When the Miami Dolphins hired linebackers coach Brian Flores from the New England Patriots in the off-season, hatred was sent his way from many fans, both of the NFL and of the Dolphins. After three unsuccessful years of Adam Gase, general manager Chris Grier decided to make an impactful change. On February 14th, 2019, Brian Flores was named the thirteenth head coach in Dolphins history. Flores now had to start his coaching job with one of the worst rosters in the league.
Before the season started, a blockbuster trade between the Houston Texans and the Dolphins occurred: sending offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills to Houston in exchange for Johnson Bademosi, tackle Julie’n Davenport, and a fourth and fifth round draft choice. Names like Ryan Tannehill, Cameron Wake, Kiko Alonso, and John Denney were also traded for future draft picks in the off-season. This was the start of a new era in Miami as Chris Grier needed to get younger in the upcoming years by acquiring multiple draft picks. A week three trade did just that, by trading star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for a first, fifth, and sixth round draft pick. After week three, these trades had many Miami fans thinking that tanking season started early. After a 0-7 start to the 2019 NFL season, Brian Flores was already on the hot seat as his team was dialed in for the number one draft pick in the 2020 draft. After being asked about tanking, Flores shot that idea down in a heartbeat.
“Again, this game means a lot to me. I wouldn’t disrespect the game with that. Again, no we’re not (tanking). We’re going to try to win every game. I think that’s disrespectful to even say that. These guys have worked extremely hard. They’ve done that all summer, they do it all spring, and they’ll continue to do so. “- Brian Flores
On November 3rd, the Miami Dolphins won their first game of the season which left many fans and management rejoicing. Throughout the last nine weeks in the season, the Dolphins finished with a record of 5-4 in that span. A glimpse of hope was shot through Miami as Brian Flores brought a much needed spark and energy throughout the fanbase and locker room. They finished off the 2019 season with a record of 5-11 which was good enough for last place in the tough AFC East. Although the record looks miserable, it was better than it seemed. They lost three games on the season by a combined total of twelve points which proved how hard they fought. Even though Grier traded for former first round quarterback Josh Rosen, the Dolphins stuck with fourteen-year veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who provided leadership and a new fight to the team.
With little talent on that roster, Flores proved to get the most out of players. Wide receiver DeVante Parker proved to be an elite and underrated receiver gathering 72 catches for 1,202 yards and nine trips to the end-zone. A pro-bowl snub, Parker signed a major extension mid-season to keep him in Miami for the next four years. Tight end Mike Gesicki proved to be a solid red-zone target recording five touchdowns. Preston Williams proved to be an undrafted gem and a physical threat standing at 6’4. The offense is going to be very good in a few years with names like Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns on the outside.
There are not many bright spots on defense as they finished with the worst defense in the league. But, first round draft pick Christian Wilkins poses a dominant force on the defensive line as well as newly acquired Taco Charlton, who has played well since coming over from Dallas. The defense needs a lot of work over the off-season but have a solid secondary with Xavien Howard, Reshad Jones, Eric Rowe, and undrafted rookie Nik Needham who is making Dolphins fans happy. Jerome Baker wears the green dot on defense and played extremely well in his role as leader of the defense. Baker is the future on defense for a Miami team that desperately needs hope at linebacker.
“This is a talented guy. He can win a one-on-one pass rush. At the linebacker position, we’re going to ask him to do a few things. We’re going to ask him to rush. We’re going to ask him to cover. We’re going to ask him to tackle, play in the run game.”- Brian Flores
Coming up in April’s draft, Miami will be looking to acquire pieces for the future. They own fourteen total picks in the NFL draft as three of them are in the first round. Miami will likely attack their two most important positions of need. The league would benefit greatly from the entertaining backfield duo of Tua Tagovailoa and J.K Dobbins. They have an array of quarterbacks and running backs to choose from but this duo will benefit them the most. It will be really hard for Miami to mess up their draft and this will set Brian Flores and Chris Grier up for the future.