By Lisa Johnson // @LJ1303
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores addressed the South Florida media Thursday, March 11th to finally discuss the up-and-coming 2021 NFL season.
The season is set to begin on March 17th, highlighted by the start of free agency.
Head Coach Brian Flores
(Opening statement) – “It’s good to see everyone. I hope you and your families are doing well, safe, healthy. Just kind of want to start with a little kind of, let’s call it ‘state of the union’ since we didn’t speak at the Combine this year. A couple quick updates the last couple months – the last time we talked, I want to say at the Senior Bowl and really at the end of the season, I talked about us kind of doing a full evaluation of our team and really, the entire operation – the 2020 season.
“We did a deep dive on a self-scout from that perspective really across the board – offense, defense, special teams, our operation, scouting. Any and everything that we felt like we could improve on, we kind of talked about. Our goal is to improve at every position – coaches, players, strength and conditioning, nutrition, training. So that’s kind of been what we’ve done the last couple months. (General Manager) Chris (Grier) and our scouting staff – they’ve been great. They’ve been phenomenal. We just actually just got done with our draft meetings last week. With no Combine and quite a few limitations this year due to COVID-19 and the pandemic, really they’ve kind of handled that without any complaint. No issues.
“They did a really nice job as far as getting background and we had some really good dialogue and a lot of great meetings over the last couple weeks. And that is specific to the draft, but also free agency. Our pro (personnel) department also did a nice job there, so it’s been a busy time, I would say, and we’re going to try to always do everything – any and everything possible to improve our team and have success in the fall.
“I wanted to give you guys a couple updates just related to our coaching staff. First, we’re going to name Danny Crossman the assistant head coach and special teams (coordinator). Danny – as you guys know – has been instrumental in the development of this team, our coaching staff and I’m just grateful to have someone of his skillset to bounce ideas off of. He’s just been an invaluable asset.
“We named George (Godsey) and Eric (Studesville) co-coordinators on offense. They’ve both done an outstanding job at their respective positions. Have a lot of respect for both guys – very knowledgeable, very good teachers and I think they both bring a different – they both have different perspectives and we’ve had a lot of great dialogue, really I would say, these last couple months with those two as well as our entire offensive staff.
“Other offensive coaching staff changes – and you guys will get a press release on this later on today. Mike Judge is going to go from quality control to assistant tight ends and Shawn Flaherty who was also a quality control coach will go to assistant o-line. Defensively, a couple changes there. Charles Burks – he’ll be the cornerbacks coach. Obviously, he worked with the corners for the last couple years. He’s done a nice job, so he’s officially the cornerbacks coach. Austin Clark is going to coach defensive line and Robbie Leonard is going to move to outside linebackers.
“Lastly, I know there’s probably going to be some free agency and trade questions today. I’m happy to take those, but I think you’ve got to understand that per league rules, I can only comment on players who are currently on our team until the new league year begins. With that in mind, fire away.”
And fire away they did. It didn’t take long to address the elephant in the room. The question all of South Florida was waiting for.
You’ve talked to us a couple months ago when the season ended about the quarterback situation and QB Tua Tagovailoa. There has been a lot of speculation since then about whether it be QB Deshaun Watson, whether it be the draft and all things regarding that. Has the time since the season strengthened, changed or impacted your view at all about Tua being your guy heading into this season? –
“I’m excited about Tua and this upcoming season. I think that when you think about his situation last year coming off the hip (injury), we kind of threw him in the fire there in Week 7 or Week 8 – I’m not sure exactly what week it was. He started nine games. I thought he made a lot of improvement throughout the course of the season. He had some ups, had some downs, like all of the rookies and like any rookie. I’m really excited about this – that Year 1 to Year 2 jump and being more comfortable, even down here in South Florida. He’s got a place.
“That rookie year, you’ve got a lot going on. You’ve got to get a house, you’ve got to get a car, you’ve got to move to a whole new city. There are so many things that are going on. I thought he handled it well last year, but I’m really excited about this upcoming year. Especially, again he had no OTAs, a different training camp. You guys know me – I’m all about the development of players and helping them develop and helping them get better. I think this time, or an offseason, is really going to be helpful to him and really all of the rookies. I’m really excited about working with him this offseason.”
While the speculation and debates rage on between fans in regards to Tua vs Watson. One thing was made crystal clear. Coach Flores seems focused with the way he sees this team coming together. While free agency and the NFL draft are weeks away, Coach Flores was sure to keep everything close to the vest. He only really said that this year’s free agency period is a very unique year.
The Dolphins hold the 3rd overall pick this year and Coach Flores recognized that the Dolphins have many ways they could go. Every year, I truly think it will be all about who is there for the value of the pick. Or which team might just want that spot for a player they must have. Like always. I will expect 100 different case scenarios until draft day.
Talk Dolphins with Lisa on Twitter // @LJ1303