The final product seen on Sundays in the fall by football fans is the result of a year-long process; a process that requires countless hours of preparation and dialog among coaches, scouts, executives and everyone attached to a club's football operations.
One of the major landmarks on that 12-month calendar is the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. In lieu of traditional podium session at the convention center in downtown Indianapolis, a chipper, complimentary Flores fielded questions from team headquarters in Davie ahead of next week's frenzy.
With only five days until the official start of the new league year, and just three days until the legal tampering period opens, Flores fielded questions about quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the third pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and the behind-the-scenes work of his staff the last two months. Before the Q&A, and after some congratulations to the new fathers among the South Florida media (congratulations are in order to Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun Sentinel), Flores opened with what he described as a state of the union.
In his opening address, Flores announced changes to his coaching staff:
- Co-Offensive Coordinators: George Godsey and Eric Studesville
- Cornerbacks Coach: Charles Burks
- Defensive Line Coach: Austin Clark
- Outside Linebackers Coach: Rob Leonard
- Assistant Offensive Line Coach: Shawn Flaherty
- Assistant Tight Ends Coach: Mike Judge
Godsey and Studesville, in addition to promotion to co-coordinators, retain their previous positions coaching the tight ends and running backs. Last season, Godsey served as the fill-in quarterbacks coach when COVID-19 protocols forced Miami into contingency plans. One of those contingencies, according to Flores, was Studesville's weekly preparations for the role of play caller.
"From a play-calling standpoint – a lot of that, the legwork, is done during the week," Flores said. I know George and Eric, George has called plays in the past. Eric was – with COVID, we had the situation where we had to have a backup at every position, so Eric was preparing to call the game if something happened to Chan (Gailey) the entire year."
A key role inherent to any offensive coordinator position is working closely with the quarterback. Flores touched on his 23-year-old signal-caller, Tua Tagovailoa, who is entering Year 2 in the NFL.
"I'm excited about Tua and this upcoming season. I think that when you think about his situation last year coming off the hip (injury), we kind of through him in the fire there in Week 7 or Week 8 – I'm not sure exactly what week it was. He started nine games. I thought he made a lot of improvement throughout the course of the season. He had some ups, had some downs, like all of the rookies and like any rookie. I'm really excited about this – that Year 1 to Year 2 jump."
Today, on the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield, Travis and guest Benjamin Solak of The Draft Network broke down Tagovailoa's rookie season.
The Dolphins used the fifth pick in last year's draft to select Tagovailoa. Miami is slated to pick third next month in the 2021 draft, a position that gives the Dolphins a lot of flexibility.
"Any time you pick third overall, there's a number of players and a number of ways you can go," Flores said.
"Again, our scouting staff … I think they've done a really great job as far as narrowing down who the top players are in this draft," he continued. "We have a pretty good idea of who those are. I think everyone – or most people who are kind of analyzing it know who those players are. We'll have an opportunity to grab one of them at least in let's call it the top 10; but obviously having that type of pick, there's a lot of other avenues we could go."
With the draft seven weeks out, the focus now is on free agency, a period that comes equipped with a theme song for Flores.
"I think I'm going to be playing the song 'you can't always get what you want,' on Day 1 in free agency, to be honest with you, because we may get priced out on some guys we're looking at that we'd like to have," Flores said. "They may just want to go elsewhere. So I think we're going to try to do the best we can."
The Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield published a five-part offseason preview series that you can download now, wherever you get your podcasts.