What Dolphins’ Brian Flores is thankful for after 2020; plus comments on 2021 NFL draft and Chan Gailey’s future

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While Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores has been successful during 2020, he will take away something more important when he looks back on the year.

While the coronavirus pandemic and social justice issues following the deaths of people like Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery took center stage, Flores is thankful this year allowed for significantly more time with his family than what’s typical of an NFL coach.

“On the bright side, which I liked to look at that, that time when we were in lockdown I got to spend a lot of time with my wife and kids so that was good – really good,” Flores said on New Year’s Eve Thursday.

“From 2020, I take for me, there was a lot of things that were difficult, but that time in March and April and May when everything was locked down, a lot of coaches would be on the road, doing draft this or that, I was with my wife and kids. I thought the draft was a lot of fun, and my kids can’t wait for the draft next year.

“We can sit here and talk about how bad everything was, but there was some good --- a lot of good – from family standpoint and the growth of this team,” Flores added. “Obviously I’m happy with that but still trying to improve and develop like we always are.”

Flores’ Dolphins improved greatly thanks to an influx of new talent via free agent and the 2020 NFL draft to have a 10-5 record before Sunday’s season finale against the Buffalo Bills.

After going 5-11 during the 2019 season, the Dolphins are in position to reach the postseason in Flores’ second season.

Miami needs a win at Buffalo to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2016, second since 2008 and third since 2001.

Or the Dolphins could get into the playoff mix with a loss if the Browns (hosting the Steelers), Baltimore Ravens (at Bengals) or Indianapolis Colts (hosting the Jaguars) lose their finales on Sunday.

Eye toward 2021 NFL draft

Speaking of the next NFL draft, the Dolphins are in position to have a Top 5 pick for the second straight year.

Actually, the Dolphins’ pick could be either No. 3 or No. 4 depending on the outcome of Sunday’s game between the Houston Texas and Tennessee Titans.

If Houston loses, the Dolphins could have the No. 3 pick, which stemmed from their blockbuster trade involving former Dolphins left tackle Laremy Tunsil before the 2019 season.

Asked about the draft pick’s potential, Flores deferred to Dolphins general manager Chris Grier, who has not spoken to media since the 2020 draft last April.

“I’ll let Chris and the personnel staff handle that stuff. … I’m focused on the Bills, and we’re reflecting on family and the 2020 year – not the draft,” Flores said Thursday.

Chan Gailey’s future

Flores also deflected a question about Dolphins offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s future with the team next season.

Gailey, 68, was persuaded out of a three-year retirement to join the Dolphins coaching staff after Flores fired former offensive coordinator and friend Chad O’Shea one day after the 2019 season concluded.

With Gailey’s help, the Dolphins have tried to implement a run-pass-option offense to suit rookie starter Tua Tagovailoa, although Miami lacks playmakers on offense to execute the scheme smoothly.

Gailey also reunited for his sixth season with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, whose gunslinger mentality has been on full display when he has played this season.

Gailey said on Tuesday: “I’m thinking about how to go up and beat Buffalo. That’s what I’m thinking about. I’m not thinking about anything else right now. How can I help this football team go beat Buffalo?”

Added Flores: “I think Chan is focused on the Bills just like we’re all focused on the Bills. That’s where I want his focus and energy. I’ll leave it at that.”

Dolphins injuries

Leading receiver DeVante Parker (hamstring) was limited to start the Dolphins’ practice week on Wednesday. He has missed the last two games.

Defensive end Shaq Lawson (shoulder) and rookie offensive lineman Solomon Kindley (knee/foot) were also limited. They missed the Las Vegas Raiders game last week.

Safety Bobby McCain, who is playing through an ankle injury, was also limited.

Tight end Mike Gesicki, who played through a shoulder injury last week, and left guard Ereck Flowers, who played through an ankle injury, were full participants Wednesday.

This story will be updated after Thursday’s practice.