Brian Flores

AFC Notes: Marrone, Dolphins, Lawson

After the Jaguars ugly 42-20 loss to the Titans, the team fell to 4-7 and reporters asked head coach Doug Marrone if the team would be making any changes at quarterback or defensive coordinator. Marrone remained steadfast that he is not considering changes at either spot, according to Michael DiRocco of ESPN.

Marrone, currently in his third season as Jacksonville’s official head coach (he served as the interim at the end of 2016), is still looking to replicate the success he found in his first year at the helm. That season the Jaguars had one of the best defensive units in football that carried a team with questionable quarterback play to the AFC Championship Game. Since, the team is 9-18 and recently looks in disarray defensively. On the opposite side of the field, rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew showed promise while Nick Foles was out with a broken collarbone. Foles returned last week, but has yet to lead a strong offensive performance.

Here’s some more Sunday notes from the AFC:

  • Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is perfect for the Dolphins situation, according to Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald. Fitzpatrick has helped their offensive unit maintain an acceptable level of competence, but not to a level that could cause the team to win enough games to have their first round pick fall outside the top five in next year’s draft. Salguero also notes that head coach Brian Flores’ choices have made clear that Miami believes that Josh Rosen is not the franchise’s answer under center.
  • The Bills defense dominated the Broncos offense in Sunday’s 20-3 victory. It’s no secret that Buffalo has one of the best defensive units in football, but one player seemed to be playing with a little chip on his shoulder. According to Denver7’s Troy Renck, Bills edge rusher Shaq Lawson, who recorded two sacks on Sunday, looked for Broncos center Connor McGovern after the contest to tell him, “You will remember me now.” Apparently, McGovern said he did not who Lawson was prior to the game and the Clemson alum took note.

AFC Notes: Jackson, Miller, Fitzpatrick

Former Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and the Ravens released a statement denying a report by Michael Lombardi of The Athletic claiming Mornhinweg wanted to move Lamar Jackson to wide receiver. Jackson, of course, was the subject of much debate as a draft prospect with many pundits, including ESPN’s Bill Polian, calling for a position change to wide receiver.

Jackson, however, remained adamant that he was a quarterback, was selected in the first round by Baltimore and has taken the NFL by storm over the past two seasons. Mornhinweg, who was replaced by Greg Roman as the team’s offensive coordinator entering this season, made clear in his statement that “My thoughts before the draft, and even more when we started working with Lamar, was that this young man was going to be a special quarterback.” Regardless of what his opinions were at the time, Jackson has proven he is an NFL signalcaller.

Here’s more notes from around the AFC:

  • The Broncos were deflated after blowing a 20-0 lead in their 27-23 loss to the Vikings on Sunday. To try and help team moral, all-pro linebacker Von Miller organized a team dinner just a couple hours after landing back in Denver, according to Kyle Newman of the Denver Post. Per Newman’s report, the dinner was a resounding success. Players brought their family members and seemed to rebound from their loss and get ready for another week.
  • Dolphins head coach Brian Flores told reporters that Ryan Fitzpatrick will remain Miami’s starting quarterback this week against the Browns, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Flores, however, would not rule out the possibility of backup quarterback Josh Rosen retaking the job from Fitzpatrick at some point this season.

Latest On Dolphins’ Trades, Strategy

In addition to moving on from numerous veterans this offseason, the Dolphins have now traded two players who were seemingly building blocks in Laremy Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick. These moves appear to have tripped the NFL’s alarm.

The Tunsil trade involved numerous Texans offers, with Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reporting the steps the AFC teams took to finalizing the trade that sent the left tackle to Houston. The Texans’ offers went from Jadeveon Clowney-for-Tunsil, straight up, to Clowney and a first-rounder for Tunsil to first- and second-rounders for Tunsil. The Dolphins managed to drive the price to two first-rounders and a second-round selection and requested tackle Julie’n Davenport in return, Salguero notes.

Upon seeing the Texans’ deal-closing offer on a board in Chris Grier‘s office, Tunsil told the Dolphins GM, “I would trade me for that too,” Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald adds (via Twitter).

In reshuffling their power structure after last season, the Dolphins were not planning to jettison Tunsil, Fitzpatrick, Kiko Alonso or T.J. McDonald. (The Dolphins dealt Alonso to the Saints and released McDonald.) Brian Flores‘ coaching staff clashed with Alonso, Salguero adds, and asked him to play multiple roles — including edge defender. The Dolphins demoted the highly paid linebacker before trading him.

