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Barry Jackson

Prominent former college coach linked to Dolphins assistant job. And Rizzi in demand


New England Patriots de facto defensive coordinator Brian Flores, who is widely expected to become the next coach of the Dolphins if the sides agree on a contract and finalize a deal, already is working on his new Dolphins staff and has interest in a role for a prominent former college head coach, according to a source.

Flores holds former Wisconsin and Arkansas coach Brett Bielema in high regard, and the two have gotten to know each other well in the past year, with Bielema currently working as a consultant to Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

One source briefed on the situation said he believes Bielema - along with others - is receiving consideration for the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator job and could end up on Miami’s coaching staff in some role.

Another candidate for the defensive coordinator job, as Sirius XM’s Alex Marvez noted, is Packers defensive run game coordinator and inside linebacker coach Patrick Graham.

Before becoming a college head coach, Bielema coached linebackers at Iowa, was co-defensive coordinator at Kansas State and was defensive coordinator at Wisconsin (2004-05).

He was 68-24 in seven years as head coach at Wisconsin. He was fired as Arkansas coach in November 2017 after going 29-34 in five seasons.

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The Patriots have had success drafting players recruited and coached by Bielema, including James White, Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise.

Bielema joined the Patriots last offseason and handled several roles in the past year, including helping on special teams and scouting pro days. His official title with the Patriots is “assistant to the head coach.”

In August, Belichick described Bielema’s role this way: “Bret’s got a lot of experience,” Belichick said. “Obviously, he was the head coach at Wisconsin, Arkansas. He’s dealt with a lot of different players, situations, and he’s primarily worked on defense as an assistant coach, so he’s given us some help there between the defensive ends and tackles.

“He’s also been somebody that I’ve used and has helped me with some overall head-coaching-type responsibilities — planning and team management and things like that.... He’s been a good addition to our group, and he’s really fit in well with everybody. He’s a great guy, a good guy, an easy guy to get along with. Everybody likes him.”

The Dolphins aren’t permitted to hire Flores until after New England’s season has concluded. The Patriots play host to the Chargers in a playoff game on Sunday.

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Meanwhile, there are other developments with the Dolphins’ coaching staff:

▪ According to a source, several teams have expressed interest in hiring Dolphins special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi, who is highly regarded internally. A decision by Rizzi isn’t considered imminent.

Rizzi interviewed for the Dolphins head coaching job on Friday but will not be getting the job, barring something unexpected.

According to NFL Network’s Albert Breer, Flores wanted to hire Greg Roman as his offensive coordinator, but that plan was scuttled when Baltimore promoted him to offensive coordinator on Saturday.

New York Jets and former Dolphins coach Adam Gase declined to answer Saturday when asked if he intends to raid the Dolphins’ coaching staff.

The Dolphins had no comment on a report by Sirius XM’s Alex Marvez that defensive line coach Kris Kocurek and linebackers coach Frank Bush are expected to accompany Gase to New York.

Marvez later reported that Kocurek could end up with another team, not the Jets.

The Jets hadn’t asked for permission to speak to Bush as of Saturday afternoon.

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