come with acquiring additional knowledge and experience, the Miami Dolphins went ahead and hired a linebackers coach from the New England Patriots named Brian Flores…?

The last linebackers coach of significance for the Miami Dolphins was Matt Burke, and we all know how that story ended.

If I asked you three months ago who Brian Flores was you probably would have had no idea. You most likely couldn’t tell me if he was a player or a coach. Probably wouldn’t have even known which team he was part of. Heck, you probably wouldn’t have even guessed he was related to the NFL if the question didn’t hint as such.

So what did the Miami Dolphins get themselves into by hiring a head coach who had never been a coordinator in his career?

With age comes the type of experience and knowledge that doesn’t allow you to make the same mistake twice – and with that, the Dolphins hired their 6th-consecutive inexperienced head coach.

Previously, the Dolphins tinkered with hiring a commodity of a coordinator (Cam Cameron and Adam Gase), obtaining the “big prize” (Nick Saban and Gase), as well as unknown coaches who fit a certain mold (Tony Sparano – no bull****; Joe Philbin – genuine & sincere). After 5 failed attempts, you’d think the Dolphins would approach a more-solidified option than a former scout and friend of general manager, Chris Grier.

But see why, among all of the skepticism, why Flores has a huge advantage over his former counterparts.

Irrelevant Experience

A head coach’s prior experience lands them the job, but that doesn’t mean the results are going to be similar.

If Adam Gase taught us anything, it’s that no matter how smart or dedicated a head coach is, they cannot produce and win without the assistance of their staff.

Miami’s previous “proven” head coach was also a porn star, and the “proven” head coach they hired prior to Dave Wannstedt, Jimmy Johnson, needed owner Wayne Huizenga to beg for his return. Needless to say, it’s evident the team hasn’t gotten it right since they ‘gave up’ a 1st-round pick for Don Shula back in 1970.

The prior experience these coaches possess couldn’t bring Miami to an AFC Championship game, let alone a Super Bowl (let alone a Super Bowl victory). Jimmy Johnson was a 2x-Super Bowl champion and AP coach of the Year in 1990 and he couldn’t lead the greatest quarterback of all time deep into the playoffs. Dave Wannstedt coached the Chicago Bears for 5 years in the 1990s and, with Miami, had an impeccable defense that could have rivaled the 2000 Baltimore Ravens or the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers if the team had an offensive gameplan that was more intuitive than running Ricky Williams 775 times over a 2-year span (387.5 carries a year!).

Since the failed Cam Cameron experiment back in 2007, the Dolphins have tried a few different options at head coach:

  • Tony Sparano was a hard-nosed offensive line coach whose passion exhilarated the entire locker room, but he and his coaching staff failed to gameplan accordingly.
  • Joe Philbin was very nice guy and logically built his Dolphins coaching staff to coincide with the addition of Ryan Tannehill.
    • Mike Sherman, Tannehill’s head coach at Texas A&M, was brought on as the team’s offensive coordinator.
    • Recently hired Cincinnati Bengals head coach, Zac Taylor, was also brought on to be the quarterback’s coach. Taylor is Sherman’s son-in-law and, prior to the gig with Miami, had no coaching experience.
  • Adam Gase is addicted to football and carried a welcomed swagger to the Dolphins, but he relied too heavily on a sub-par coaching staff that ultimately betrayed him and led to his (possibly premature) firing in Miami.

What a coach has already accomplished doesn’t necessarily translate to their next head coaching gig.

Sparano coached a Dallas Cowboys offensive line from 2005-2007 and averaged 14th in rushing offense during that time. Philbin was the offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers from 2007-2011 and averaged 6th in total offense during that time. Adam Gase won a Super Bowl with Peyton Manning and orchestrated Jay Cutler‘s best season in the NFL; and yet, all three of these coaches weren’t able to mimic their prior success.

Miami averaged 12th in rushing offense during Sparano’s tenure as head coach, but the offensive line was consistently in shambles. Philbin’s offenses averaged 24th in total offense during his tenure, and Gase averaged 27th in total offense during his.