Fitzpatrick is a Steeler, being dealt after a trade request. The second-year defensive back was not on board with the versatile role the Dolphins asked him to play, and Salguero adds the team never found a sufficient comfort level that would allow Fitzpatrick to settle in at one spot. Both Grier and owner Stephen Ross attempted to help Fitzpatrick and Miami’s coaching staff find common ground.

Myself, Brian, and Steve (Ross) — we had multiple conversations with him, saying we wanted him here and viewed him as a core piece and wanted him here,” Grier said. “The kid just felt it was time for him to move, and we told him what the value was. We told teams we had multiple offers, and we felt that the Pittsburgh one was the one best for the organization.”

Fitzpatrick’s rookie deal was worth $16.447MM over four years. Similar to the deal in which the Dolphins acquired Josh Rosen, the Steelers are only on the hook for Fitzpatrick’s base salaries. Pittsburgh has the 2018 No. 11 overall pick under contract through 2021 for $5.48MM, Field Yates of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter).
The Dolphins now hold three 2020 first-round picks. A building suspicion in NFL circles centers on the prospect this Dolphins rebuild may be a stealth effort for Trevor Lawrence in 2021, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. But Salguero adds one of Miami’s three 2020 first-rounders will be used to draft a quarterback — regardless of how Rosen performs in what now may be an extended audition. The Cardinals in 2018-19 and Baltimore Colts in 1982-83 were the most recent franchises to draft first-round passers in consecutive years, so as of now it looks like this oft-labeled tanking strategy is built around Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa (should he enter the 2020 draft).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Josh Rosen To Start For The Dolphins

It’s been a tough week for veteran quarterbacks. The Eli Manning-era in New York came to an end earlier this week. Ben Roethlisberger may have played his last game for the yellow-and-gold after going down with an elbow injury and Drew Brees is out of the Saints’ lineup with a thumb injury. Now, another veteran quarterback is on the outs, as the Ryan Fitzpatrick era in Miami appears to be over.

Josh Rosen will make his first start for the Dolphins against the Cowboys on Sunday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (Twitter link). Rapoport hears that coach Brian Flores made the decision this afternoon.

Rosen, who Miami gave up a second-rounder for, started 13 games for the Cardinals as a rookie last season. The offensive line in Arizona wasn’t a strength because of injuries and a lack of talent and Rosen struggled, completing just 55.2% of his passes. Rosen will again be saddled with a poor offensive line and it’s arguable that the weapons around him in Miami are inferior to the ones he had out in the desert.

The former No. 10 overall pick has seen action on two occasions this season, both coming late in Miami’s pair of blowout losses. He’s completed 8-of-21 pass attempts for 102 yards so far during his time in Miami.

Dolphins Cut Kiko Alonso

The Dolphins cut Kiko Alonso en route to reaching the 53-man max. Both moves were rumored this week, but the Fins were waiting to see if they could arrange a trade for the linebackers before letting them go.

Alonso requested a trade during training camp when he realized that he would be squeezed out of the Dolphins’ plans in one fashion or another. New coach Brian Flores is overseeing a defensive overhaul and he didn’t have much use for the veteran, despite his three years of starting experience in Miami. Originally drafted by the Bills in the second-round back in 2013, Alonso won’t play out the two years left on his four-year, $28.9MM deal.

Here are the other moves made by Miami to make their roster kosher by Week 1:

Brian Flores Talks Dolphins’ QB Competition

Ryan Fitzpatrick will start the Dolphins’ third preseason game against the Jaguars, which to some, may be odd given the team is in the rebuilding stages rather than pretending to be a contender. Reports out of Miami’s camp have indicated that both neither Fitzpatrick or Josh Rosen has proven to be head-and-shoulders above the other.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald was among the reporters to ask coach Brian Flores why the team wouldn’t go with Rosen if the two quarterbacks are close in competition.

“A case could be made [for] playing the older guy,” Flores said. “A case could also be made that the younger guy is not ready. I understand that thought process, but I’m the one dealing with the individual player, and sometimes guys just aren’t ready.

“The whole sink-or-swim mentality, it’s easy for somebody on the outside to say. But for that individual player and the best interests of that individual person, that might not be the case. For those who aren’t in the trenches and dealing with the day to day, they wouldn’t understand that. If a guy is ready, we’ll put him out there. If he’s not, we won’t put him out there. I think that’s the right way to approach it.”

