With the “Black Monday” news we got a series of firings of head coaches and GMs throughout NFL franchises, for their failed hirings. One name that shocked NFL fans, the media, and virtually everyone was the Miami Dolphins firing head coach Brian Flores. Flores was hired by the Dolphins in 2019 from the New England Patriots, a division rival. Flores’ first season ended with a 5-11 record, but he didn’t have a particularly strong team to work with.
In his second season, Miami went 10-6, missing out on a postseason berth after losing in the season finale, where Miami got blown out in spectacular fashion by the Buffalo Bills, 26 to 56. The Dolphins climbed from 1-7 to 9-8 in Flores’ third season in 2021, despite a rocky start. Whether the poor start was Flores’ fault or it was the players’ and coaches’ ability his ability to rally the club once it became healthy was noteworthy.
Did He Deserve Better?
Flores deserved a lot better. He was one of the few coaches under Bill Belichick that appeared to be on the proper track to become a quality head coach. Most of Bill’s coaches when they get hired tend to fail and not work out. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who retained general manager Chris Grier, hinted at communication challenges, alluding to the Dolphins’ inability to perform at the level he desired cost Flores his job. That suggests a power conflict with general manager Chris Grier, who was not terminated.
Flores’ firing, regardless of the facts, came as a shock after seasons in which he went 10-6 and 9-8. Miami looked like they were on the upswing. Then Grier, in my opinion, nipped a promising coach’s career. Flores shouldn’t stay unemployed for long. Any team with an opening should consider him as a top candidate. Flores kept the locker room and team mentality at an all-time high. Flores never lost the locker room or any players to warrant this firing at all. This comes from the owner not seeing results quick enough in the amount of time Flores has been there.
Roster Control Issues
Flores most likely wanted more roster control and the GM and the owner did not like that from him. Flores probably got that from Bill Belichick and wants to copy it. Grier’s decision to trade first-round drafted tackle Laremy Tunsil to Houston and first-round drafted safety Minkah Fitzpatrick to Pittsburgh during Flores’ first season further added to the challenge of the team’s return to relevancy. Grier used those selections on lineman Austin Jackson, who went inside to guard in 2021 after failing at tackle as a rookie; and defensive back Noah Igbinoghene, who hasn’t stayed true to the hype in his first two seasons. Not to mention Noah Igbinoghene was drafted when they also had Xavien Howard and signed Byron Jones in the same offseason, two premier CBs on the roster.
Grier’s worst blunder came at the most crucial position in the game: quarterback. Miami selected Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick in the 2020 draft. However, Tagovailoa struggled as a rookie and bears little resemblance to the quarterback selected immediately after him, 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert. Tagovailoa battled through various injuries before showing signs of improvement in his second season, which came after Grier’s Dolphins flirted with shipping Tagovailoa and substantial draft capital to Houston for embattled quarterback Deshaun Watson. This made matters much more difficult for both Tagovailoa and Flores.
I’m pretty sure this firing is mostly on not developing the offense and not seeing progress with Tua Tagovailoa. Remember, Tagovailoa was drafted with the 5th overall pick and we are seeing all these young and recently drafted QBs grabbing the reins and taking over the league by storm. Recently drafted Joe Burrow (drafted 2020), Justin Herbert (drafted 2020), Kyler Murray (drafted 2019), have taken that next step in the NFL. However, Tua is taking his time and not putting up these crazy seasons that we are seeing from players recently drafted. Tua is also struggling, by not reading the field well.
The first interviews reported since the firing has been offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Mike McDaniel, DC Dan Quinn, DC Vance Joseph, and Kellen Moore. Miami is prioritizing an offensive coach to jump-start Tua that Flores could not do. I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if the Dolphins go this route at Head Coach.
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