We are all raving about Flores’ dominant game-planning that shut down the Kansas City Chiefs for an entire half and shut out the Los Angeles Rams for, essentially, an entire game, but is that game plan guaranteed to migrate to Miami?  Miami doesn’t have the same culture, the same collective scheme, and same personnel as the Patriots. Flores will try and recreate the Dolphins in his image, taking plenty of knowledge and experience with him from his previous employer, but will it be enough to overtake the evil empire up north?

The Patriot Way to Failure

Past results do not guarantee a similar outcome, and if Miami’s history of head coaches has you queasy, check out the list of head coaches that have spawned from the Bill Belichick coaching tree:

Most of Bill Belichick’s defectors have failed in the NFL; with Bill O’Brien being the only “winning” coach. While I’m not instantly writing off Brian Flores due to the failures of Belichick’s past coaches, I am certainly not buying into the notion that Miami is suddenly a franchise that is to be respected.

There is nothing the Dolphins have done over the past two decades that warrants respect.

If Flores is able to establish a legitimate quarterback, the task will be much easier. Among the above coaches, only Matt Patricia and Bill O’Brien have respectable starting quarterbacks, and neither quarterback is dominant enough to shoulder their team through the playoffs.

Yes, we can get excited about the possibilities this opens up for Xavien Howard (though he developed into a top-5 cornerback under Matt Burke, so I’m not sure how much more we can ask of him) or what this may finally mean for our nonexistent run defense, but it’s nothing more than a prayer at this point.

Flores’ game plans in the playoffs and close connection to the dark lord himself (Belichick) have us giddy, but the smartest moves he’s made have nothing to do with player personnel. With his inexperience comes a lot of potential surprises and mistakes; and by obtaining experienced coaches from around the league, Flores is able to minimize these potential pitfalls.

Staff Appreciation Day

Now, yet again, we have a fresh start with an inexperienced head coach – giving us fans a reason for excitement, hope, optimism and an excuse to spend some extra money we’d otherwise save out of frustration for this team’s lack-of-success.

This is the most obvious and cliche statement I could make, but we really have no idea what Brian Flores and his staff are going to provide for the Dolphins.

With that uncertainty in mind, we can view the coaching staff he’s assembled and either cringe or sigh in relief. And if I were you, I would be more relaxed than I would be panicked.

Take a look at the coaching staff assembled by the past 3 Miami head coaches:

For one, Flores is the most-experienced head coach of the bunch. He only has a couple more years of experience than Adam Gase, but his extra time under Bill Belichick’s staff may prove more valuable than Gase bouncing around from the Denver Broncos to the Chicago Bears and then to the Dolphins.

Flores also has the most experienced coordinator group out of the bunch. All of Flores’ coordinators have at least 10 years of coaching experience in the NFL. In fact, only 4 position coaches have less than 10 years, and only one of them has less than 5.

You could even eliminate the assistance of Jim Caldwell and Dom Capers and Flores would still have the most-experienced staff by 37 years.

No, this has nothing to do with the fact that Flores has poached multiple coaches from Bill Belichick’s staff. I don’t expect Miami to replicate New England, but I expect Flores’ and the rest of his coaching staff’s experience in the NFL to translate much better than the prior regimes have faired.

After initially believing Stephen Ross and the Miami Dolphins “settled” for Flores, it appears the team is finally learning from their mistakes. Ross is no longer reaching for the shiniest object, nor is he forcing a marriage to work.

If the Miami Dolphins have matured at all since 2000, we’ll be the beneficiary of better results. And if Flores’ staff is any indication of the future, Miami appears to have finally gotten it right.

Growing up a passionate Dolphins fan in Jets territory, Jason learned from an early age that life as a Dolphins fan wasn’t going to be easy. Previously the Sports Editor for his university newspaper, Jason has experience writing columns, creating game recaps and conducting interviews with Hall of Fame athletes (Harry Carson and Yogi Berra are two of his proudest interviews). When he’s not dissecting the latest sports news, you can find him perplexed over the Dolphins offensive line woes or involuntarily introducing music to his neighbors.



