KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores was a part of the New England Patriots organization for 14 years before coming to Miami, serving on the defensive coaching staff for eight seasons. Serving with him for five of those years was current Chiefs run game coordinator/defensive line coach Brendan Daly.
“He’s a great friend, and he’s a guy I respect quite a bit,” Daly said of Flores.
Flores noted Daly as one of his closest friends in the coaching industry, and the Chiefs’ coach is more familiar than anyone with what Flores, this week’s opponent, brings to the table.
“I think that football team reflects him and it reflects the way he coaches,” Daly said. “They’re a very competitive team, a very tough team. They are very good in situational football.”
The upstart Dolphins will be a lot to handle for the Chiefs when they meet Sunday in Miami.
“Last year, that team played hard for (Flores). They played consistent football,” Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said. “The results may have not always been exactly what they wanted, but now, look how it’s paid off. He’s laid a foundation.”
In 2020, the Dolphins have reached their best 12-game record since 2003 at 8-4. Chiefs linebacker Anthony Hitchens said their offense can hit you in a number of different ways.
“They run the ball well, they spread you out, empty, they pass the ball,” he said. “Just like every week, it presents a new challenge, but this week, we have our hands full with a lot of good skill guys.”
Leading the charge for the Dolphins will be rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Following a wildly successful college career with the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Dolphins selected him with the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. After taking over as the starting quarterback, Tagovailoa has won four of his five starts, throwing for seven touchdowns and 898 yards with a 99.5 passer rating.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said he’s spoken to the rookie a few times, as they share the same agency, and he’s been very impressed with his performance so far.
“You could see it from his college career and now in his pro career, he knows how to manage the game and manage the situation,” Mahomes said. “That’s truly a remarkable thing. That’s something that I wasn’t that good at my first year.”
Despite his performance on the field, Mahomes said Tagovailoa has the intangibles to be a successful quarterback for a long time.
“Obviously he has the talent. He can make all the throws, he can roll to his right, to his left, he can throw off balance and he can run and make stuff happen too,” Mahomes said. “That veteran mental mindset he has, I think it’s truly special at this time in his career.”
The other main offensive weapon for the Dolphins is tight end Mike Gesicki. The third-year man out of Penn State has emerged as one of the best all-around tight ends in football this season.
“Boy, he’s a tall drink of water,” Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. “These tight ends nowadays, we call them tight ends, but we should be calling them big wideouts. He can run, he’s nifty, and they find ways to get him the football.”
As Gesicki has risen toward the top of the tight end ranks in the league, Flores said Gesicki likes to study other top tight ends, namely, Travis Kelce.
“(Gesicki) has really good hands, soft hands, and he’s a good route runner,” Chiefs defensive backs coach Sam Madison said. “When you look at Kelce and you look at Gesicki, they’re going to keep base personnel out there and try to get mismatches, and he’s a weapon from backed up all the way to the end zone.”
When it comes to taking down an upstart team, preparation has been key for the Chiefs, and Daly said his familiarity should work in his favor.
“(The Dolphins) present a lot of problems for you in all three phases,” Daly said. “(Flores) is a great friend, and I wish him a lot of success, just not Sunday.”
The Chiefs and Dolphins square off in Miami Sunday at noon.