Brian Flores is shockingly out as the Miami Dolphins head coach.
ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the Dolphins fired Flores on Monday, a day after completing a 9-8 season. Flores went 24-25 in three seasons in Miami.
Flores later issued a statement on the end of his tenure in Miami, via Field Yates of ESPN:
The Dolphins began the season 1-7, leading to speculation about Flores' job status, but they closed with eight wins in their last nine games for a second straight campaign above .500.
It's hard to find a football-related justification for Flores' departure. He arrived in Miami at a time the front office had gutted the roster to its bare necessities—remember Tank for Tua?—and exceeded expectations every step of the way. The Dolphins went a surprising 5-11 in 2019 with arguably the worst roster in the NFL and then continued building a solid, young foundation in 2020 with a 10-6 campaign.
It seems Flores' departure was more related to his relationships behind the scenes rather than the on-field product.
Jeff Darlington of ESPN reported there was tension between Flores and general manager Chris Grier, and the coach's lack of public backing of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa apparently led to some strain, with Darlington noting their relationship had "deteriorated."
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network said the strain between Grier and Flores had been percolating for weeks. Grier is expected to remain as general manager next season.
The departure of Flores may complicate the Dolphins' long-rumored pursuit of Deshaun Watson, who is expected to be traded this offseason.
Watson's desire to play for Flores was no secret, and Rapoport noted his firing may wind up creating an opportunity for teams to swoop in. Watson missed the entire 2021 season after there were 22 civil lawsuits filed against him by women alleging sexual assault or misconduct. He is set to be deposed in February at the earliest.
Flores isn't expected to be out of a job for long, with ESPN's Adam Schefter reporting he'll be a "prime candidate" for vacancies.
The Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings all have coaching vacancies. The Las Vegas Raiders are expected to decide interim coach Rich Bisaccia's fate after the postseason.