AFC East

Why Did the Dolphins Fire Brian Flores?

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images Dolphins With the firing of Brian Flores Miami will be looking for its seventh Head Coach under owner Stephen Ross

What Flores Did Right

The good and the bad things that happened while Brian Flores was coach almost balance perfectly. His 24-25 record offers proof of that. Flores defensive background, he came from the Patriots as a linebackers coach/ defensive assistant, means much of what went right was on that side of the ball.

The Dolphins finished 32nd in yards and 30th in points allowed in Flores first season, 2019-20. They improved to 20th and 6th the following season before finishing 14th and 16th this year. After finishing -10 in turnover margin his first year, Flores’ defense led the league in turnovers forced last year with 29. The team finished +9 overall, before regressing somewhat in 2021-22 to finish +2 in turnover margin.

The defense carried Miami to consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 2002-03. Flores was also 4-2 against Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. His teams rebounded from slow starts of 0-7, 1-4, and 1-7. Clearly his steady hand helped the team finish strong all three years, and the players never lost faith in him.

What Went Wrong

Some of these issues extend far beyond the last three seasons. Since Dan Marino retired in 1999 there have been 25 different quarterbacks to start a game for the Dolphins. Tua Tagovailoa’s struggles are nothing new. Neither is the offensive lines which, despite the draft picks invested in it, at one point was ranked last in the NFL as a unit this season. Duke Johnson gave Miami’s running game a lift when he was signed for the last three games, but the Dolphins still finished 30th in yards per game rushing at 92.2. The passing game proved to be an issue despite Jaylen Waddle breaking the rookie record for receptions. Tight End Mike Gesicki gained Tua’s confidence and had a solid year as well with 73 receptions for 780 yards. Despite their efforts Miami finished 19th in passing offense this season.

Flores Behind the Scenes

Away from the field is where Stephen Ross really gets involved in Flores being let go as head coach. Ross wanted to draft Tua. Flores wanted Justin Herbert. Jacoby started against the Baltimore Ravens, despite the fact Tagovailoa was healthy. He came in and rallied the team to a 22-10 win, snapping its seven game losing streak. That would spur a seven game winning streak that put the team back in the playoff race. The 34-3 loss against the Tennessee Titans in week 17 eliminated the team from the playoffs.

Its not just the quarterback that was an issue, assistant coaches were as well. Flores went through three defensive coordinators in his three seasons as coach. If you count the co-offensive coordinators this year there were four in his tenure. Three of those were in Tua’s two years with the team. More than a little tension caused that much staff turnover.

Ross’ Impatience Only Adds to Importance of Offseason

The next Miami Dophins head coach will be the fourteenth in team history, counting interims. Under Owner Stephen Ross there will have been seven since he took over in 2008. Joe Philbin and Tony Sporano lasted the longest, four years apiece. It is fair to ask how much Ross’ impatience leads to issues for the Dolphins. Instability often hurts an orginization. Three coaches for the Pittsburgh Steelers, a consistent playoff team and Super Bowl contender, prove that patience and stability do matter.

The importance of this offseason grows for Miami. In addition to the large amount of cap space, seventy plus million dollars, which the team must use intelligently to fill holes, Dolphins GM Chris Grier must get the coaching hire right. Ross sticking with Grier, Miami’s GM for the past seven seasons, cannot make Grier feel too comfortable, given the owner’s track record.

Rumors have swirled for a number of years that Ross wanted Jim Harbaugh as his coach. Harbaugh is reportedly being considered for the Oakland Raiders job as well. Byron Leftwich, Doug Pederson, and Josh McDaniels are other leading candidates as well. The fact that a number of offensive coordinators, McDaniels and Pederson are former head coaches as well, are being considered points the Dolphins wanting a better quarterback-head coach relationship. Whether its Tua or someone else that will go a long way towards determining the next coaches fate.

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  1. Pingback: Patriots Keys to Success Against Buffalo - Championship Sports Media

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