INDIANAPOLIS – It's a pattern that has followed virtually every former Bill Belichick assistant who becomes a head coach: the new guy inevitably leans on the ideas and phrases of his old boss. That was certainly the case with Brian Flores when he kicked off the Combine here at the Convention Center.
Flores, speaking as the boss of the Miami Dolphins, was even asked about his repeated phrases that were reminiscent of Belichick, and if the patterns were intentional or had just rubbed off after years with the Patriots head coach.
"If you focus on last year," he began before realizing that perhaps there was something to the question, "maybe it does rub off and there's some good in that," Flores admitted. "If we're focused on last year and not on this year I would hate to take away from this year's team and focus on whatever happened a year ago. If I'm copying Bill on that then I guess that's what it is."
Flores was Belichick-like throughout his 15-minute press conference, referencing the need to find tough, smart, versatile players who are willing to put their egos aside and embrace the team concept. He also spoke of the desire to find people eager to work as a unit, much like Belichick has explained countless times over the past two decades of dominance in New England.
One of the coaches Flores tabbed to help in his cause was Patrick Graham. Graham was a member of the Patriots staff from 2009-15, working on defense with both the linebackers and the defensive line. Graham will be the Dolphins defensive coordinator and will call the plays for Flores on that side of the ball.
"Pat is someone I have a lot of respect for. He's an incredible coach," Flores said. "He's the smartest guy in the room, quite honestly. Yale grad, he likes to tell people that. Good friend of mine and we've spent a lot of time together. I feel good about him as a coach and teacher. I feel very confident about Pat as a play caller."
While Flores understandably has absorbed plenty from his time under Belichick, and has leaned heavily on people he worked with in New England, he also received plenty of advice from a lot of his former colleagues.
"I've talked to a few different guys," he admitted. "They said it would be a blur. It would happen fast. There would be a lot to do and you wouldn't have enough time. They all said to be yourself, to stick to your core values and the things that are important to you. Try to get good people around you and to always be true to who you are."
It will be interesting to watch Flores as he attempts to break the mold of former Belichick assistants who have struggled as they head out on their own.