MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Back-to-back winning seasons were not enough for Brian Flores to keep his job as coach of the Miami Dolphins.
The Dolphins fired Flores on Monday, a somewhat surprising move that came less than 24 hours after the team finished a 9-8 season. Flores went 24-25 while failing to make the playoffs in his three seasons in Miami, but finishing this year with eight wins in the final nine games.
The primary issues that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross cited for the decision seemed to have little to do with the on-field product and more with communication within the team’s braintrust — though there were no specific examples offered of how the team determined Flores wasn’t the right fit in those regards.
“I’ve been looking at this over three years now and watching the organization grow,” Ross said. “I think an organization can only function if it’s collaborative and it works well together, and I don’t think we were really working well as an organization … to win consistently at the NFL level.
It wasn’t a total housecleaning: General manager Chris Grier is being retained. Grier has been with the Dolphins for 22 years, the last six seasons as GM and the last three of those overseeing all football operations.
Ross spoke highly of the work done to the roster over those three years.
“If you look at our roster, we have a very fine, I think excellent, roster of young players,” Ross said. “This was all done in the last three years. We had an old, aging roster before it that was leading us nowhere but to mediocrity. And I think if you look at our roster today, you see our salary cap, the players we have, I think we’re well-suited for the future.”
It was already shaping up to be an offseason where the Dolphins would go through what has almost become an annual tradition of sorts, that being the process where they determine if their current starting quarterback should be their starter for the future.
And that dance — to stay with Tua Tagovailoa or not — will surely still happen.
The Dolphins considered trading for embattled Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson this past fall and may do so again; Grier, in his last remarks to media in early November, said if someone viewed “as being one of the top players around the league” comes available “at any position, you look at it and try and go for it.”
“It’ll be up to the head coach in terms of what he does with the quarterback,” Ross said. “As I’ve said before, I have a lot of confidence in Tua.”
Ross is a Michigan graduate and the largest donor in that university’s history, and the Dolphins could look at Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh as one of the possible candidates to take over.
But Ross, professing his love for Harbaugh, tried to quell that possibility, saying he won’t be the person who takes the coach away from Michigan.
“I have no coach in mind at this point,” Ross said. “We’re going to do a thorough review and interview process.”
Flores was hired in February 2019 and immediately began overseeing a rebuild. Miami started 0-7 in his first season, 1-3 last season and 1-7 this season. His teams always found ways to get better as the season went along, going 20-8 in games played in November, December and January.