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Dolphins start coach Brian Flores era Thursday

Florida Football Insiders

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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It is the preseason, but it is the debut for the Dolphins newest head coach, Brian Flores, as Miami gets set to host the Atlanta Falcons at Hard Rock stadium Thursday night.

Flores obviously brings credibility having been park of three recent Super Bowl wins by the New England Patriots, including as the defensive play caller in their latest Title Game win over the Rams in February.

It goes without saying that most observers and pundits believe this will be a long season in Miami that may result in his only two or three wins.

This is especially because of the unsettled quarterback situation, where 15 year veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick is currently the starter as preseason begins. However, the Dolphins are hoping that former number one pick of the Arizona Cardinals, Josh Rosen, whom they got in a trade in April, will eventually overtake him for the starting role.

Miami also has an unsettled running back situation between veteran Kenyan Drake and second-year back Kalen Ballage among a group of other young players that will vie for carries, etc.

If the Dolphins do have a strength it’ss probably at wide receiver where veteran speedster Kenny Stills will be helped my former first-round pick DeVante Parker. Later in August, speedy Albert Wilson, who comes off injured reserve with hip surgery, is expected to slowly work his way back. And, tight ends Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe, who enter their second seasons, should be able to contribute more in 2019.

Probably the biggest concern is the defense, where the Fins did draft Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins in the first round. They do have a couple of other potential impact players in linebacker Raekwon McMillan, plus defensive backs Minkah Fitzpatrick and Xavien Howard. However the lack of quality starters and depth will be more apparent on the side of the ball, even though it’s Flores’ specialty.

When you take into account the Flores has never been a head coach at any level. And further, most of Bill Belichick’s former assistants have struggled, especially early with their new teams, there obviously will be a learning curve.

The questions are there and starting with seeing the Falcons starters in the first quarter Thursday, we’ll see some answers, too.

Miami Dolphins

Pass interference overrule in Jets win over Dolphins shows flaws

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Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
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The inconsistent application and rulings of the new NFL pass interference replay policy was, again, on full display Sunday afternoon at The Meadowlands. And when the league’s officiating command center gave the Jets a first down on a pass interference call that wasn’t even made by their game officials, it helped New York kick the winning field goal to beat the Dolphins 22 – 21.

And, understandably, Dolphins coach Brian Flores was none too happy with the whole thing.

Although Flores refused to elaborate about why he went running after and arguing with the officials before his post-game handshake with Jets coach (and former Dolphins boss) Adam Gase, it was clear he was none too pleased with the ending to the game.

To reset the scene, the Jets were driving trying to retake the lead trailing 21 – 19. This was after Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders had made his seventh field goal  from 37 yrards for Miami to hold a two-point advantage.

Then on a 3rd and 18 play, Sam Darnold’s incompletion to Vyncint Smith may or may not have been enough contact to throw a flag. The on-field officials let it go.

But, that’s when the NFL supervisor of officials Al Riveron, his assistants and the command center initiated a replay review, as it was under two minutes remaining in the game.

Eventually Riveron overruled the on-field refs, and he  gave the Jets the pass interference call, a first down at the Miami 38, and it eventually led to Sam Ficken making the game winning field goal from 44 yards out with no time left.

Now, it was not the first time, even recently, that the NFL has done this in the final two minutes with the game on the line. In the Buccaneers win over the Arizona Cardinals last month, Riveron and the command center overruled the on-field officials having not thrown a flag. That’s when Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans was clearly interfere with in the end zone, as Tampa Bay was looking for the go-ahead touchdown.

The Buccaneers got a first and goal at the one, scored  and won the game 30 – 27.

Further adding to the confusion and controversy is that the NFL has been so reluctant to overturn flags for pass interference, one way or the other, throughout this first year of using instant replay for pass interference.

However the command center in New York has now demonstrated, not just with the Evans situation but even another case in the Dolphins-Browns game a couple of weeks ago, that they will use replay to overrule their on-field officials and make a penalty call in the final two minutes of a half or game.

Our Jason Cole wrote that this aspect of the review mechanism is troubling and potentially only going to get worse. This is because the league is interjecting themselves rather than backing their guys on the field who didn’t throw a flag unless it is blatantly obvious.

Back to Sunday, Miami had numerous chances, especially early, to get touchdowns while moving inside the Jets 10 yard line. However, three times, Sanders kicked a field goal of 28 yards or less giving Miami only nine points at the half.

The Dolphins had plenty of struggles in losing to Gase/their AFC East rival, and the replay decisions out New York aren’t going to make anyone feel any better about it.

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Miami Dolphins

“Mountaineer Shot” earns Dolphins K Sanders AFC honors

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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One of the great trick plays, not just of this NFL season but in recent pro football memory, has earned the Dolphins kicker who caught a touchdown pass Sunday AFC weekly honors.

The league announced Wednesday that kicker Jason Sanders, who became the first place-kicker to catch a touchdown pass in 42 years, is the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week:

Sanders also made his only field-goal attempt, as well as two extra points, earned the weekly honor for Miami’s 37 – 31 upset of the Eagles.

However, it is the play that is known as “Mountaineer Shot” that Sanders will forever be remembered for not just in Dolphin history, but NFL.

We wrote about the play on Monday, as head coach Brian Flores and special teams coordinator Danny Crossman implemented the direct snap to punter Matt Haack, while players were spread wide on either side of the formation.

Haack then, took the snap, rolled left and when the Eagles rushed at him, he flipped the ball to Sanders for the touchdown. The play is named for the center, Kilgore, because he played at Appalachian State, whose nickname is the Mountaineers. And, it’s something that Dolphins had been practicing regularly on and off for the past two months.

Furher, as for the historical aspects of the play, Sanders became the first kicker to catch a touchdown pass in an NFL game since Baltimore’s Jim Turner did it in a game in 1977.

It is also the first time since the AFL – NFL merger in 1970 that a punter has completed a touchdown pass to a kicker and the play will live on for years and years to come.

It is the second time that Sanders has won the AFC special teams player of the week award this season. He also got the honor for his two clultch 48 yard field goals in the fourth quarter of the Dolphins 16-12 upset of the Indianapolis Colts in November.

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