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The big shock on NFL Black Monday — the day after the final regular-season games where teams fire coaches — was the Miami Dolphins firing Brian Flores. Some speculated Flores lost a power struggle with general manager Chris Grier. Others pointed to Flores’ lack of relationship building. NFL insider Mike Florio said it boiled down the mess at the top of the franchise and compared owner Stephen Ross to Larry David’s George Steinbrenner on Seinfeld, surrounded by sycophantic George Costanza-types.

The Miami Dolphins firing Brian Flores was the shocker of Black Monday

Most of the names of fired NFL coaches that came out on Sunday and Monday weren’t a surprise. Denver’s Vic Fangio, Chicago’s Matt Nagy, and Minnesota’s Mike Zimmer were all on the chopping block.

When Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores’ name came across the ticker, though, that was a shock.

Flores came up in the New England Patriots organization. During his 15 years in Foxborough, the Brooklyn, NY native was in the scouting department, assisted on special teams and defense, and coached both safeties and linebackers.

The Dolphins hired Flores at the age of 37, and the young coach went 5-11 his first season. In year two, the team showed marked improvement. Flores’ team finished 10-6, barely missing the last AFC Wild Card spot.

The 2021 season started poorly for the Dolphins. After beating the Patriots in Week 1, the team dropped its next seven games in a row. However, Flores got the squad turned around, and Miami won the next seven games and eight of the last nine.  

The season finished 9-8 and with another postseason miss. But the hot streak down the stretch had many Dolphins fans optimistic about the future.

Then owner Stephen Ross fired Flores.

Mike Florio painted an unflattering picture of owner Stephen Ross and his organization

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio joined The Rich Eisen Show to discuss the NFL coach firings on Monday and described the power structure in the Miami Dolphins organization.

“[Stephen] Ross barnstorms in, says what he’d like to have happen, pushes for certain things, but he’s not there grinding away every single day with everyone else,” Florio said.

Rich Eisen followed up, asking if “Ross is a fly in game day, fly out guy, but then flies in, figuratively, to make such a crucial mandate as to who the quarterback is and who they’re drafting?”

Florio responded by clarifying that Ross doesn’t exactly make mandates, but his wishes are always clear:

It’s not a mandate. See, one of the privileges of being a billionaire is you never have to give orders. You don’t have to. There’s a way your preferences known. And the people who are working for you, who hope to continue working for you, will be paying attention to what the boss likes. It’s like [‘Seinfeld’ character George] Costanza and the calzone. When [the fictional George] Steinbrenner wants a calzone, Costanza’s getting him a calzone every single day until Steinbrenner decides he likes something else.

Mike Florio on Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross

Florio further characterized Flores firing as a situation where GM Chris Grier was able to shift blame for the Dolphins’ struggles onto the head coach. The analyst also notes that since Ross is an absentee owner, “it’s easier to pull that off.”

What’s next for the Miami Dolphins?

(L-R) Stephen Ross Chairman & Owner of the Miami Dolphins addresses the media as he announces Brian Flores as their new Head Coach at Baptist Health Training Facility at Nova Southern University on February 4, 2019 in Davie, Florida; George Steinbrenner as himself, Jason Alexander as George Costanza on 'Seinfeld'.
(L-R) Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, George Steinbrenner and Jason Alexander as George Costanza on Seinfeld | Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images; Photo by Alice S. Hall/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images.

Stephen Ross and Chris Grier now have to turn their attention to hiring a new head coach. However, the next on-field leader will not be the central question of the Dolphins offseason.

The Dolphins’ plan of attack this offseason will almost entirely revolve around who the starting quarterback will be in Week 1 of 2022.

Miami selected Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 draft. One pick ahead of the eventual 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Justin Herbert.

Tagovailoa’s first two seasons have been a mixed bag in the Sunshine State. He’s started 21 games his first two years, producing a 13-8 record. He’s thrown for 4,467 yards, completed 66.2% of his passes, and thrown 27 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. The 6-foot-1 native Hawaiian also has six rushing TDs.

Despite using a high draft pick on Tagovailoa, Ross and Grier actively pursued a trade with the Houston Texans for QB Deshaun Watson this season. The trade didn’t materialize before the deadline due to the uncertainty surrounding Watson’s legal issues. However, Mike Florio (among others) believes that the organization will pursue Watson (and possibly other marquee veteran QBs like Russell Wilson) this offseason.

Instead of staying the (seemingly promising) course with Brian Flores, Ross has decided to once again throw his franchise into a state of flux.

It is not dissimilar to the real-life George Steinbrenner’s actions in the bad old New York Yankee days of the 1980s and ’90s. And it sounds all too similar to Larry David’s classic ranting and raving Steinbrenner impression on Seinfeld.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference