After the Dolphins’ 33-24 victory over New England, Miami fired Brian Flores as head coach.
Flores had a 23-25 record in three seasons and was just shy of leading his teams into the playoffs.
Stephen Ross, Dolphins owner, explained that he wasn’t seeing the progress he expected of his team in 2021. The team disappointed early on before almost riding a seven-game winning streak to an unlikely postseason spot.
Stephen Ross, Dolphins owner, said that he made the decision to end his relationship with Brian Flores. The team released a statement.After analyzing where we stand as an organization and identifying what needs to be improved, I found that key dynamics in our football organization were not functioning at the level I desire. I felt this was the right decision for the Miami Dolphins. We have a young, talented roster and the potential to improve in 2022. Brian’s hard work is greatly appreciated and I wish him all the best for the future.
Monday’s news could have been more a result of a power struggle than anything. There was a palpable tension between Flores (general manager) and Chris Grier with Flores’ firing. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Ross selected his head for player personnel over the coach his team chose to lead them out of the darkness of the Adam Gase era.
Even with all the above details, it was still a surprise that Flores was fired. Flores was hired in 2019 by a Dolphins team in flux. This seemed to make it more difficult for the Dolphins to return to relevance. Grier sent first-round tackle Laremy Tusil to Houston, and Minkah Fitzpatrick from Pittsburgh in Flores’ first year. Grier ended up spending those picks on tackle Austin Jackson, who moved inside to guard in 2021 after struggling at tackle as a rookie, and defensive back Noah Igbinoghene, another high pick who hasn’t lived up to his billing in his first two seasons.
Miami then traded the second first-round pick it received from Houston (2021) to move back from third overall to sixth, spending it on productive receiver Jaylen Waddle, Grier’s best high draft pick to date.
Grier’s worst mistake was at the most important position in the game: quarterback. Miami spent the fifth overall pick of the 2020 draft on Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who struggled to get comfortable as a rookie and paled in comparison to the quarterback selected immediately after him, 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert. While Herbert turned the Chargers into a contender in 2021, Tagovailoa battled through multiple injuries before showing some signs of improvement in his second season, which came after Grier’s Dolphins spent the first half of the 2021 season flirting with shipping Tagovailoa and significant draft capital to Houston for embattled quarterback Deshaun Watson, making the going much more difficult for both Tagovailoa and Flores.
The instabilities at quarterback did not help the difficult start to the 2021 season. Miami lost seven games straight after defeating New England to begin the campaign. Tagovailoa, Flores had to answer questions about Watson’s future and Miami’s position until the deadline for trades passed. After that, Miami was free from uncertainty and won its seven remaining games to improve its record to 8-7. The Dolphins’ Week 17 loss to Tennessee was a stark reminder of the way they ended their 2020 season. It ruined their chances at making a run for the playoffs.