  1. Gabriel Markman

    Gabriel Markman

    February 8, 2019 at 6:11 pm

    Great read. Gase had the potential to be great, but a head coach is only as successful as his staff allows them to be. Looks like Miami left no stone unturned this time around.

    • Niamor

      February 8, 2019 at 8:59 pm

      i hate to be that guy, but i see it repeated too often.

      Adam Gase never WON a super bowl. he was OC when Seattle beat them.

      he went with John Fox to Chicago. When Peyton won with Denver, Gary Kubiak was the coach.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Sign Chris Reed

Jason Hrina



Image Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Looks like the Miami Dolphins have begun replacing the plethora of offensive linemen they either released or let walk this past offseason.

According to the Dolphins official social media account, the team signed offensive guard Chris Reed.

Details of the contract are currently unknown, but with the losses of Ja’Wuan James, Ted Larsen, Josh Sitton and possibly even players like Jake Brendel and Travis Swanson, the Dolphins need bodies to fill out their roster.

After signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent out of the 2015 NFL draft, Reed was placed on the team’s practice squad and wasn’t activated until September, 2016. Over the past three seasons, Reed has been active for 25 games and started 8 of them.

You can’t expect too much from this signing, as Reed is simply expected to compete for depth on the offensive line and it’s possible he doesn’t even make the team out of training camp. Then again, Ted Larsen was originally supposed to be offensive line depth and he ended up playing 1,272 snaps over the course of his two-year Dolphins career.

Continue Reading

Miami Dolphins

Rebuilding Previous Rebuilds

Jason Hrina



Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Now that we have accepted the notion that the Miami Dolphins are going to start rebuilding their franchise in 2019 (and as a result, a lot of losing will incur), we have moved on to the optimistic hope that this team is going to build their foundation “right”.

Hope is about the only thing that will temper the frustration that comes with going 6-10 with freshly signed Ryan Fitzpatrick as our starting quarterback, so over the next calendar year, you’re going to hear how most decisions are geared towards 2020.

Sure, Fitzpatrick will dazzle us with a couple 400-yard passing games and a few offensive performances that trick us into believing that we don’t need to desperately grab a franchise quarterback, but don’t let those extremely inconsistent anomalies fool you. Miami most definitely needs a franchise quarterback – one that leaves us with minimal doubts at the top of the draft.

Are they going to trade up for one in 2019? Or are they going to, um, conveniently lose in 2019 and attempt to save their assets for 2020, where there’s a chance that four starting-caliber quarterbacks come out of college – all of whom are possibly better than the top-2 quarterbacks in this class: Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray?

As Travis echoed on Sunday, the Miami Dolphins are building a treasure trove of draft picks that will allow themselves to navigate the murkiest of trade waters in either 2019 or 2020. With the trade of Ryan Tannehill to the Tennessee Titans netting Miami an extra 4th-round draft pick – along with the assumption that losing Ja’Wuan James to the Denver Broncos will return an extra 3rd-round pick as a compensatory selection – Miami will have the ability to tack on whichever mid-round picks are required to seal the deal for a top-3 draft pick.

But with all of these assets in mind, can we confidently assume that the Dolphins are just one year away from being a relevant franchise that can sustain success? No, not one bit.

Since Chris Grier took over as the Director of College Scouting in 2007, Miami has had 5 drafts in which they have had at least 9 draft picks to work with. Although it’s obvious that not every draft pick is going to pan out, the assumption is that a team should be able to identify enough cheap labor to fill their roster. You don’t need superstars in every round, though it would be nice if the Dolphins drafted even one of them.

Before you get ready to soak in the success of 2020, I’m going to remind you of the somber past we have together. Hopefully, Grier doesn’t allow history to repeat itself:


Chris Grier’s first year on the job yielded Miami with multiple draft steals, but came with an ample amount of draft busts as well.

Whether the selection was general manager Randy Mueller‘s, head coach Cam Cameron‘s, Grier’s, or a combination of the three, the Miami Dolphins shocked everyone by selecting Ted Ginn Jr with the 9th-overall pick in the draft.

