It's rare that an NFL coach firing comes completely out of the blue, but the Miami Dolphins made a surprising move Monday morning.
Brian Flores, who won 10 games last season and rallied the Dolphins from a 1-7 start in his third season to get them into playoff contention, was fired by the team. The Dolphins announced it on Monday.
Statement from the Miami Dolphins. pic.twitter.com/Lh1WaAIRY9
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) January 10, 2022
Although Flores was lauded for the work he did for most of his three seasons the Dolphins decided to move on. There will be a lot of speculation about what comes next, especially with owner Stephen Ross' ties to the University of Michigan.
Ross is a major donor to Michigan, and there have been reports that Jim Harbaugh is interested in coming back to the NFL. It will be easy for people make the connection. Jeff Darlington of ESPN said the Dolphins are not targeting Harbaugh. That won't stop people from wondering.
Flores' first season ended with a 5-11 record, but it's not like he had a great roster to work with. Miami went 10-6 in his second season, missing a chance to make the playoffs when it lost in the season finale. Flores' third season started poorly, but the Dolphins went from 1-7 to 8-7. They were the first team to have a seven-game winning streak and a seven-game losing streak in the same season. While you can't take Flores off the hook for the bad start, rallying the team once it started to get healthy was impressive. The Dolphins were eliminated from the playoffs with a loss in Week 17, but finished the season strong by beating the Patriots 33-24 on Sunday when New England still was alive in the AFC East race.
Flores made a statement to ESPN thanking the Dolphins for the opportunity.
A statement from Brian Flores provided to ESPN: pic.twitter.com/CFRUEQGo3r
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 10, 2022
Flores probably deserved better. He was one of the rare Bill Belichick assistants who seemed to be on the right path as a head coach. Whatever Ross was referring to with the "key dynamics" of the Dolphins not functioning at the level he wanted, it cost Flores his job. That seems to indicate there was a power struggle with general manager Chris Grier, who was not fired.
Firing Flores could also change the Dolphins' trade interest in Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, according to Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson.
The #Dolphins firing Brian Flores likely resets the Deshaun Watson landscape pretty significantly. Flores was very much a driving force behind that interest & the tandem of Flores/Grier was a part of what made Watson willing to waive his no trade to Miami. Everything has changed.
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) January 10, 2022
No matter the circumstances, firing Flores was a surprise after 10-6 and 9-8 seasons. It's not like the bar had been all that high for the Dolphins. Flores shouldn't be without a job for long. He should be a top candidate for any team with an opening.
Flores is out with the Dolphins. Let the Harbaugh speculation begin.