A day after the Miami Dolphins suffered their worst loss under Brian Flores, there was no major organizational shake-up. Rather, the coaches mostly responsible for a 23-20 loss to the Jaguars — which was Jacksonville’s first win in their last 21 games — went about their business as usual.
Flores met with reporters late Monday afternoon after the team’s transatlantic flight home. While Miami’s third-year coach must know that this is a franchise in crisis, Flores did his best to keep an even keel.
NFL Hot Seat: Miami Dolphins announce no staff changes
Flores stood by his and his staff’s two disastrous fourth-down decisions and play calls that decided the game Sunday. First, the Dolphins chose to run out of shotgun on a failed fourth-and-1. Then, they called timeout on Jacksonville’s penultimate play, allowing Urban Meyer to change course and dial up a short pass that put the Jags in makeable field goal range.
Flores said he’s “at peace with both of those calls.” He later added, “We came out of it feeling that those were the right things to do.”
Translation: Sorry, Dolphins fans. No major changes now, and perhaps for the duration of the season. The truth is, if Flores was going to fire his coordinators, he likely would have done so by now.
What’s more, he acknowledged that co-OCs George Godsey and Eric Studesville and DC Josh Boyer — who are largely responsible for this brutal start to the season — have been his support system during this five-game skid.
Flores has also leaned on his non-football staff — head of security Drew Brooks, player development director Kaleb Thornhill, and team trainer Kyle Johnston — to determine the pulse of an underachieving locker room.
“What I’ve gotten is there’s still a lot of belief in our team,” Flores said. “I think they support each other. I think they’re a resilient group. I think they’re sticking together. They’re going to continue to stick together.”
Discord in Dolphins’ locker room
Is that true? Or is it wishful thinking? We’ve heard that there are plenty of players in the Dolphins organization who no longer want to be there. And perhaps some of them will soon be gone with the trade deadline in two weeks. If the Dolphins bottom out — assuming there’s somehow further to fall — against the Falcons this week and Bills next, they should unload whoever they can. There’s no one on this team untradeable. And cap space saved this year is cap space earned in future years.
Of course, we have no clue who will be spending that money in 2022. General manager Chris Grier can’t feel great about his job security. But based on what the Dolphins have put on the field this year, no one should.
Owner Stephen Ross has fired coaches and GMs for less. And he was only half kidding when he put Flores and Grier on notice at the grand opening of the team’s new practice facility prior to the season.
“I hope we are hoisting the Super Bowl [trophy] in a very short time, with the emphasis on short,” Ross said in July. “If you can’t win with a facility like this, then you never will.”
Flores acknowledged that he and Ross have spoken about the team’s skid.
“Obviously he’s disappointed,” Flores said. “I don’t want to speak for him, but I know that. He wants to see our team have success. That’s really everybody. He’s no different than players, coaches, the support staff, the fans. We’ve got to be better. I’ll be the first to say that. Our players are disappointed as well.
“We all know this: There’s a very small margin for error in this league,” Flores added. “The mistakes we’ve made, they’ve cost us. We have to try to limit those mistakes as players and coaches. There’s a slim, slim margin for error. We’re on the wrong side of that right now. … I think collectively, Steve, Tom [Garfinkel, team CEO], Chris, Brandon [Shore, a high-ranking team executive], the entire organization, there’s disappointment. They want better.”
Is Brian Flores the next coach to get fired?
Sunday’s loss did more than further jeopardize Flores’ employment status. It also, at least for a week, gave Urban Meyer a reprieve. The first-year Jaguars coach has already outlasted one of his peers. Jon Gruden was the first coach to get fired in 2021, but that had nothing to do with the team’s performance and everything to do with his racist, sexist, and homophobic emails.
But Meyer, who won for the first time Sunday after five losses to start the season, is still in real danger of being one-and-done in Jacksonville. Giants coach Joe Judge is also at serious risk of losing his job. Minnesota’s Mike Zimmer and Chicago’s Matt Nagy shouldn’t feel too comfortable either. And theoretically, if the Jets and Lions completely tank the season, perhaps rookie coaches Robert Saleh and Dan Campbell could be at risk. But as of now, Meyer, Flores, and Judge seem to have the hottest seats.