Choosing Ted Ginn Jr over Brady Quinn proved to be the correct choice, but was Ginn really the player you wanted to commit a top-10 pick to? Especially when he was coming off of an injury and was seen more as a dynamic kick returner than an elite, #1 receiver?

Here are a few players taken shortly after Ginn was picked #9: Patrick Willis (11), Marshawn Lynch (12) and Darrelle Revis (14). I was going to include Lawrence Timmons (15th-overall), but I don’t think Miami fans are going to think too fondly of that linebacker (though let’s be honest, he was still a better pick than Ginn).

But the Miami Dolphins had 10 draft picks in 2007, and should have been able to build a team with more than just a failed 1st-round pick, right? Alas, this is what they graced us with that year:

Paul Soliai in the 4th-round and Brandon Fields in the 7th-round ended up being phenomenal choices for the Dolphins, as both players combined to play 227 games with Miami. Even Samson Satele was a good selection in the 2nd-round; Miami just doesn’t understand their own talent and allowed Satele to be a good starting center for two other teams instead of their own.

The rest of that draft class? Combined to be active for 32 games with the Dolphins. All of which were off the team by the start of the 2008 season.


Coming off of a 1-15 season that felt less like a rebuild and more like a purgatory, the Dolphins were now poised to genuinely begin their ascension with the 1st-overall selection in the draft.

The thing is, Miami’s biggest mistake wasn’t selecting Jake Long with the #1 overall pick, but bringing an archaic Bill Parcells on board to build a team for the future.

Parcells figured there was no sense having a franchise quarterback if there was no one to protect him (the opposite logic of what the Dolphins did with Ryan Tannehill throughout his career), and selected Jake Long to protect whoever’s blindside.

You might be able to excuse Parcells for selecting a potential hall of fame left tackle (for the first four years of their career) over Matt Ryan, since Miami did have 8 more draft picks that year. Instead, this is how the draft shook out:

Kendall Langford was a solid player on the Dolphins defensive line throughout his rookie contract, but other than Jake Long he was the only player to plug a hole on the roster. You can say Chad Henne played prominently for the Dolphins, but we all know he was a detriment more than a solution, and even forced Miami to pick yet another quarterback in the 2nd-round the following draft.

Phillip Merling gave us that exciting interception against Brett Favre and the New York Jets the year Chad Pennington led the team to the playoffs, but other than that, he was basically an extra 1st-round pick that ended up being a complete bust.

After two years and 19 draft picks, the Dolphins should have set themselves up to be a young team worth reckoning with. Looking back, there were really only 5 players that filled a capable roster spot: Satele, Soliai, Fields, Long and Langford. For reference, NFL rosters held 52 players…


After two failed drafts and nearly 19 wasted draft picks, the Miami Dolphins actually got a draft right. This comes with the caveat that it’s the third-consecutive year in which the team is selecting a quarterback in the 2nd-round, so it tells you just how lost the Dolphins really are.

Pat White was a fascinating college athlete to watch, but he had no business being a quarterback in the NFL. The football community was stunned to see White selected so high, but the Dolphins envisioned a quarterback that could complete their wildcat offense and keep opposing defenses confused at all times.

The only confusion White caused was on Miami’s offense, because the playbook was extremely small for the limited quarterback, and the offense was stale at best.

Miami’s best selections came from Vontae Davis and Sean Smith. The team also envisioned having a pair of young, cheap, shutdown corners to give Tom Brady, Brett Favre and whoever the Buffalo Bills had hell. And they were really onto something for a little bit, but Joe Philbin‘s inability to handle egos mixed with some immaturity on the player’s side “forced” the Dolphins to trade Davis and allow Smith to leave in free agency.

At the time, this was a very good draft, but looking back at it, it’s just some more disappointment:

Brian Hartline received a contract extension with the team and probably outperformed all of our expectations. Maybe it speaks to the lack of playmakers the Dolphins have had over their history, but Hartline has the 7th most receiving yards and 9th most receptions in Dolphins history. We can knock the extension as a separate topic, but selecting Hartline in the 4th-round was a very good draft pick.

