The mere fact that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross fired coach Brian Flores and kept GM Chris Greer becomes what lawyers call At first glance Evidence of institutional dysfunction. Smart teams take the situation where the coach and general manager fail or succeed together, with no chance of blaming one or the other. And it would likely take an entire team of lawyers to figure out why Ross pulled the plug on a coach who had hit consecutive numbers to win for the first time since 2002-03, culminating in a Patriots sweep.
So what went wrong? Here’s some informed speculation, based on everything we’ve read and heard about the franchise over the past few years.
As mentioned earlier, the fact that Ross does not live or work in South Florida opens the door to factions, gangs, and loyalties. On game days, while the coach is screwing his ass in an effort to win matches, others can whisper cute things in the owner’s ears, blaming the coach for everything that might go wrong.
In 2021, the biggest mistake made was the team’s failure to land quarterback Deshaun Watson. Despite the best efforts of Ross and his company to spin the facts now, Ross Watson wanted. Flores simply does not want a distraction.
Watson’s endless chatter has been affecting Tua Tagovailoa in a negative way. As a source explained to PFT early in the season, Tua had already turned down an opportunity to be captain for 2021, given the possibility of Watson arriving and taking over the starting assignment at any time.
The moment the trade deadline came and went, Tua started playing better and the Dolphins started winning matches. Is it a coincidence?
Ross, like many other owners, wants to make decisions without being accused of meddling. Thus, like the other owners, he never gives a direct command. He shouldn’t have to. He makes his views known, and he trusts the employees smart enough to get the hint will do so.
This year, it was Watson. Ross did not understand it. Last year, it was Tua – but only after the Bengals refused to trade Dolphins for Joe Burrow.
And this may be where Flores Ross first lost. Entering the 2019 season, Ross realized that sometimes, you have to take those. Although the tank job for the full season was initially intended as Tua, Ross switched to Burrow. However, after a few ugly losses to begin his tenure, Flores apparently gave up and challenged the tank strategy.
This prevented the dolphins from getting the best selection, which became Burrow. Where would they be now if they had got it? They are likely to be in the playoffs, and they are likely to be or close to the top seed.
On some level, this reality may have stuck in the owner’s crawl. He wanted the tank. Flores did not understand the hint, or ignored it. And the best chance of getting the franchise midfielder the team has long wanted since Dan Marino’s retirement is gone.
He threw out the organization’s failure to execute a deal for Deshaun Watson, and Ross had someone to blame. Ditch the fact that others in the organization had more open and regular access to the absentee owner who owned the team, and Flores was the one who took the fall.
Does it matter at this point? To anyone who might become the next trainer for Dolphins, it definitely should be.