It was exactly one year ago today that the Dolphins held a press conference to introduce Brian Flores as their new head coach.
Fresh off helping the New England Patriots win Super Bowl LIII as the defensive play-caller, Flores was joined by his wife Jenny and their three children — Miles, Maxwell and Liliana — as he talked about his new challenge and his vision for his new team.
Flores was measured but passionate when he talked about his football philosophy, and one year later it's obvious he meant every word he said at the Baptist Health Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University on Feb. 4, 2019.
Leading a team in transition, Flores kept his players focused and fighting throughout his first season as Dolphins head coach and it paid off with a strong finish that featured a 5-4 record over the final nine games with victories against NFC East champion Philadelphia and against Flores' former team in the season finale.
"I was proud of the way they dealt with adversity throughout the course of the season," Flores said of his players after the end of the regular season. "I love the way they worked in practice, in meetings, in walk-throughs, and how towards the end, they really started trusting the process.
"I thought they really worked hard and they saw some of the fruits of their labor, not only (in the season finale), but the latter stages of the season. This team knows how to deal with adversity or they learned how to deal with adversity this season. I also mentioned that every season is a little bit different. This team is going to be different than the team we'll have next year. That's the business of the National Football League. I think we laid the right foundation and need to try to build on that moving forward."
Yes, there will be changes on the Dolphins' roster this offseason, perhaps or maybe even likely dramatic changes.
According to spotrac.com, the Dolphins will enter the 2020 offseason with the most cap space (top 51 players) of any team in the NFL at $93.8 million. Throughout the offseason, only the players with the 51 largest cap hits for the season will be counted toward the salary cap.
The Dolphins also have the most draft capital with three first-round picks and two second-round picks.
Based on all those assets, the Dolphins are in a position to add a lot of significant pieces to the roster for the 2020 season.
Based on what we've seen over the past year, what shouldn't change is the way the Dolphins play or Flores' goal of fielding a team that's tough, smart, disciplined.
Those three words came up time and time again — at least once a week, if not more — during Flores' media sessions throughout the 2019 season.
For his players, another word that registers is "intense."
"He's definitely very intense," quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said two days before Super Bowl LIV. "He's a really good football coach and I think he showed that this year. The talk at the beginning of the year with the tanking and losing a bunch of guys, that was a difficult situation for him to be thrown into as a first-time head coach. I thought he navigated it unbelievably well. A lot of it was he had a message to the team, he stuck to it and he was aggressive in what he did with the game plan every single week, whether it was going for it on fourth down or the fake punts or the fake field goals or the onside kicks. He showed us through the way he coached every single day and especially on Sunday that he was out there to win, and that really rubbed off on the rest of the team."
That was exactly what Flores had said one year ago when the Dolphins made him the 13th head coach in franchise history.
He talked about improving every day and stuck with that mantra no matter the circumstances that came up throughout what became an eventful 2019 season.
The Dolphins had a pretty good idea what kind of coach they were getting when they hired Flores. One year later, it's clear he's exactly who they thought he was.