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“Miami Miracle” still topic for Patriots- Brian Flores at Super Bowl

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

December 9th of 2018 still goes down, as the most incredible finish for a Miami Dolphins game, ever. And, as the Patriots get ready to play in Super Bowl 53, it’s still a topic for their current defensive play caller, who’s about to become Miami’s head coach after the game is played.

Brian Flores met with the media during the NFL’s “Opening Night” media festivities in downtown Atlanta, and talked on numerous subjects. However, when the Q&A turned to the Dolphins crazy double-lateral play with no time left that resulted in a Kenyan Drake TD to beat New England 34 – 33, our F.F.I. interest piqued,  even more.

Miami Herald beat writer Armando Salguero was there with Flores, as he answered questions, including about that fateful final play against his Pats defense:

It was interesting to hear another reporter ask Flores to confirm, whether he had apologized to the team for his defensive scheme on the final play that gave up the “goofy” TD.

“I would say that game…It was a tough one for us. I think we grew a lot from that game. I think we learned a lot from that game. I think it made us a better ball club.” Flores continued, “But, again, that’s in the past….. Plus, I’d say my conversations with my players are private. I try to keep it that way. That’s how you build trust. But, at the same time, we kinda put that one behind us, and we’re really locked in on the Rams.”

Two important points on the “Miami Miracle” from New England’s standpoint:

One, the only way that defensive formation, that included tight end Rob Gronkowski standing back around the goal line as a defender was allowed, was because Bill Belichick signed off on it and they had practiced it. Guaranteed.

And point two: the Patriots clearly had a couple of opportunities long before Drake got near the goal-line to make plays on either Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker or Drake, as the ball was being a lateraled near midfield, etc.

In any event, it’s an embarrassing play for the Patriots players and for the coaching staff, as they gave away a game that could have ultimately costed them a bye in the opening round and potentially more.

New England went on to lose the following week to the Steelers, and it looked like that even if they won the division that they would be playing on the road early in the playoffs. And the crazy loss to the Dolphins, coupled with the Steelers loss, basically kept New England from being able to host the AFC Championship Game.

They overcame that issue with a tremendous 4th quarter and overtime performance to beat Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium in the title game and make the Super Bowl.

Still it’s a juicy topic for fans of the Dolphins, as Flores is about to become their coach after this game. And, by the way, he predictably continued to skirt around questions about that dynamic on Monday night.

He repeated that he is focused only on helping New England win another championship, which would be their third during his tenure as a defensive assistant, if it happens.

And one more point that is mostly serious but somewhat humorous: it’s very likely that if the game comes down to a final play with the Rams on offense and desperately needing a TD, you’ll see completely different defensive setup and more than likely without Gronkowski on the field trying to tackle people.

That’s the Patriots for you, they learn from things like that fateful day last month at Hard Rock Stadium.

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Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa present to start NFL combine

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John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Scouting Combine is getting underway in Indianapolis this week and on Monday morning, one of the prized quarterbacks that will be available early in the first round of the draft was there for official measurements and to meet with teams.

Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, whose season ended with a fractured hip last November, is on the road to recovery and he was officially measured and also, met with numerous teams that are looking at the possibility of drafting him:

In addition to not only the injured hip, but also a history of high ankle sprain problems, Tagovailoa has got to answer critics on his size. At just 6 – 0 feet there will be concerns about his ability to clearly see downfield through the massive bodies on NFL Sundays.

However, this can be combated by moving him around out of the pocket and that’s something that Alabama was successful at doing over his three years as well.

As we wrote recently, Tagovailoa was injured in Alabama’s 10th game of the season suffering a fractured hip on a sack late in the first half at Mississippi State. He missed the Tide’s final two regular-season games and then, their Citrus Bowl win January 1st, over Michigan

He came to Alabama from Hawaii and the same high school as Marcus Mariota, having thrown for over 8,000 yards which at that time was a Hawaii High School record. And, he had a career of 84 passing and 27 rushing touchdowns in three seasons.

Tua burst onto the scene nationally, when he relieved Jalen Hurts in the second half and overtime of Alabama’s thrilling title game win over Georgia in the 2018 College Football Playoff Championship Game. Tagovailoa threw the game-winning touchdown pass on the first overtime possession, as Alabama celebrated their fifth National Title in nine seasons under Saban.

In his second season at the helm in the 2018 regular season, Tagovailoa was named second-team AP All-American and was a Heisman Trophy finalist, as the Tide reached the National Title game, again, before being beaten soundly by Clemson 12 months ago.

As this junior season unfolded, Tagovailoa was named almost became synonymous with the Dolphins, who started the season horribly at 0 – 7 and the moniker “Tank for Tua” began to gain momentum in South Florida.

Tagovailoa is obviously on the Dolphins list to look at strongly to select in the top five in the draft and currently, Miami is slated to pick fifth.

It is expected that Tagovailoa will work out for teams probably later in March or maybe even, early April at the Tide’s facility in Tuscaloosa, prior to the NFL draft coming to Las Vegas.

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Colorado announced hire of Dolphins assistant Dorrel Sunday

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Former UCLA coach and recently promoted Dolphins assistant Karl Dorrell is headed back to college, as the new head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes.

The school confirmed Dorrell’s hire on Sunday evening with a five-year contract to take over their Big 12 program:

The Buffaloes have been seeking a head coach since there coach Mel Tucker abruptly left to take the Michigan State job earlier this month.

Dorrell came to the dolphins with Brian Flores this past season, as wide receiver coach and earlier last week was promoted to assistant head coach for the upcoming season. Miami’s top receiver, DeVante Parker, blossomed under Dorrell’s tutelage as the year went on. He finished the season with 72 catches for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns becoming the favorite target of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Dorrel is the latest Dolphins assistant on the move. Flores fired the offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea he brought with him from New England. And, his defensive coordinator Patrick Graham left to take the same job with the Giants.

Dorrell had also been the Dolphins receivers coach, previously from 2008 – 10 and then, their quarterbacks coach in 2011 under the late Tony Sparano.

Colorado’s athletic director Rick George said in a statement Sunday night,

“I am excited that Karl Dorrell has agreed to become our head football coach,” George said. “Karl has had great success as a college coach, both as a head coach and an assistant, and he knows the Pac-12 Conference and West Coast well. It was important that our next coach have CU ties, and Karl has those ties having worked at CU twice previously. Karl shares my passion for Colorado and our vision for winning championships. He will be a tremendous mentor and role model for our student-athletes, and he will provide great leadership for our program going forward.” 

The CU Board of Regents still have to approve Dorrell’s contract, which will be $18 million for five seasons.

Dorrell had previously been on Colorado staffs two other times in his career, including most recently as offensive coordinator under Rick Neuheisel from 1995- 98.

Dorrell was named head coach of his alma mater UCLA in 2003, where he lasted five seasons and went to a bowl game every year finishing with a career 35 – 27 record before being fired after the 2007 season.

Dorrell had previously been receivers coach for the New York Jets 2015 – 18 under Todd Bowles (above) and two of his receivers had made the Pro Bowl during his time there.

Colorado picked Dorrell from an interview process that also included former Buffaloes player and Kansas City Super Bowl offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, who interviewed and was under strong consideration.

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