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Dolphins on right path under head coach Brian Flores

With makeshift roster, Flores had Miami playing winning football during final 2 months of season

Head coach Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins exits the field after a win over the New England Patriots on December 29, 2019.
Head coach Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins exits the field after a win over the New England Patriots on December 29, 2019. (Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

MIAMI – The bizarre 2019 season for the Miami Dolphins is complete.

After months of tank talk from the media and fans, and discussions on whether this could be one of the worst teams in NFL history, Miami ended up with a 5-11 record. How? How in the world did this team go from an 0-7 start to finishing the final 9 games at 5-4?

Brian Flores would be the right place to start.

I’ve honestly seen too many weird things happen in sports to definitively say that Flores is the long term answer for the Dolphins, but it’s hard to argue that he’s not.

What Flores did this season with this roster was extraordinary. He took the job saying he wanted to build a tough and disciplined team, no matter who was on the roster, and he did just that. The Dolphins traded veteran after veteran, from Laremy Tunsil to Minkah Fitzpatrick to Kenyan Drake, and more.

Miami made so many changes that some game days I had no idea certain players were even on the roster until I saw them in the game, and many of those players I had never even heard of.

Practice squad players were being called up, and some weeks even players signed off the street would come in and see significant action right away.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it in the NFL from week to week. Yet, as the season went on and the names kept changing, the Dolphins played winning football for the final two months. Think about how crazy that sounds.

Flores and his staff deserve so much credit. That doesn’t even take into consideration the development of players like DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki. Both took huge steps under this new coaching staff. A number of other young players on both sides of the ball showed improvement. That’s the sign of good coaching and leadership.

The Dolphins appear to have that coach and leader in Flores.

Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Miami Dolphins reacts with head coach Brian Flores after throwing the game winning touchdown pass against the New England Patriots on December 29, 2019.
Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Miami Dolphins reacts with head coach Brian Flores after throwing the game winning touchdown pass against the New England Patriots on December 29, 2019. (Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

Now let’s talk tanking. Look, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross can call it whatever he wants, but this team shed players and salary with the idea to revamp for the offseason and future. He and everyone in the front office knew that likely meant a lot of losses.

And let’s not kid ourselves, despite all the well-deserved praise for Flores, this team lost a lot. This was still a bad football team, and that 5-11 record was bad enough to get a top five draft pick. Let’s not act like some tanking plan was ruined because they won a few more games than expected.

Miami is still in prime position to get a young quarterback in the draft to build around for the future.

If Tua Tagovailoa (or some other QB not named Joe Burrow) was the focus all along, then the plan is still there for the taking. Plus, the Dolphins have two other first round picks and multiple early picks to help build around that QB.

The bottom line is this: don’t let someone try to fool you into thinking that the Dolphins surprising success to close the season was some sort of negative thing toward the future.

It wasn’t.

Having a head coach and staff who showed they can get the most from minimal talent, while still having a top five pick and a ton of cap space is about as good a spot as any rebuilding team can ask for.

The Dolphins appear to hit a home run with Flores and are now in a great spot to get competitive quickly. All in all, I’d say that’s a great season for a team that won just five games and a fan base deserving of a winner.

I think that’s coming sooner than later.


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