Fitzpatrick has received the majority of first-team snaps this week, if not all of them, Jackson writes. Rosen may or may not see time with the first-string on Thursday. Flores said that the team’s third preseason game will not be the only factor in the decision of who will start come week 1.

Rosen said he doesn’t have any more insight on where he stands than the public does, Jackson relays. The former first-round pick said he’s not focusing on the competition but rather, he’s zeroing in on individual improvement.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, McCourty, Dolphins

Ben Watson is now in his second stint with the Patriots, and the veteran tight end acknowledged that he has a greater respect for coach Bill Belichick than he did during his first go-around.

“I definitely have a different appreciation for him than I had 15 years ago,” Watson told SiriusXM Radio (via ESPN’s Mike Reiss). “There are many ways he hasn’t changed. Sitting in the team meeting room, he says a lot of the same things, because they are still true. Being much older than I was before, I’m able to appreciate that a lot more — a lot of the coaching, and embrace it in a way I wasn’t before. I can also see him separate from the coach, he does enjoy himself, he does smile, he does do all those things as a young player you thought he never did.”

The 2004 first-round pick spent the first six seasons of his career with New England, and he came out of retirement to (partly) replace the offensive production of Rob Gronkowski. Watson will sit out the first four games of the upcoming season after failing a drug test.

Let’s check out some more notes out of the AFC East…

  • The Patriots have had an undrafted rookie make their 53-man roster for 15 straight years, and Reiss writes that NC State wideout Jakobi Meyers is the leading candidate to earn a spot this year. The six-foot-two wideout was seen practicing with the first team all week, and the Patriots’ depth chart is currently struggling with Julian Edelman sitting out. Meyers hauled in 92 receptions for NC State last season, breaking Torry Holt‘s school record.
  • Safety Devin McCourty is about to start his 10th NFL season, but the Patriots veteran hasn’t thought about when he’s going to hang up his cleats. “I’ve been having a lot of fun this year,” McCourty told Jeff Howe of The Athletic. “I haven’t thought about next year or anything else. I’m just trying to see how much better I can get in year 10 and see how good I can be still at, in a couple weeks, (when I turn) 32 years old and still playing football and trying to embrace that.”
  • The Dolphins defense should look a whole lot different next season, and Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes that much of that can be attributed to the defensive-minded Brian Flores. The team’s new head coach is planning on having several different looks (or “groups,” as Flores calls them) on defense, including 3-4, 4-3, 5-2, and something else altogether different. “It really comes back to trying to put the right personnel groupings out there to match up with what the offense is doing and try to maximize the skill set of our players,” explained defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. “If it’s five or 10 safeties, then that’s what it is.”
  • Defensive lineman Tank Carradine is a fan of the defensive scheme, noting that it could help him become a three-down player. “There are different schemes that we run, and I have to be able to set the edge, play inside,” Carradine said. “They’re trying to move me all over the field. That’s something that I like. It’s giving me a chance to play different positions and be all out there and be an every-down player.”

AFC East Notes: Bell, Bills, Flores

The Bell has rung. As Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets, Le’Veon Bell has arrived at the Jets‘ facility in advance of tomorrow’s mandatory minicamp. There was never a chance that Bell would fail to show up for minicamp, but given the drama that has followed him from Pittsburgh to New York, it’s still noteworthy, if for no other reason than to see how he will interact with new head coach Adam Gase.

Now for several more items from the AFC East:

  • Speaking at Jim Kelly‘s annual charity golf tournament this morning, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he believes that a new stadium is essential to the stability of a franchise (via Matthew Fairburn of The Athletic). With respect to the Bills specifically, Goodell made it very clear that team ownership will need to address the club’s stadium situation at some point in the near future to keep the Bills in Buffalo. Goodell has made similar remarks in the past, but the article — which includes more of Goodell’s comments — are well worth a read for Bills fans, as it also details the unique challenges that ownership faces in meeting Goodell’s demands.
  • Brian Flores is making a strong first impression with the Dolphins, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. A number of players are less than keen on the old-school mentality and the demanding nature of the new coaching staff, but others are enjoying it, and Flores himself has drawn rave reviews. Players have lauded the rookie head coach both publicly and privately, which is a bit more meaningful for Flores than it might be for another HC. The Dolphins are in full rebuild mode, so Flores will be judged not necessarily on wins and losses — at least not for a year or two — but on how his players respond to him and compete for him.
  • In the same piece linked above, Jackson notes that the Dolphins are taking a wait-and-see approach with several players entering the final years of their contracts like RB Kenyan Drake and WR Jakeem Grant.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Lee, Allen, Fins

