Why the Miami Dolphins fired Brian Flores, and who might replace him

The Miami Dolphins have fired head coach Brian Flores. Insight into the most surprising move of Black Monday and who might replace him.

The Miami Dolphins need a head coach, yet again. They decided to fire Brian Flores Monday after a third straight year out of the playoffs — even though Flores’ team had won eight of nine down the stretch to have an outside shot at the postseason. Dolphins general manager Chris Grier will remain with the organization.

“I made a decision today to part ways with Brian Flores,” said Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. “After evaluating where we are as an organization and what we need going forward to improve, I determined that the key dynamics of our football organization weren’t functioning at a level I want it to be and felt that this decision was in the best interest of the Miami Dolphins. I believe we have a talented young roster in place and have the opportunity to be much better in 2022. I want to thank Brian for his hard work and wish him nothing but the best in his future.”

Brian Flores fired by Miami Dolphins

In a statement released on Monday morning, Flores said, “I want to thank the Miami Dolphins organization for the opportunity to be the head coach of this team for the last three seasons. It was an honor to represent the franchise and lead this group of men. I am grateful most of all for the players, coaches, and support staff who gave everything they had on a daily basis to help us win games. They deserve the credit for any success on the field, and it was the honor of a lifetime for me to go to work with them every day.

“I have always believed that leadership is really about service, and I did my best to serve the players, the staff, and the organization every day. I believe in this team and will always value the relationships my family and I made here.”

The decision to move on from Flores sent shockwaves through the NFL and set the Dolphins up for another organizational reboot. Whoever replaces Flores will be the team’s fourth non-interim head coach since 2015.

Why the Dolphins let go of Flores

In terms of wins and losses, Flores’ body of work was far from egregious. In his final two seasons, the Dolphins had winning records in consecutive years for the first time since the early 21st century.

But he was incredibly difficult to work with, and his relationships with Grier, his staff, and his players went from fraught to non-existent at times. Flores hired four offensive coordinators and four offensive line coaches in three seasons. If he were allowed to return for Year 4, he would have had a challenging time assembling a quality staff.

Additionally, Flores rode his players hard over making weight and speaking to reporters, embarrassing them in front of teammates, or even keeping them home from road trips over relatively trivial offenses.

Flores’ relationship with Tua Tagovailoa

Flores didn’t have quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s back from the first day Tua arrived on campus. He benched the first-round pick twice as a rookie and then tried for nearly six months to bring Deshaun Watson to Miami — even though Watson faced nearly two-dozen accusations of sexual misconduct.

Then in November, Flores started Jacoby Brissett over Tua against the Ravens under the pretense of health and player safety. Tua had cracked a bone in his throwing hand, and Flores used that as a pretext to play Brissett. But Tua believed he was fine to play — in fact, he looked great when he had to replace Brissett in that game due to injury. What’s more, Tagovailoa was well enough to play golf just hours after that contest ended.

Dolphins head coaching candidates

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has long been an object of Ross’ affection, but Ross shot down the idea of luring him away from Ross’ alma mater and back to the NFL Monday.

“I’m not going to be the person who takes Jim Harbaugh away from the University of Michigan,” Ross said.

Keep an eye on Jim Caldwell, the former Detroit Lions head coach who was briefly on Flores’ staff before taking a medical leave of absence. He never returned to the team.

Former Eagles coach Doug Pederson — who has Miami ties — is another familiar name to consider.

While the hottest names are currently coordinators on other teams, it’ll be interesting to see if Ross elects to hire a first-time coach for the third time. Ross said he was open to the idea on Monday.

Adam Beasley is the NFL Director for Pro Football Network. You can read all of Adam’s work here and give him a follow on Twitter @AdamHBeasley.

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