In one of the most bizarre and surprising news out of the NFL this week, the Miami Dolphins parted ways with head coach Brian Flores on Black Monday.
The team that finished 9-8 on the season, but won 8 of the last 9 games on their schedule let go one of the hottest coaches in the NFL.
Unfortunately, I think some forgot that the Miami Dolphins were terrible before Brian Flores arrived. Flores comes from the Bill Belichick coaching tree and might be the only good fruit to come from the tree. What Flores brought to Miami was stability and a winning mentality. Flores had re-established the Dolphins defense, gained the respect of the players on the team and the NFL, and lead the Dolphins to their first back to back winning seasons since the 02′-03′ seasons. Flores did one heck of a job in his 3 years. So what went wrong?
The answer to that question could very well be found in the 2019 season; Brian Flores first year as an NFL head coach.
In the 2019 season, many teams were asking themselves if they wanted to tank for Tua Tagovailoa. Tua had a spectacular college career for the Alabama if anyone remembers. The flaw in his game was thought to be his health. Tua was injured in his last at Alabama with an uncommon but serious injury. It is to be believed that the Dolphins were one of the franchises looking to tank. The problem was that Flores came from a winning culture in New England where he had been apart of every Super Bowl team in the Bill Belichick era. He wasn’t going to tank for anyone.
The Dolphins would end up with the 5th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. A pick too high in the draft for the guy Owner Stephan Ross wanted; quarterback Joe Burrow.
So the speculation is that Flores was let go because of winning and not getting the QBs owner Stephan Ross wanted. Everyone knows that the Dolphins were in talks with the Texans to acquire Deshaun Watson midway through the season. The trade ultimately fell through. Mike Florio of Pro football Talk’s broke down the speculation in detail in a Tuesday article he published.
For obvious reasons, Brian Flores did not want to trade for Watson because of the distraction it would have brought to his team. We don’t know whether or not Watson would have been able to play anyway due to the legal issue he is facing.
As the trade deadline came and went, Tua and the Dolphins started to perform a lot better as the season went on. Carried mostly by the defense, the Dolphins were a game or two away from making the playoffs despite Tua’s short comings.
You would think that this string of wins would get praised by the Ross the owner, but it clearly did not. The nail in the coffin for Flores was when Ross saw the Bengals become AFC North champions lead by Joe Burrow; the quarterback he originally wanted. It was a conformation that his plan to tank back in 2019 would have worked. The Dolphins would have their franchise quarterback and be sitting in the playoffs today.
But why Flores and not the GM Chris Grier?
As the Tua saga continued into this year, the other story that came out which is also “Speculation,” was that Flores did not want Tua at all. Flores wanted Justin Herbert. Honestly looking back, if you wasn’t going to be able to get Burrow with the first pick, Justin Herbert would have been a great consolation prize.
The story is that Grier wanted to stick with Tua after Flores requested the Dolphins to select Herbert. Herbert had a great college career as well. Flores took into account that Tua was already injury prone and he needed an answer for the future. If you fast forward to today, Ross and Flores would have been right about who to go for in the 2020 NFL Draft. The person who was wrong was Grier.
As bizarre as it may look, there is a report that Flores told Tua he should have picked Mac Jones this season. Flores still would not have been wrong to do so.
If you ask me, and nobody did, that is the definition of disfunction. Who ever becomes the next head coach of the Miami Dolphin they need to ask who is actually in charge? They need to get a clear cut answer as to how much decision making power do they have before signing that contract. Because their job could depend on it.
As for Brian Flores, he will become the hottest coach available this offseason. He has shown he can rebuild a team and lead men on the field.