The Chicago Bears are moving at a fast and furious pace when it comes to lining up their potential head-coaching candidates. But at least their early lists includes, for my money, the best available candidate, Brian Flores.
On Monday, the Miami Dolphins dismissed Flores after he led the Miami Dolphins to a 9-8 record and a near-playoff berth.
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross appears to have made a terrible mistake choosing his general manager Chris Grier over the now-departed Brian Flores. Mike Florio’s latest column at Pro Football Talk paints Ross as an absentee owner who doesn’t have a vibe for what’s going on with his franchise, a flaw that has allowed a power struggle between Grier and Flores to take place.
Stephen Ross said: “An organization can only function if it’s collaborative and works well together.” And, essentially, he blamed Flores and his lack of a working relationship with the front office for the firing on Monday in their statement.
Is there more to the power struggle between Grier and Flores in Miami? There’s no doubt that there’s more to this story, and there’s no doubt that it will come out in time. A Bill Belichick disciple had trouble being a yes-man in Miami. Does that surprise anyone? Flores is a fiery agitator whose coaching style can sometimes rub people the wrong way. There’s no doubt about that. But he’s got passion and fire, and he’s going to have his team’s back. Remember when he wanted to fight the entire Bengals sideline last year because of some cheap shots the Bengals were taking on Dolphins players?
— Future MVP Joe Burrow (@FauxJeaux) December 6, 2020
After watching nice guys Matt Nagy, John Fox, and Marc Trestman walk the sidelines at Soldier Field for the last nine seasons, I’m ready for some fire. This organization has become a punchline. A charter franchise of the NFL looked down upon as some sort of circus act by the rest of the football world for the perpetual dysfunction for which they’ve become known.
Brian Flores departs Miami with a 24-25 record in three seasons, just one game under .500, primarily because he inherited a disaster of a roster in 2019 after he replaced Adam Gase. Even with the worst roster in the NFL in his first season as the head coach, Flores took the Dolphins from a team that had the doors blown off by Baltimore in the season opener (the Ravens beat them by 41 points) to a team that won five of their last nine games despite the glaring void of talent.
In his second season with Miami, Flores led the Dolphins, with a quarterback timeshare featuring Ryan Fitzpatrick and rookie Tua Tagovailoa, to a 10-6 record, good for second place in the AFC East. Flores’ Dolphins owned the NFL’s sixth-ranked scoring defense (21.1 opponents points per game), and the offense wasn’t far behind (15th, 25.3 points per game).
After a seven-game losing streak that dug the Dolphins into a 1-7 hole this season, a start that would typically spell doom for a team and cause players to mail it in, Flores’ Dolphins rattled off seven wins in a row and won eight of their final nine games to finish 9-8, just missing out on a playoff berth.
Yeah, please give me that all day long. Forget “Be You.” Let’s embrace “Be Winners.”
Brian Flores isn’t a perfect coach. There was a rift between him and the Miami front office. He wasn’t every player’s favorite coach. Minkah Fitzpatrick was not a fan of Flores to the extent that he requested a trade in 2019 during Flores’s first season in Miami. So, this isn’t to say that his level of fire and his approach is for everyone, but it’s clear by the results on the field that it’s for most of the players that Flores inherited when he arrived in South Beach. It’s also evident in their reactions to the news of the firing:
Reaction to Brian Flores' firing is starting to roll in from Dolphins players. pic.twitter.com/F0jTfciDzb
— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) January 10, 2022
The Dolphins got it wrong with Tua, and that’s why the relationships that mattered soured in South Beach. Ironically, if Flores got his way in the 2020 NFL Draft, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Flores reportedly preferred Justin Herbert to Tua coming out of the draft, but Dolphins owner Stephen Ross had no interest in Herbert.
Meanwhile, the Bears understandably believe they got the quarterback situation right with their pick of Justin Fields last spring. And Flores seemed to agree after watching Fields up close for a week during training camp: “If he continues to work the way I saw him work this week, I think he’ll be just fine… He has a bright future if he keeps working.”
Might Justin Fields be the perfect do-over for Flores when it came to the Dolphins’ mistake two years ago? Flores’s plan to develop Justin Fields will be a significant consideration for the Bears. Whom Flores plans on hiring to be the offensive coordinator will be another one, and I’m sure that the Bears will want to know why Flores went through three offensive coordinators during his time in Miami.
A thread on Brian Flores, and why I think he’s the most intriguing name this cycle.
To preface, forget Flores’ overall record. Yes he’s 24-25 but his first season 5-11 might have been his most impressive. That was an ALL TIME bad roster; a tank roster. And they fought.
— DaBearsBlog (@dabearsblog) January 12, 2022
For me, the bottom line is pretty simple: Brian Flores is a coach who knows how to win and a coach who knows how to get the most out of his players. If he can satisfy the Bears’ potential concerns over some of the issues in Miami, they’d be wise to make sure he doesn’t leave the building.
The Dolphins’ dismissal of Flores is a stroke of luck that the Chicago Bears should take advantage of. The best head coach available just became available in the last 48 hours, and you better bet that he won’t be available for long. During Monday’s hour-long disaster of a press conference at Halas Hall, George McCaskey said that the Bears would consider hiring a head coach before hiring a general manager if the head coaching candidate necessitated performing the hirings in that order.
George McCaskey also said that the Bears will “be looking for leaders in both the general manager and head coach.” McCaskey went on to mention a part of Bill Polian’s book in which he emphasizes the correlation between great teams and great coaches whom players respect above all else:
“Great teams have coaches that the players respect. You don’t have to like him, you don’t have to love him, but they respect him,” McCaskey said. “The primary quality that we will be looking for in both the general manager and head coach is leadership.”
Brian Flores checks that box pretty well. Not everyone is going to love him, some might not even like him, but they’ll respect him, and his track record indicates that he will lead his team to success.