New Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, like a habitually natured football coach, is set into his “one-day-at-a-time” football ways.
Just two months into the job, Flores has not been too keen on setting expectations or win totals he hopes to meet as a rookie NFL coach.
He has not been triggered by early Super Bowl odds (Dolphins have the second-worst behind the Washington Redskins) or record predictions for the season (NFL Network believes they’ll be 4-12) – whether or not those figures have come across his attention.
After all, Flores is still learning the ropes, trying to gain his footing in his new position.
But there is an end game, of sorts, Flores believes the Dolphins can aspire to achieve.
“We’re not going to conquer the world over these next three days,” Flores said as the Dolphins began to set the foundation of his tenure during Miami’s voluntary offseason workouts this week.
Flores has conquered the NFL world before as Bill Belichick’s assistant, winning four Super Bowls, including last season’s crown, while coaching in seven championship games over the course of 15 seasons with the New England Patriots.
But it is clear Flores enters a unique situation as the new Dolphins coach, following former coach Adam Gase, now with the AFC East-rival New York Jets.
The Dolphins are undergoing a significant rebuild, under Flores and general manager Chris Grier, with their current makeup far from conquering their own division.
On top of his new job, Flores has also experienced one of the biggest adversities in his personal life after his mother, Maria, died following her bout with breast cancer on March 2 at her home in North Attleboro, Mass. Her funeral was held on March 9.
“That was obviously hard,” Flores said. “She’s someone I think about on a daily basis. I wish she was here to kinda enjoy this with us, but she’s with us all the time. I would say she wouldn’t want me to dwell or be upset. She’d want me to have peace.
“I’m sad. I’m unhappy. I miss her. But I have peace knowing that I did everything I could to make her proud as well as my brothers. They did the same thing, and we all have piece with that.”
While Flores’ personal hardship recurs in his thoughts constantly, his task ahead as Dolphins coach has been a welcomed distraction.
Voluntary workouts this week have set the tone with his team.
“We’re going to run. We’re going to be the most in-shape team, I can tell you that,” third-year defensive tackle Davon Godchaux said. “That’s probably the only thing I can tell you. The bottom line is we’re going to be the most in-shape team.”
Added third-year linebacker Raekwon McMillan: “He’s a straightforward guy. He’s all about business and trying to bring a winning tradition here to the Dolphins and trying to get this thing rolling.”
Flores has also whipped the local media into shape, showing up 10 minutes before his two scheduled press conferences this week, while some media members showed up right on time.
“Early is on time, on time is late, and late is forgotten,” Flores said is a personal mantra.
The Dolphins will take their next step toward their rebuild with the 2019 NFL draft this week, where they own the No. 13 overall pick, and are in dire need for a starting-caliber offensive lineman or defensive lineman.
The Dolphins roster has some familiar faces returning to the fold, such as receiver and philanthropist Kenny Stills, Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard, Pro Bowl-caliber lineman Laremy Tunsil, play-making running back Kenyan Drake, Ring of Honor-caliber safety Reshad Jones, and quirky Cuban linebacker Kiko Alonso.
But the bottom half of the roster Flores and Grier have constructed during the offseason seems mostly barren.
The Dolphins have 67 players in tow (51 returning from last season, nine free agents including new quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and seven players from the defunct Alliance of American Football League looking to make an NFL impact). They could add seven more from the draft, which will be held April 25-27, and then would need to add 16 more players for a full 90-man roster for training camp.
For Flores, the formation of his team is representative of the maturing process he is experiencing as a first-time NFL head coach this season.
“It’s been a lot of fun. I’m living the dream,” Flores said. “It’s a lot going on. You’re dealing with players, coaches. Chris and I are working and we’re talking on a daily basis. Over the last two months, we’ve had free agency, and combine, and 30 visits. Those have all been parts of this process that I haven’t dealt with before, but going through it, it’s been good. It’s been a learning process. Like the players, I try to learn and improve every day.”