It was not a Patriots quarterback performance Brian Flores would’ve been familiar with during his long tenure as a New England assistant coach, but the result was the same.
In the end, the Patriots defeated the Dolphins 21-11 in the 2020 season-opener at Gillette Stadium.
Flores, now Miami’s head coach, watched as Cam Newton rushed for 75 yards and two touchdowns in his New England debut. It was a stark difference from Newton’s predecessor, Tom Brady, who Flores — as a Patriots positional coach — won multiple Super Bowls with.
But with Brady now with the Buccaneers and Newton in his place, it was a run-first Patriots team that trampled Flores’s Dolphins. In the end, New England totaled 217 yards rushing, averaging 5.2 yards per carry.
“We have to do better at run defense,” Flores admitted afterward. “Obviously the quarterback was an issue. Yeah, we’ve got to do a better job.”
Flores was asked if Newton’s running caught the Dolphins off-guard.
“I wouldn’t say it was a surprise,” Flores replied. “Cam’s still Cam, former MVP. We definitely respected his talent on the field. So we just have to play together. Today we got a little sloppy. A little undisciplined but also we’ve got to come together and play better defense.”
While Bill Belichick praised his team’s conditioning after a preseason that included no games, Flores noted that his team was lacking in that category.
“I thought overall the tackling could have been better, the conditioning could have been better,” Flores admitted. “Obviously without — we’re not going to make any excuses on whether we had preseason games. They didn’t have any preseason games either. But all things we can improve on. We can improve the tackling, improve the run defense. We can improve the conditioning. Gonna work on those things over the course of the week and we’ve got a tough opponent next week and we’ll get back to it.”
Asked about Miami’s final drive of the game — which ended in an interception — Flores refrained from criticizing a possibly missed pass interference call by the officiating.
“Whether they made the call, didn’t make the call, not much we can do,” said Flores. “We’ve just got to live with the calls that are made or made on the field.”
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