Chris Clemons ended up playing 80 games with the Dolphins and served as a valuable depth player for 5 seasons.

This can be deemed a good draft for the Dolphins, but the problem is, we’re excited the team was able to find 3 starters. While every team would love to say they found 3 starters in each draft, the Dolphins didn’t have much of a roster around those guys, which meant the team hadn’t rebuilt much of anything up to this point.

A budding franchise looking to sustain success is going to need more than a good #3 receiver to escape mediocrity.


2012 was another very good draft for the Dolphins that saw virtually no sustained success going forward. This is the point where you have to wonder if the Miami Dolphins legitimately try to win or if they’re fine creating media headlines and bringing in ad revenue.

Ryan Tannehill was the first 1st-round quarterback the Dolphins selected since Dan Marino back in 1983. Between all of the excitement and optimism, fans were sold on the fact that Tannehill was going to turn the team around (after he firmly learned the quarterback position). His old coach at Texas A&M, Mike Sherman, was set to be his offensive coordinator, so you know Miami was really building this thing right because, you know, “chemistry”.

7 seasons later, and there are no surviving members of the 2012 draft class. In fact, only one of them made it past year 4 (Tannehill) – which also happens to be the same number of players eventually arrested from this draft class (Jonathan Martin).

How can a team sustain success when the team doesn’t sustain any of their successful players?

Olivier Vernon and Lamar Miller proved to be great risks that Jeff Ireland took. Coming right out of the Dolphins backyard from the University of Miami, Vernon and Miller were underclassmen that Ireland saw potential in. And he was right.

Both outperformed their draft status and earned themselves wealthy contracts in free agency. This goes back to the argument that the Dolphins are incompetent when it comes to signing their own draft picks, so overall, this draft doesn’t seem like much, but this draft could have been much more than a free agent payday for 3 of their selections.

Rishard Matthews was one of the best 7th-round picks in Dolphins history, but Philbin’s deadpan personality placed Matthews on the bench for most of his rookie contract rather than the starting lineup ahead of players like B.J. Cunningham and Legedu Naanee.

As of 2019, the Dolphins are still looking for a player at every position from the list of 2012 draft picks (QB, RT, DE, TE, LB, WR and DT). You can say Miami doesn’t need a running back, but that’s also the easiest position to find and it’s not even like the team currently has a solidified running back room anyway.


Identifying a “can’t-miss” athlete in an inactive market, Jeff Ireland made one of the best draft-day trades of the century and traded the team’s 1st-round pick (12th-overall) and 2nd-round pick (42nd-overall) to move up to #3 overall. That kind of trade would be unheard of today, where those top picks are commodities that you have to pry away with current and future draft capital.

So what did the Dolphins do with their robbery? Select a stellar athlete with a history of demons that rivals that of Josh Gordon.

Dion Jordan was built to be a football player, but he never actually wanted to be a football player. He wanted to escape reality and realized this was a profession he was good at. Fortunately for Jordan, but unfortunately for the Dolphins, Jordan took 5 years to mature past all of those inner turmoils and emerge as a defensive threat.

But like the theme of this article, his success doesn’t benefit the Miami Dolphins one bit.

Dion Jordan wasn’t the only player to fail Miami’s expectations yet perform better elsewhere.

2nd-round pick Jamar Taylor was always hampered by injuries and was shipped to the Cleveland Browns for a 27 slot draft boost in the 7th-round (a farcry from #54 overall). Dion Sims was a solid backup and blocking tight end before cashing in with the Chicago Bears. Mike Gillislee was a decent kick returner who has seen a good amount of success as a running back with the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots. Even Caleb Sturgis was viewed as a “bust” and has since played 36 games for other teams.

You could argue that Don Jones was Miami’s best draft pick behind Dion Sims that year, and that’s only because he was a very good gunner on special teams.

Truth is, the Dolphins have had plenty of opportunities to rebuild and yet, years later, here we are, still trying to rebuild. So now that Chris Grier has ultimate control, will this be the rebuild the Dolphins finally turn it around? 6th time’s a charm, right?