Rich Cimini of ESPN.com believes the Jets, who set a league spending record by doling out $137MM in total guarantees in free agency thus far, are very interested in trading down from their No. 3 overall pick to accumulate more draft capital. Despite its high-spending ways, New York still has a number of holes to fill, and with his QB of the future already in tow, GM Mike Maccagnan — who is under a ton of pressure this year — may look to add picks so that he can address those holes in the draft. After all, the Jets have only six picks in the draft at present, the third-fewest in the league.

Now for more from the AFC East:

  • In the same piece linked above, Cimini writes that the Jets will look to shop linebacker Darron Lee during the draft. Lee is expendable now that C.J. Mosley is in the fold, and even if New York does not find any takers, Cimini does not think the club will cut Lee immediately. He suggests that the Jets could hold on to Lee in the hopes that another team suddenly finds itself in need of a young LB with a first-round pedigree, and he points out that New York was able to deal another disappointing first-round pick, Calvin Pyror, in a June trade several years ago.
  • The Patriots recently re-signed punter Ryan Allen to a one-year deal, but Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says the club actually had a multiyear offer on the table. Allen, though, preferred the shorter option because he did not like the money he was being offered on the open market, and he wanted a chance to increase his worth on a prove-it deal. Reiss says, however, that New England could be more inclined to bring in competition for Allen, just as it did last season.
  • Reiss observes that cornerback Jason McCourty, who recently signed a two-year, $10MM pact to remain with the Patriots, did receive interest from several other clubs. McCourty had made it clear that he wanted to return to New England, so while he appreciated the opportunity to hit the open market at the start of free agency for the first time in his career, he is happy with how things turned out.
  • New Dolphins head coach Brian Flores has, predictably, refuted the talk that his team is tanking in 2019, and he would not concede that the club is embarking on a multiyear rebuild, either. As Grant Gordon of NFL.com writes, Flores told the NFL Network’s Judy Battista, “I think every team’s rebuilding. That’s this league. Every team rebuilds every year because no team is the same every year. I can tell you, we’re going to go try, gonna go out there and try to win every game. I think the foundation is there, and we’ll just, you know, like every other team we’re building.”

Coaching Notes: Patriots, Slauson, Boyer, Colts, AAF

Following a long run with the Patriots as cornerbacks and defensive backs coach, Josh Boyer will join new head coach Brian Flores in Miami, the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride writes.

Boyer joined New England in 2006 as a defensive assistant after serving as defensive coordinator at the South Dakota School of Mines. After spending three seasons as an assistant, he assumed defensive backs coach duties, and served in a similar position from 2009 to 2018. With the Patriots, Boyer won three Super Bowls.

He will become defensive backs coach in Miami while also serving as the defensive pass game coordinator.

Boyer becomes the latest member of the Patriots coaching staff to exit the team following the AFC powerhouse’s 13-3 win over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII. He joins Chad O’Shea (receivers coach) and Jerry Schuplinski (assistant quarterbacks coach) to follow former Patriots defensive coordinator Flores to Miami. Defensive line coach Brendan Daly also departed the staff, taking a similar role with the Chiefs.

Here’s more from the league’s coaching scene:

  • Raiders defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley is joining the University of Tennessee staff in a similar role, NBC Sports’ Scott Bair writes. Ansley will reunite with head coach Jeremy Pruitt, who he served with while with the University of Alabama. Last year was Ansley’s first in the NFL, and the Raiders reportedly were happy with the job he did with the team’s young defensive backs.
  • Recently retired offensive lineman Matt Slauson turned down a coaching job with the Colts, SiriusXM’s Alex Marvez tweets. Marvez notes Slauson said he wants to spend more time with his family following his nine-year run in the NFL but left open the possibility of entering the coaching ranks at a later date. In 2018, the right guard made five starts with Indianapolis.
  • Former Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle has resurfaced as the head coach of the Atlanta Legends of the AAF, ESPN’s Michael Rothstein writes. He originally joined the team expecting to be the defensive coordinator but assumed head coaching duties after former NFL head coach Brad Childress abruptly resigned. Miami’s defensive coordinator for four seasons, Coyle last appeared in the NFL as the Bengals’ defensive backs coach from 2016-17.