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Miami Dolphins

“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.

Miami Dolphins

Dolphins coach Flores already dealing with lots of 2020 changes

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Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

For almost every NFL team not named the 49ers and the Chiefs, the draft evaluation process is now well underway, and most all teams are represented now in Mobile, Alabama for this weekend’s Senior Bowl. That includes, the Dolphins head coach Brian Flores and his staff (some of them brand new), who are taking it all in.

And on Monday night, Flores met with the Dolphins assembled media and beat writers about the changes that have already taken place within his coaching staff and how it will shape this offseason.

First, Flores took the drastic action of firing first-year offensive coordinator, Chad O’Shea, whom he had brought with him from the Patriots this past season. Part of that decision was based on Miami’s poor play offensively, but a bigger part is the person that Flores could bring in to run his offense.

That’s former Cowboys and bills head coach and longtime NFL offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey.

As we wrote when these moves were made earlier this month, Gailey has a long-standing relationship with veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Gailey was his head coach in Buffalo and also his offensive coordinator with the Jets, photo above,. It also further signals the Fitzpatrick apparently will be heavily involved in the 2020 offensive plans.

Speaking to the media and with the quotes being relayed via Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post, Flores emphasized that Gailey’s in-game adjustments and his ability to teach is what appealed to hiring him,

“He does a really good job of adjustments in-game,” Flores said. “If you’re playing cover one, he’s got cover-one beaters, if you’re playing zone, he’s got zone-beaters. If you’re diamond front he’s got his diamond runs. He’s a good coach that way. I think he’s seen a lot of football.”

“I know he’s a great teacher,” Flores said. “Just in my conversations with several players and coaches that have spent time with him, and that’s obviously very important. The first thing I should have said is that.”

Flores also is dealing with having lost defensive coordinator, Patrick Graham, whom he allowed to take the same job with the New York Giants. Instead of going outside for his replacement hire, Flores instead promoted from in-house with defensive backs coach Josh Boyer getting the promotion and much more responsibility.

As for Boyer, Flores said Monday night from Mobile,

 “He and I see things through the same lenses,” Flores said. “A lot of ways. He coached corners and I coached safeties and we spent a lot of time together. Defensive philosophies and fundamentals and techniques, the things we teach. We’re very much on the same page.”

Defense is obviously Flores’ specialty and Boyer is following his same path from when they were with the Pats. This, as Flores ascended from DB coach to defensive coordinator two seasons ago before getting the Dolphins job.

Miami will obviously have to remake their roster with numerous premium draft picks they acquired for this year and next year, plus, significant money under the salary cap for free agents.

And, all of that evaluation, including with Senior prospects practicing and playing this weekend, is now underway.

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Miami Dolphins

’85 Dolphins were part of dubious AFC playoff history

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans are looking to make NFL playoff history and join four other teams as the only ones to ever win three straight road games and make a Super Bowl. That’s when they take on the Chiefs Sunday afternoon in Kansas City.

And, longtime Dolphins fans will remember that they were on the wrong end of one of those teams who pulled it off for the first time in NFL playoff history 34 years ago.

That’s when a Raymond Berry coached New England Patriots team behind Tony Eason at quarterback and an opportunistic defense stunned the seemingly invincible passing attack of second-year quarterback Dan Marino and Don Shula’s Dolphins in a shocking 31 – 14 upset at the Orange Bowl.

To set the scene, New England had already upset the New York Jets at the Meadowlands in the AFC Wildcard game and then, gone out to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and defeated the Raiders, who were the number one in AFC seed, 27 – 20.

The Dolphins, who were the AFC Champs the previous year behind Marino’s record-setting passing season of 1984, had struggled just to make the Championship Game a year later.

That’s because the Cleveland Browns actually led Miami the previous week 21 – 3 in the third quarter before Marino and the offense kicked it into gear for 21 unanswered points and a comeback 24 – 21 win.

However, on this day, they made simply too many mistakes and New England made them pay, including grinding the clock with over 40 minutes of possession to shorten the game.

Patriots ran for over 250 yards on the withering Dolphins defense and Miami had six turnovers in all including two critical Marino interceptions in the defeat.

New England surprisingly led 17 – 7 at the half, when Miami’s rookie kick returner and former Gator Lorenzo Hampton fumbled, while being tackled. A few plays later New England scored on a 4th and goal touchdown pass from Eason to Robert Weathers with a stunned Orange Bowl looking at a scoreboard that read 24 – 7, Pats.

Marino led the Dolphins down the field and looked like he was going to get them quickly in the end zone and right back in the game. However, he threw a critical bad pass that was picked off by Fred Marion at the New England goal line to keep the Dolphins off the board.

New England worked another four minutes off the clock before missing a few goal, but most of the damage had been done with most of the third period was erased with the Dolphins down by 17.

The Patriots Mosi Tatupu iced the game with a 1 yard  touchdown midway through the final period and New England was on its way to a Super Bowl matchup with the Chicago Bears.

As you probably know by now, the ’85 Bears with their devastating “46 Defense,” Hall of Famer Walter Payton and brash quarterback Jim McMahon destroyed New England in the Super Bowl two weeks later.

Still, 1985 version the Patriots will always be remembered as a team that was able to pull off three straight wins away from home, including the shocker that ended Miami’s bid to capture the World Championship.

If you are wondering, the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, and Green Bay Packers have also all since done this “road trifecta” in the NFL Playoffs. However, in all three of their cases, they finished what the Patriots could not, by also winning the Super Bowl.

The most recent was the Packers and their 2011 postseason run that saw them defeat the Steelers to win the title.

So, on Sunday, it’s former Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Derrick Henry and the Tennessee defense’s turn to try to match what four others have done before them.

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