Dolphins’ Brian Flores’ decision-making in Week 6 loss makes his hot seat hotter

After a number of head-scratching decisions, the hot seat for Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores just got an awful lot hotter.

The storyline coming out of the second London NFL game of the 2021 season was always likely to be about one of the coaches, and Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores’ decision-making ensured it was him the NFL world was talking about. In what should have been a game that showcased two top-five NFL picks looking to make a name for themselves, it was the coaches who took center stage.

Brian Flores made several questionable decisions in the Miami Dolphins’ Week 6 loss

A game that started beautifully for the Dolphins, and saw them dominate the first half had a major sting in the tail. Poor execution cost them a bigger first-half lead before a dreadful Tua Tagovailoa interception left them staring down the barrel entering the fourth quarter. However, a strange decision from Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer, ensured the Dolphins would remain in with a chance in the fourth quarter.

Unfortunately, the fourth quarter is where things went wrong for Flores — and in spectacular style.

Two unwise challenges raised some eyebrows

With the Dolphins leading 20-17 and facing a third-and-1, Tua fired a pass into Myles Gaskin. Initially, the play was ruled a completion before the referees discussed it and called it incomplete. The Jaguars had been adamant, and it was soon clear from the replays that they had probably made the correct call. However, Flores challenged, and unsurprisingly the play was upheld.

That challenge had many Dolphins fans scratching their heads, but the feeling got worse just a matter of minutes later. After a delay of game penalty when the Dolphins tried to draw the Jaguars offside, they punted the ball back to Jacksonville. Returner Jamal Agnew made a mess of the play as the ball hopped over his head and into the end zone for a touchback.

The ball came close to touching Agnew, which would have meant Mack Hollins’ recovery in the end zone was a touchdown. Hollins celebrated as if that is exactly what had happened. However, the referees deemed that Agnew had not touched it and ruled it a touchback.

Despite numerous replays in the stadium appearing to be inconclusive, Flores threw his challenge flag. As most people in the stadium expected, the play was upheld as called on the field. The Dolphins had lost both challenges and two time-outs on consecutive snaps of the ball. Both were questionable decisions at best from Flores.

Flores’ time-out at the end of the game proved costly for the Dolphins

The end of the game could not have gone much worse for Flores. The Dolphins went for it on fourth-and-1 at their own 46. It was a risky move, but it should be applauded as an aggressive play to try and win the game in regulation. Unfortunately, it failed, giving the Jaguars the ball at the Miami 46.

The Jaguars made a mess of the ensuing drive. With 20 seconds remaining, they had a third-and-20 from their own 44. After picking up 12 yards, they called their first time-out. On fourth-and-8, with 5 seconds remaining, they lined up in a clear Hail Mary formation. That was when Flores called his final time-out.

The Jaguars then returned to the field and rolled the dice. They completed a quick slant play to Laviska Shenault Jr. for 9 yards before immediately calling a time-out. That left one second on the clock from the Miami 35. Matt Wright nailed the 53-yard field goal, ending the Jaguars’ 20-game losing streak.

Meyer and Lawrence confirmed that the Miami time-out gave them a chance to change their plan for fourth down

While initially, the plaudits went to Meyer, Lawrence, Shenault, and Wright for the brave call and the superb execution of both plays, the attention soon turned to how we reached that point. When asked whether they changed the play call during the time-out, Meyer responded in the affirmative.

“Yeah, we changed plan. We were going to do a Hail Mary or one of the Big Ben plays just a jump ball in the end zone, and I kept staring at the clock, and we practice this every week, and it’s called slider. It’s where you get the ball, and we usually say six seconds, five seconds, and we told our quarterback and Laviska, and I had the official right there and I said, as soon as he catches and goes down, time-out. He caught it, time-out, and there was still that one second left. We practice that quite a bit.”

In answering that question in that way, Meyer, seemingly unintentionally, really raised question marks around Flores’ game management. When Lawrence later reaffirmed that the time-out allowed them the chance to check into the “slider” play, the spotlight shined brightly on Flores.

Coming into the Week 6 game in London, Flores was already on a hot seat. Four big fourth-quarter decisions just made that seat even hotter. If the Dolphins were on a bye in Week 7, it is fair to wonder if we would be seeing a different head coach lead them into Week 8. The fact the Dolphins are facing the Falcons next week might be all that has saved Flores’ job — at least for now.

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