Former Miami Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores interviewed for the Texans head coaching position on Friday. Drew Dougherty of Texans TV spoke with Dolphins beat writer Daniel Oyefusi of the Miami Herald about Flores.
DD: Daniel Oyefusi is a beat writer for the Miami Herald, and covers the Dolphins. Thank you for joining us. You've been around Brian Flores, and we hear the 'Leader of Men' tag that's applied to a lot of NFL head coaches. How much of that did you see in your time covering Flores and the Dolphins?
Oyefusi: I think we saw it a lot, especially in this third season, his final season as Dolphins head coach. We all saw the 1-7 start the Dolphins had. It was definitely underwhelming and an underperformance, compared to the expectations coming into the season. But one thing I will give Brian Flores credit for is he really did keep that team together. At 1-7, everyone counted them out. Nobody thought that they would be playing for any games that mattered in Week 17. Before you know it, they're on a seven-game win streak and they're in a situation where they just need to win their final two games of the season to get into the playoffs. Now, obviously, they weren't able to do that, getting knocked out in Week 17. But again, when you speak to a lot of the players, they say that he still had a pulse on that locker room. He still was able to galvanize the locker room and in a sense, they kind of rallied around him and were able to kind of beat the odds in a sense, coming back from that 1-7 start to win seven straight games.
DD: It is pretty remarkable because the Texans were 1-7 when they faced the 1-7 Dolphins, and Miami took off from there. How remarkable is it just to win eight straight games in the NFL?
Oyefusi: It's very remarkable. This is the first time in NFL history that a team has had a seven-game losing streak and a seven-game winning streak in the same season in NFL history. That's because usually teams that lose seven straight games just aren't really good teams. But as we saw, the Dolphins were a pretty solid team and able it to kind of turn that around. I think that a lot of it really started on the defense, which was kind of his calling card coming into Miami. We know of his extended time coaching linebackers and various positions in New England, and that was the one thing you could kind of count on with Flores: they would have the defense together. Now, obviously, the first half of the season didn't really align with that. But again, when you saw that seven-game win streak and the second half of the season, it really was powered by the defense and some of the changes that he was able to make with that personnel.
DD: Overall, what are some of Flores' most impressive qualities?
Oyefusi: I think it starts with his expertise on the defensive side of the ball. If you couldn't count on anything with Dolphins, you could count on them being ready to play defensively. Really just the messaging. He's not a guy who will give you the greatest quote in a press conference, but he is who he is and he sticks to that. A lot of times we kind of made a joke about it with the media that there was this one-day-at-a-time philosophy with Flores. But he was really true to himself, and it kind of trickled down to the players. You would hear them always say, 'We're taking it one day at a time, one game at a time, one week at a time.' So I will say that he is who he is and he doesn't try to be anybody else that he's not.
DD: What are some of the most memorable interactions you had with him or you saw him have with players?
Oyefusi: That's a good question. There's this one video that came out early in the season. I think it was before the start of the regular season, and he kind of got the group together. Training camp was dwindling down and it was this heartfelt message. He said, 'Hey, I want to I want to let you guys know: I'm your coach and I'm going to coach the heck out of you.' It was a little little more colorful than that. He is who he is, and he pushes his players to be the best that they can be. Even in the days following his dismissal from Miami when talking to players, linebacker Jerome Baker said, 'Hey, he's hard on us, but he just wants the best out of us.' (Offensive lineman) Jesse Davis said 'Hey, he might be hard on you, but that's what a coach does. You want a coach that pushes you and forces you to be your best on days where you might not want to hear it.'
DD: Second chances are a big part of life. What might Flores be able to do better if he has a second chance at a head coaching job?
Oyefusi: After the surprise of the dismissal on Monday, I think one of the things that we heard from the owner of the Dolphins was, collaboration and communication and maybe just developing some relationships with members of the organization. It was interesting to hear Brian Flores talk after the team won its final game of the season against the Patriots. He said 'I would like to think that I learned a lot this season, that I've grown as a person.' I think that if there's one thing that he would take into whatever his next stop is. Just kind of going forward and developing those relationships. Making sure that everyone's on the same page in terms of the plan of the organization and executing that plan as well.