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Brian Flores talks no fans, quarantining quarterbacks, college football

Second-year Dolphins coach has 'plan in place' for changes caused by pandemic
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores slaps hands with wide receiver Mack Hollins, December 2019
Posted at 4:36 PM, Aug 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-10 16:36:17-04

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores spoke to the media Monday about a variety of topics related to football amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Fans or no fans?

Flores, who is preparing for his second season in Miami, was asked what he thought about having fans in the stands during NFL games in 2020.

"We'd love to have fans in the stands," Flores said. "I'd love to have them -- home, away. Obviously, the fans are a big part of the game and we're not out there without their support, so from that standpoint, it is important to me."

However, Flores acknowledged that it may not be possible.

The Las Vegas Raiders have already announced that they won't have fans at games this season, and several other teams like the Buffalo Bills, New York Giants and New York Jets are playing in states with laws prohibiting fans from attending.

Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, July 2020
Lights adorn Allegiant Stadium, new home of the Las Vegas Raiders football team, as it nears completion Wednesday, July 22, 2020, in Las Vegas.

Other teams, like the Jacksonville Jaguars, who will host the Dolphins on a Thursday night in September, have announced a limited capacity for home games.

The Dolphins announced that they wouldn't have fans for preseason games at Hard Rock Stadium before the NFL canceled all exhibition games.

"If we can have fans and have them at the games in a safe way, then I'm all for it," Flores said. "If the people who make those decisions don't think that's the right thing to do, then we'll play without fans."

Quarantining quarterbacks

Flores said he hasn't ruled out the possibility of quarantining quarterbacks throughout the season in the event of an outbreak.

"We've looked into really every possible scenario, that being one of them," he said. "A lot of our meetings are on Zoom right now, so everyone, from that standpoint, is in a quarantine. So, in a lot of ways, it takes care of itself. But, yeah, we've thought about that."

Miami Dolphins QBs Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tua Tagovailoa split screen
At left, in a Dec. 29, 2019, file photo, Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick rolls out to pass against the New England Patriots in the first half of a game in Foxborough, Mass. Fitzpatrick says he has talked with rookie Tua Tagovailoa about this season's most important handoff for the Dolphins. That will be when Fitzpatrick gives up the starting job at quarterback. He's aware that day will come.

The Dolphins currently have three quarterbacks on their roster -- veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started last season, former first-round draft pick Josh Rosen, who was acquired in a trade with the Arizona Cardinals last year, and rookie Tua Tagovailoa, who was the No. 5 overall pick in this year's draft.

"We've talked through that scenario, as well as a plethora of other scenarios," Flores said, although he didn't elaborate. "I think we've got a plan in place that we feel good about."

'Day by day by day'

Asked if he believes the NFL can finish the season, Flores said he's taking it "day by day by day."

Flores said players and coaches must continue to maintain social distancing and wear masks.

"If we do that as an entire league, then we're going to put ourselves in the best position to play as many games as we can play, and that's really all we can do," he said.

While the NBA and NHL have elected to continue their seasons in a bubble, Major League Baseball is the only professional team sport that resumed its season with players traveling to and from different ballparks. That has led to outbreaks like the one that caused the Miami Marlins to postpone several games last month.

Woman wearing mask walks by empty Marlins Park, July 2020
A woman wearing a protective face covering walks past Marlins Park, Monday, July 27, 2020, in Miami. The Marlins home opener against the Baltimore Orioles was postponed as the Marlins deal with a coronavirus outbreak that stranded them in Philadelphia.

Flores said he's not going to make predictions on whether teams can finish a full 16-game schedule and the playoffs.

"Obviously, we all know that it's an airborne virus and people can get infected quickly, so all we can do is do our best to prevent that from happening," he said.

Season on the brink?

Flores said the team's scouting could be impacted should the college football season be canceled or postponed.

Empty Beaver Stadium before Penn State football game in 2019
Bleachers at Beaver Stadium are unoccupied before a college football game between Penn State and Idaho in State College, Pa., on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019.

"Obviously, from a scouting standpoint, this is the time where a lot of guys will be out on the road and looking at the prospects for next season," Flores said. "Yeah, if there is not a college season, that's something we've talked about. (General manager) Chris (Grier), myself, (Vice President of Football Administration) Brandon (Shore), (assistant general manager) Marvin Allen, we have a plan in place for how we're going to go about this scouting season if there is no season."

Flores remained tight-lipped about what that plan is, however.

"I think everyone loves college football and wants to see it, but if we don't feel like it's going to be a safe environment for those young men and that's the decision we make, we all have to live with that," Flores said. "From our standpoint, looking down the road, which we're always doing that as well, if we have to make some adjustments, then we will. With all of that said, my focus is on this team right now today."