MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Brian Flores is out as Miami Dolphins head coach after three years, the team announced Monday morning, shocking fans and players hours after the team completed a second straight winning season.
Miami won eight of its last nine games to finish 9-8 after Sunday’s victory over the New England Patriots. Despite that, a 1-7 start left the Dolphins short of the playoffs for the fifth straight year.
“I made a decision today to part ways with Brian Flores,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said. “After evaluating where we are as an organization and what we need going forward to improve, I determined that 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.”
Chris Grier will be retained as the Dolphins’ general manager, with Ross praising the work he has done to put “a talented young roster in place.” 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.
“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.”
Ross said the upcoming decision on the team’s future at quarterback did not drive Flores’ dismissal, and he suggested that would be a decision for the next coach.
Stephen Ross says the QB situation had nothing to do with Flores being fired. Says he has confidence in Tua (but also leaves the door open for the next coach to make a decision) pic.twitter.com/zrkCybDJsw— Clay Ferraro (@ClayWPLG) January 10, 2022
Speaking at a Monday news conference held on Zoom, Ross also said he doesn’t have a next coach in mind as he makes the decision to change leadership.
Ross graduated from the University of Michigan and is the largest donor in that school’s history, which makes Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh a name instantly connected to the opening. But Ross said he has no plans to pursue Harbaugh again.
“I’m not going to be the person who takes Jim Harbaugh from the University of Michigan,” he said.
Ross “I’m not going to be the person who takes Jim Harbaugh from the University of Michigan” pic.twitter.com/iNvDpkCUGb— Clay Ferraro (@ClayWPLG) January 10, 2022
Flores, 40, was 24-25 in his three years as Dolphins head coach. He was hired as the 13th head coach in franchise history in February 2019 after several years as an assistant with the Patriots.
After Sunday’s win capped a season sweep of rival New England for the first time since 2000, Flores said he was proud of the team’s turnaround following seven consecutive losses.
“The credit goes to the players, coaches,” he said. “I am always going to feel like and wish I could have done more. And our guys did work hard, from the players and coaches, obviously our support staff. It’s a special group. I’m happy, I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Flores’ firing a day later jolted many fans and even players like cornerback Nik Needham, who wrote “I’m sick” on social media with a crying emoji.
Im Sick Af 😭— Nik Needham (@FOETYY) January 10, 2022
“I was definitely surprised,” linebacker Jerome Baker told reporters later Monday afternoon. “I woke up and my phone just kept ringing and kept ringing, and that’s when I found out. I was definitely surprised.
“We all trust and believe in ‘Flo.’ He’s a great coach, a great guy and we definitely trusted him.”
Flores released a statement Monday to ESPN that said in part: “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.”
The Dolphins haven’t won a playoff game since December 2000 when Dave Wannstedt was their head coach. Since then, the team has cycled through Jim Bates, Nick Saban, Cam Cameron, Tony Sparano, Todd Bowles, Joe Philbin, Dan Campbell, Adam Gase and now Flores.
The day after the NFL’s regular season ends is commonly referred to as Black Monday, as some struggling teams announce the firing of their coaches to go in a different direction.
The Minnesota Vikings’ Mike Zimmer and Chicago Bears’ Matt Nagy were also fired Monday morning. The Denver Broncos fired Vic Fangio on Sunday after his team finished its season Saturday.
The Jacksonville Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders will also be looking for new coaches after the in-season firing of Urban Meyer and the resignation of John Gruden.