With two years under his belt, Brian Flores enters this season clearly as the man in charge of this team.
Season One was a wash, as no one knows what was going on with the tanking, and the Fitzpatrick/Rosen situation, etc. GM Chris Grier seemed to be involved just as much as flores. Flores played to win with a very limited cast, and he did so five times. I think that was amazing, as 4 of those 5 wins were against decent teams. Flores gets credit for having his men prepared and passionate to win.
I remember when he was hired, and I raised a lot of question marks about him. Did Ross just hire another ANOTHER failed Belichick disciple who works great under Bill B., but fail on their own? Just ask Matt Patricia or Bill O’Brien. Did Ross give Flores too much power in enabling him to hire his buddies as coordinators? Making defensive play calls is one thing…but how will Flores handle ALL the decisions from now on…what to do on 4th down, when to challenge, making offensive decisions, how to handle two-minute drives in close games when you need to make instant decisions yourself and not defer to Bill Belichick any more?
These are the things I brought up, and it seemed that Flores handled them all well. I cannot recall huge strategic blunders that cost us any games in the last two years. There was no Philbin Kodak Moment nor Adam Gase calling for 5-WR go-routes when we should be taking a knee.
Season Two showed a lot of improvement. The players themselves were better, and that helped. But Flores himself grew and learned, and it showed. I give him huge credit for making the hardest decision a head coach has to make…and that is benching your quarterback mid-game.
We won the Raider game because Flores had the guts to bench Tua and get the spark we needed from Fitzpatrick. However, with the good comes the bad. In the Bronco game, Flores also benched Tua for Fitz, but in that case, Flores waited too long. Denver was already too far ahead, and he allowed Tua to go 3-and-out on a few drives too many. When Fitz came in, he immediately led us to a score. He then threw an interception. Yes, that ended badly. But if Fitz had 2 or 3 more series against that crappy Denver D, I see Dolphin points. Instead, Flores was gun-shy and let Tua play too long. We ended up losing by 7. To me, if Fitz had 2 or 3 extra drives, at least one of those would have led to a TD.
How important was that? We missed the playoffs by one game. Flores sat back and watched young Tua struggle and suffer way too long in that one game, and it cost us the playoffs. That’s bad coaching. But the outstanding part is that Flores learned. He learned from his mistake, and he corrected himself in the Raider game.
The frustrating part of Adam Gase was not his bad play calling nor his awful coaching. Everyone makes bad calls at times. No, with Gase, the most frustrating part was he never learned from his mistakes. Flores not only learned, but he corrected his mistakes.
In his first year, Flores played a few games like Madden 2021. Too many fake field goals and going for 2-point conversions and things like that. In his second season, the maturity was there. He coached smarter, and it showed. The number of wins doubled from 5 to 10.
If not for Covid, I am convinced the Dolphins would have made the playoffs. In Week 17, the Bills led 28-6 at the half, and I understand that’s a lot. But two factors came into play. One is that Tua was struggling badly, and Flores would have certainly put Fitz in the game if he weren’t out with Covid. Flores had benched Tua twice before, and common sense tells us that Flores would have done so a third time. Could even Fitz erase a 22-point deficit? Yes. Yes! I say that because after halftime, the Bills put in their scrubs and third stringers. They had nothing to play for anyway and decided to rest their starters. I like Fitz’s chances against third stringers.
So we now enter the off-season of year 3. We’re excited about the draft and existed to see if Tua blossoms. I’d love to have Fitzpatrick back. I’d love to get some incredible players in the draft. I’d love a new free agent or two to replace some of our mediocre guys. The next few months will answer many of those questions., and I can’t wait for the draft!