I won’t get into a lot of minutia and detail here, but I wanted to give some thoughts on how Brian Flores has done this year so far.
Let’s break it into his pros and cons.
Let’s start with the positives:
- He’s won a game. That says something in this league, where it is indeed possible to go 0-16,and we can commend Flores for getting that first win.
- The players seem to like him. I haven’t observed anyone giving up, not even in the blowouts. The guys are hitting hard and trying.
- Penalties are way down. Flores’s system is to make guys run sprints when the commit fouls in practice, and this discipline seems to carry over to the games.
- His coordinators are improving. I gave Flores a lot of criticism for hiring two of his New England buddies, neither of whom had ever called plays at any level. But now, the units are clicking more, especially the offense, which is showing some positive signs under Chad O’Shea’s play calling.
- Flores’s handling of all the injuries is a strong testament to what he must be doing in practice. It’s one thing for the Patriots to miss a lineman for one game, when 4 other experienced All-Pros can step up and cover for the new guy. But on a team like the Dolphins, filled with undrafted no-names, who is supposed to step up? Yet somehow, they did. Jamal Wiltz males a key interception instead of Reshad Jones or X Howard…who saw that coming?
And now, unfortunately, come the negatives:
- Most of these positives above have only come to light in the last 3 games, after showing absolutely nothing in September. A head coach cannot start learning the job in November, Flores needed to be far better prepared early on.
- Minkah Fitzpatrick. I’ve gone back and forth on this, but Minkah is playing at an All-Pro level right now, simply because his new coach let him play safety. The results don’t lie. I rarely take a disgruntled player’s side when it comes to these situations, but in this case, Minkah was 100% correct. By all accounts, he asked to remain at safety. Didn’t demand it or pout or call anyone names on social media. Flores didn’t make Jakeem Grant play left guard, so why did Flores insist on making Minkah play slot CB? And then weak side safety. And then wide CB. And then hybrid LB. Minkah knows his strengths. Minkah has actually played football. When he says he’ll excel at safety, why not believe him? The Steelers certainly did. And now, because of this, we’re looking at maybe getting a #17-20 overall pick (who may be good in the future, or may be Dion Jordan) in exchange for a sure-thing, lights-out safety for the next decade.
- The strategy. Flores’s use of timeouts and challenges shows that he’s not ready to lead. He might get there, some day, but right now, he cannot process everything fast enough. His timeout last Sunday gave the Jets 5 points and momentum. He didn’t challenge plays when replay clearly showed the Dolphins got screwed. Making decisions like he were a teenager playing Madden 2019 (fake punts, field goals, and sneak onside kicks all in the same game)? During a game, decisions must be made on every single play, and they must be made quickly. Flores has not shown me that he gets that part of it.
Examples: We already covered his timeout vs. the Jets. But the week before at Pittsburgh, the Steelers faced a third and 20. Clock ticking. More than likely, Pitt was going to run a draw play and end the half. But Flores called a boneheaded timeout. Pitt came back saw that blitz coming a mile away. Touchdown Steelers. Because of Flores’s useless timeout.
I’m curious what you guys think as well: Are there strengths and weaknesses in Flores that I’m missing? Have I been unfair?