The type of season the Miami Dolphins just concluded was not for the faint of heart from a fan perspective.
After a gritty win on the road against the New England Patriots in Week 1, expectations for the franchise to build on the divisional victory were justified.
Those dreams quickly vanished, as Miami would proceed to drop seven straight games, perhaps none more humiliating than a defeat in London to the winless Jacksonville Jaguars.
However, rather than giving up, the Dolphins rallied back to win seven straight games, and actually put themselves in a position to control their own destiny for an AFC playoff spot.
The team did not take care of business in Week 17 against the Tennessee Titans, which ended their chances for a postseason berth.
It seems clear now that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was not pleased with the conclusion of the season, despite the positive momentum built up during the middle of it.
He may have viewed the 2021 campaign as a playoff or bust opportunity for the franchise, regardless of the road the team took to get there.
After three seasons, head coach Brian Flores was surprisingly relieved of his duties, which has called the direction of the franchise into question.
Brian Flores is out as the Dolphins head coach, sources tell ESPN.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 10, 2022
Unpacking The Flores Firing
There were many jobs that were expected to be vacant come “Black Monday” in the NFL, but the Dolphins job was not one of them.
This was due to the impressive resurrection the team had in November and December, albeit against inferior competition.
It wasn’t the first time that Miami showed notable resolve under Flores’ leadership.
After an abominable start to the 2019 season, where the team was thought to be “Tanking For Tua Tagovailoa”, the team continued to compete and ended up with wins.
Granted, it is not ideal for a team to dig such a deep hole for themselves—but in two of three campaigns with Flores at the helm, the team could have packed it in, but did not.
After Flores was fired, Ross talked about collaboration, and how an organization needs to be in sync in order for it to be successful.
One could reasonably take this to mean that he believed Flores left something to be desired in this area.
Stephen Ross’ Track Record
Unfortunately, Ross’ comments on this issue of organizational functionality ring a bit hollow given his history.
Since he first invested in the Dolphins in 2008, and became their managing general partner in 2009, there has been a revolving door at the head coaching position.
Tony Sparano coached three-plus seasons, followed by Joe Philbin who was the head man for the same duration.
Adam Gase followed Philbin, who lasted three seasons in South Florida, and the recently departed Flores was around for the same amount of time.
There’s something remarkably consistent about Ross’ desire to employ the leader of his franchise for three years, before inevitably making a move.
For the fan base, this pattern is also equally as troubling.
Ross speaks about the value of internal partnership, but he hasn’t been able to find someone at head coach who reaches his standard in that regard.
Does that speak more to his inability to hire the right person, or his personality that seemingly has not jibed with each coach?
The firing of Brian Flores is ridiculous at best and incompetent at worst.
Flores won 19 games over 2 years in Miami (the Dolphins haven’t done that since 03) with a QB that is hurt as often as he’s healthy. He finished the year going 8-1. This move is what bad franchises do.
— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) January 10, 2022
Regardless of the answer, or whether it lies somewhere in between, it does not bode well for the Dolphins’ long-term prospects for success.