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#pounditSunday, January 29, 2023

Was Dolphins owner upset with Brian Flores for not tanking?

Brian Flores at a press conference

The Miami Dolphins surprised the football world by firing Brian Flores on Monday even though the head coach had posted consecutive winning seasons — the first time that happened for the Dolphins since 2002-2003.

Reports since Flores’ firing have ranged from saying the Dolphins have an upgrade lined up, to reports saying Flores lost a power struggle with the team’s general manager.

But here’s another rumor to emerge regarding the firing, and it’s one that will knock your socks off.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio published a story on Tuesday in which he discussed some of the dynamics of the Flores firing.

The overarching idea is that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross didn’t get the quarterback he wanted two seasons in a row. Florio reports that Ross wanted Deshaun Watson this season, but a trade fell through. Florio claims that Ross wanted Joe Burrow in 2020, but the Dolphins didn’t finish with a bad enough record to get the No. 1 draft pick. And that’s where the tanking talk comes in.

According to Florio’s story, Ross wanted the Dolphins to have the No. 1 draft pick in 2020. The Dolphins went 5-11 in 2019 — Flores’ first season with the team — and ended up with the No. 5 pick, which they used on Tua Tagovailoa. Burrow went No. 1 overall in 2020 and already is a star. Tua was recovering from a hip injury and has had mixed results as a pro.

The story alleges that Flores either didn’t get the hint that Ross wanted to tank or defied instructions to tank in 2019. Flores’ Dolphins went 3-2 over their final five games to finish 5-11 in 2019.

The story is so crazy it’s really hard to believe. An owner got upset with the coach for … winning? But let’s remember, this matches up with everything we saw leading up to the 2019 NFL season.

As early as Jan. 2019, a report said the Dolphins were tanking. The competition committee even was set to look into the team for losing so badly.

Flores’ Dolphins were embarrassed so badly in their first three games, losing by a combined 133-16, that Flores couldn’t keep losing like that. He probably would have been fired and had his reputation permanently stained if that continued.

Instead, he finished out the season strong, then went an impressive 10-6 last season, and 9-8 this season. Flores is now viewed as a good head coach.

If the Dolphins indeed chose longtime GM Chris Grier over Flores, then that’s their mistake. Even if they didn’t get Burrow, they were in position to draft Justin Herbert in 2020, whom the Chargers selected with the pick after Miami took Tagovailoa.

The Dolphins could have had an excellent young franchise quarterback while also getting a head coach who finished strong and won games. It’s truly amazing that the Dolphins fired the guy who was their best coach in 20 years to keep the GM who took Tua over Herbert.

Ross better have a bigger move up his sleeve to justify the firing, otherwise the move makes little sense.


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