It was a good news/bad news situation for the Dolphins and their head coaching search Sunday:
The good news is the guy they expect to hire, Brian Flores, put on a clinic.
The bad news is it will be at least another week until he takes over in Miami.
Flores, the Patriots’ linebackers coach and play-caller on defense, bewildered Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ offensive line Sunday, using a variety of blitzes and defensive looks to shut down Los Angeles’ high-flying offense.
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And in the process, he helped the Patriots advance to their eighth straight AFC Championship game.
That means Flores will remain off-limits to the Dolphins, who are expected to name him their 13th head coach whenever the Patriots’ season ends.
But if the defense he brings to Miami looks anything like the one on the field Sunday, he will be worth the wait.
Just ask the guys who will presumably play for him next year.
“Seems damn good to me champ!!” Dolphins defensive tackle Davon Godchaux wrote on Twitter, when a Miami Herald reporter asked if he was impressed by the job Flores had done Sunday.
The Patriots swarmed the league’s No. 6 scoring offense, playing a near-flawless defensive game after the Patriots surrendered a touchdown on Los Angeles’ opening drive.
The key to New England’s success? Stopping the run (the Chargers had just 19 rushing yards on 10 carries).
And then blitzing from every angle.
The pressure rattled Rivers, who didn’t have time to survey the field and throw downfield.
After Rivers’ 43-yard touchdown strike to Keenan Allen, the Patriots forced punts on the next five Chargers possessions. By the time Los. Angeles scored again, the game was long decided.
Rivers’ stats were as respectable — he finished the game 25 of 51 for 331 yards, three touchdowns and an interception — as they were hollow. The Chargers had 207 of their 335 yards in the second half, after the Patriots built a four-score lead.
Now all eyes turn to the AFC Championship game, Sunday in Kansas City. If the Patriots win, it’s then on to the Super Bowl, delaying the Dolphins’ hire another two weeks.
At the very least, the Dolphins will have to wait at least seven more days to make the hire official. And yet, Flores already is trying to put together a staff. Sources say he might bring former Wisconsin and Arkansas coach Brett Bielema with him from New England; Bielema, a consultant for Bill Belichick, seems to be the front-runner to be the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator.
Meanwhile, Darren Rizzi’s days with the Dolphins could be coming to a close after the organization passed over him for the top job. Rizzi, the team’s special teams coach for much of the last decade, might be ready to move on. He has drawn interest from other teams, and the Dolphins have granted him permission to talk to them, NFL Network first reported.
The Dolphins are hiring Bills national scout Marvin Allen to be their assistant general manager, ESPN first reported. Allen has spent the past two years with Buffalo, but his ties to Chris Grier date back to their time together in New England’s front office in the 1990s.
Miami Herald sportswriter Barry Jackson contributed to this report.