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NFL notes: Dolphins reportedly set to hire Patriots assistant Brian Flores as coach

NFL notes: Dolphins reportedly set to hire Patriots assistant Brian Flores as coach
Brian Flores is currently preparing Patriots linebackers for their playoff game against the Chargers on Sunday. (Charles Krupa / Associated Press)

The Miami Dolphins are expected to hire Brian Flores, a New England assistant, as their next coach, according to the NFL Network and Associated Press.

A person familiar with the coaching search told the Associated Press that the Dolphins were prepared to offer Flores the job when the Patriots’ season ended. New England plays host to the Chargers on Sunday in a divisional playoff game.

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If they fail to reach a deal with Flores, they haven't ruled out Dallas Cowboys secondary coach Kris Richard, said the person on condition of anonymity Friday because the Dolphins weren't commenting publicly about the status of the search.

Flores has been a Patriots assistant for 11 seasons and took over defensive play-calling a year ago after the departure of defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. In Miami he would replace Adam Gase, who was fired after three seasons and hired Wednesday as coach of the New York Jets.

Earlier Friday, Darren Rizzi, a long-time Dolphins assistant, joined the list of candidates to interview for the job when he met with owner Stephen Ross and general manager Chris Grier. The Dolphins also interviewed their offensive coordinator, Dowell Loggains, but he's considered a dark horse among the six candidates.

Rizzi joined the Miami staff in 2009 and has won the vocal support of such current and former Dolphins as Kiko Alonso, Kenyan Drake, Reggie Bush, Jarvis Landry and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jason Taylor. “It's about time someone recognizes how good Darren Rizzi is,” Taylor posted on Twitter.

After a flurry of firings following the regular season, all the vacant head coaching jobs are filled except in Miami.

In other NFL news:

— A person with knowledge of the breakdown in talks tells the Associated Press that Gary Kubiak won't return to run the Denver Broncos' offense for new head coach Vic Fangio as had been expected. The person, who spoke Friday on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the situation, said the two longtime NFL veterans couldn't agree on scheme, philosophy and staffing. Kubiak remains under contract with the Broncos and will continue in his role as a senior personnel adviser to general manager John Elway in 2019.

— Former Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph has been hired as the defensive coordinator on new Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury's staff. General Manager Steve Keim had said he wanted a veteran defensive coordinator to pair with Kingsbury, who has no NFL coaching experience and will focus on offense. Joseph was fired on Dec. 31 after two seasons as coach of the Broncos. He has 14 years of coaching experience in the NFL, 12 on the defensive side of the ball. In addition, the Cardinals announced the hiring of Bill Davis as linebackers coach and said that Jeff Rodgers will return as special teams coordinator.

— The NFC North-champion Chicago Bears have hired former Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano as their defensive coordinator to replace Vic Fangio. Pagano inherits one of the NFL's stingiest defenses after Fangio left to take the Denver Broncos' head coaching job. He will get to work with one of the league's best pass rushers in Khalil Mack as well as two other All-Pros — cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson. Pagano led Indianapolis to a 53-43 record and two AFC South championships from 2012 to 2017.

— The Pittsburgh Steelers have hired Teryl Austin as a senior defensive assistant coach. The team announced the move Friday, adding that Austin's focus will be the secondary. Austin has coached in the NFL for the better part of two decades, including stops in Detroit and Cincinnati as defensive coordinator. Austin previously worked as a secondary coach for Seattle, Arizona and Baltimore. The 53-year-old Austin grew up in western Pennsylvania and played four seasons at defensive back for the University of Pittsburgh during the 1980s.

— The NFL is launching a social justice platform, with an emphasis on education, economic development and community and police relations. The platform is called Inspire Change and includes the funding of grass-roots organizations. It also will establish a digital learning curriculum for African-American history in 175 underserved high schools. The league announced the initiative in connection with its 32 teams and a group of players that works for social justice. “This launch involves new grants, new African-American history education programs in schools, grants with organizations we have not worked with before and who are doing the work on the ground, and PSAs on broadcasts beginning with this weekend's playoff games,” said Anna Isaacson, the NFL's senior vice president of social responsibility.

John Michels, a College Football Hall of Famer whose 27 seasons as a Minnesota Vikings assistant coach included all four of their Super Bowl appearances, has died. He was 87. Michels' daughter, Sarah Michels-Dunkel, said that her father died Thursday in Kingsport, Tenn. Michels worked on the Vikings' coaching staff from 1967-93, making him the longest-tenured assistant coach in franchise history. He was the offensive line coach that entire stretch, most of it under coach Bud Grant, aside from one season a running backs coach. He played for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1953 and 1956 before joining the Canadian Football League's Winnipeg Blue Bombers, where he played for Grant.

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