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A sign of a successful week for any football coach:
When a bunch of players who were strangers a week ago dump a cooler of candy over your head in celebration.
That’s how Brian Flores’ 2021 Senior Bowl wrapped up, and he deserved the bath.
And it suggested that Flores, who along with more than five-dozen members of the Dolphins organization flew to Mobile to coach this year’s annual all-star showcase, succeeded in two ways this week.
Flores and his staff were able to both teach and reach these young players — several of whom might be members of the organization in just a few months.
“It was very different,” Flores told NFL Network with a chuckle after his National team beat Matt Rhule’s American team 27-24 in Mobile Saturday. “I was expecting some cold and got completely the opposite. There’s a first time for everything.”
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups sponsors the event, and savvy game organizers smartly provided National team linemen Dillon Radunz and Spencer Brown with a bucket of product to drop on Flores’ head as the clock wound down.
A fun moment after a well-played game that was both revealing and familiar.
The revealing part?
The Dolphins still do not have an offensive coordinator hired for 2021, and their two internal candidates for the job both had the chance Saturday to make a strong closing argument.
“We split,” Flores said, when asked who called offensive plays. “Eric [Studesville] called half the game, George [Godsey] called half the game. Both guys did a nice job. I’m confident in all the guys on our staff. As I said the other day, we’re still working through the coordinator situation.”
If either gets the promotion, what system will they run? Still unclear, but we got a hint Saturday, when the National team offense looked a lot like the Miami Dolphins’ offense from a year ago.
Power running. Shotgun. RPOs. Quick hitters. Play action. Check downs.
And enough efficiency to let a swarming defense do the rest.
While game rules mandated a vanilla game plan, Josh Boyer’s defense still made plays, blanking the opposition in the first half and surrendering just 70 yards before the break. The National team also had an interception and a big stop on fourth and 1 in the fourth quarter to preserve the win.
News and notes
▪ The Dolphins staff’s best available offensive playmaker Saturday? Probably North Carolina running back Michael Carter, a name painfully familiar for Miami Hurricanes fans.
Carter broke free for a 32-yard scamper in the first half and then later moved the pile five yards for a touchdown in the second. It capped an excellent week of work that didn’t go unnoticed by Dolphins coaches.
Carter, who chewed up UM for 308 yards and two touchdowns in an ACC matchup last month, entered the week as a possible Day 2 pick and the draft’s sixth-best running back, according to CBS Sports.
“He’s a hard working kid,” Flores said of Carter. “He’s smart. He’s tough. He was productive all week. He had a very nice career for UNC. He’s a good back.”
▪ Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, a potential first-round pick who won both the Davey O’Brien and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm awards, tweaked his ankle during practice this week and did not play Saturday.
▪ The Senior Bowl’s exhaustive coronavirus protocols apparently worked.
“Grateful to announce there was only one positive Covid test out of 3,635 administered tests during 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl week,” Jim Nagy, the game’s executive director, announced on Twitter. “All players and NFL team personnel submitted a negative test within 48 hours of arrival and were tested every day in Mobile.”
▪ Prior to the game, Flores named Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger as the National team’s starter over Notre Dame’s Ian Book and Arkansas’ Feleipe Franks.
“Sam’s got some real leadership qualities,” Flores told NFL Network. “We had heard that about his time in college. That showed this week — command of the huddle, command of the offense. ... He did a nice job.”