Continue Reading

Miami Dolphins

Free Agent Analysis: Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick

Travis Wingfield



Buckle up, Phins Fans – the Fitzmagic Roller Coaster is coming to your town

Ryan Fitzpatrick is on his eight NFL team following a circuitous route that spans 14 seasons as a professional football player. The journeyman stopgap heads to America’s retirement home on a two-year contract that starts at $11 million and could escalate to $20 million if unspecified incentives are met.

Though details of the contract’s structure are not yet available, it’s a near certainty that the bulk of the money will be paid out in year-one. With the Dolphins eating a chunk of dead cap, and pushing assets down the road, this move not only helps Miami get closer to the salary floor, it secures a sturdy backup quarterback for the 2020 season.

Whether it’s Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Fromm or any other quarterback prospect, Fitzpatrick has been heralded for his calm demeanor and approach to providing this very important element to his past teams.

Barring a trade-up for one of the top two prospects in this draft Fitzpatrick will be under-center when the Dolphins open the season on the second Sunday in September. Only one September ago, Fitzpatrick was on an unprecedented roll for a quarterback of his caliber – of any caliber, really.

After the three-game stretch of consecutive 400 yard outputs, Fitzpatrick throttled into a nosedive throwing for less than 250 yards in four of his next five starts. Cumulatively, his passer rating on the season was 100.4, but he failed to eclipse the 90.0 mark in all but one of his final six starts.

The strengths and weaknesses of Fitzpatrick’s game are abundantly clear. Where the flashes with Ryan Tannehill provided false hope, Fitzpatrick is an open book – it only takes a couple of games of all-22 to figure out exactly who he is.

First, the strengths. I’ve talked at length about the importance of a backup quarterback providing the locker room and huddle with a sense of comradery. Whether it’s this season or next, Fitzpatrick will eventually be relegated to the number-two QB. The Ewing Theory suggests that the rest of the roster can elevate its game when the backup enters the lineup, but that typically only applies when said backup is likable.

That clip also showcases the gamer-mentality of Fitzpatrick. With reckless abandon, he’ll take a hit for his team in a way you’d never want your franchise quarterback to play.

As for Fitzpatrick the starter, the strength of his game is also his biggest weakness. He trusts his eyes as much as any quarterback going right now and will let ‘er rip without hesitation. There’s a hint of Matt Moore in his game where he evaluates pre-snap and makes quick decisions based on the leverage of the defense.

The first touchdown of the season for Tampa Bay provides a terrific example of Fitzpatrick’s ability to move the defense with his eyes and hips. The clip also showcases his strength as a play-action passer when given a comfortable pocket.

There’s a reason he’s been on eight teams in 14 years, however. That anticipation, coupled with sloppy mechanics, gets him into a lot of hot water. If the defense is at all nuanced, and capable of disguising coverage, he’s going to turn the ball over a heck of a lot.

Randomly, the ball will sail as he is prone to rushing his setup and spraying bullets all over the field. Pressure in his face only amplifies this shortcoming.

All things told, this was the best veteran option available both in terms of playing time and veteran mentor to the inevitable draft pick coming in a year or two. There will be equal parts excitement and sheer frustration with Fitzpatrick playing in Miami.

As far as the Tank for Tua conversation, this signing likely solidifies that Miami will not be the worst team in football. I’ve argued that they would never reach those valleys to begin, even with a rookie or Luke Falk under-center. I believe too strongly in Brian Flores and the staff he has assembled for this team to lose a number of games in the teens. Fitzpatrick at least gets Miami out of the massive hole of unworthy NFL quarterback territory.

Ideally, the Dolphins find their quarterback straight away and never have to start Fitzpatrick. The more likely outcome is that he starts the season and puts the Dolphins in a tough spot regarding the playing time incentives in his contract.

This signing is great from a financial standpoint right now, but if the Harvard product (had to get it in) starts hitting those contract escalators, that would not be ideal.


Continue Reading