Patriots assistant Brian Flores hired as Dolphins coach
DAVIE, Fla. — Hours after his team won the Super Bowl, New England Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores was hired Monday as head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
Flores helped the Patriots shut down the high-scoring Los Angeles Rams for a 13-3 victory in the title game Sunday night in Atlanta, and then flew to Miami to seal his deal with the Dolphins.
“It has been a whirlwind 24 hours,” Flores said with a smile at a news conference that drew two dozen cameras.
“Looking at this crowd here, you’d think we won the Super Bowl,” Miami owner Stephen Ross said. “I’ve never seen this many people in this room. … To me, you start an organization by signing a great leader. I believe we’ve found that leader.”
Flores was the first person the Dolphins interviewed after they fired coach Adam Gase on Dec. 31. They decided on Jan. 11 to offer the job to Flores, the Patriots’ defensive play-caller, but had to wait until New England’s season ended to complete an agreement.
“I wasn’t in a rush to become a head coach,” said Flores, 37. “I had a good job in New England. I’m thankful I’m part of this organization now. We’re going to do everything possible to build a winner here.”
While preparing for the Super Bowl, Flores also began to hire a Miami staff. The group is expected to include former Colts and Lions head coach Jim Caldwell as assistant head coach, Patriots receivers coach Chad O’Shea as offensive coordinator and Packers assistant Patrick Graham as defensive coordinator.
Flores, the son of Honduran immigrants, grew up in Brooklyn and has spent his entire coaching career with the Patriots. He joined them in 2004 and became their de facto defensive coordinator a year ago after Matt Patricia left to join the Lions as their head coach.
Flores is the ninth former assistant to Bill Belichick to become a head coach.
“Two things that stand out immediately when you meet Brian are his football intelligence and leadership skills,” Miami general manager Chris Grier said in a statement. “If you talk with anyone who has played for him or worked with him, you will hear about his ability to lead and get the most out of people. Brian sets a high standard for his players and coaches, and we are completely aligned with our vision on how to build a successful organization.”
Flores becomes the NFL’s fourth minority head coach for 2019, which is half the total of last season. Diversity advocates have questioned the effectiveness of the Rooney Rule requiring teams to interview at least one minority candidate for any head coach or general manager vacancy.
A former Boston College linebacker, Flores also coached offense and special teams with New England. He has a long relationship with Grier, who took charge of football operations in the recent organizational shake-up.
Both started as scouts for the Patriots, the Dolphins’ longtime nemeses in the AFC East. Flores will report to Grier under the team’s new, more streamlined leadership structure.
Flores becomes Miami’s 10th head coach since 2004, including three interim coaches. He is leaving a team that won its sixth Super Bowl since 2002 to join a franchise that has not won a playoff game since 2000 and plans to rebuild after another dismal season.
The Dolphins went 7-9 in 2018 to miss the playoffs for the 15th time in 17 years. They allowed 6,257 yards, the most in franchise history, and the offense was also among the league’s worst, finishing ranked 31st.
After Ross fired Gase, he ordered a roster overhaul and acknowledged it may take several seasons to build a winner. The revamp is likely to include the departure of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has been with Miami since 2012 but has never taken a postseason snap.