Dolphins' Top Options to Replace Brian Flores as Head Coach After Firing

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 10, 2022

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 31: Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh on the field before the start of the College Football Playoff Semifinal game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Michigan Wolverines at the Capital One Orange Bowl on December 31, 2021 at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL.  (Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins provided the biggest surprise of "Black Monday" in the NFL when they fired head coach Brian Flores.

Miami Dolphins @MiamiDolphins

Statement from the Miami Dolphins. <a href="https://t.co/Lh1WaAIRY9">pic.twitter.com/Lh1WaAIRY9</a>

The Dolphins haven't made the playoffs since 2016, but they posted winning records in 2020 and 2021. Although the firing of Flores raises questions about Miami's organizational stability, the franchise figures to be an attractive opening for head coaching candidates.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is perhaps the most notable option, though ESPN's Jeff Darlington reported he isn't yet a target.

Flores was an assistant coach with the New England Patriots defense before arriving in South Beach. If the organization wants another defensive-minded coach, then the Dallas Cowboys' Dan Quinn or Indianapolis Colts' Matt Eberflus will be worth monitoring.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Byron Leftwich, Buffalo Bills' Brian Daboll and Kansas City Chiefs' Eric Bieniemy are proven offensive coordinators if the Dolphins want to go in an opposite direction from Flores.

Needing to develop a young quarterback and hiring an offensive specialist don't always go hand in hand, but it would seem to make the most sense for the Dolphins.

Tua Tagovailoa threw for 2,653 yards, 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 13 appearances in his second season. While his recovery from a dislocated hip altered his rookie campaign, the southpaw hasn't progressed as Miami probably would've hoped.

In November, general manager Chris Grier offered a vote of confidence in Tagovailoa after the team looked into acquiring Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson.

Omar Kelly @OmarKelly

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Dolphins?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Dolphins</a> General Manager Chris Grier said the franchise did their due diligence on the Deshaun Watson trade and he at end of the day a deal didn’t get done, but franchise still believes in Tua Tagovailoa. <a href="https://t.co/FXI9KMq7pi">pic.twitter.com/FXI9KMq7pi</a>

But an organization that had faith in its quarterback wouldn't be reportedly prepared to trade multiple first-round picks for another QB.

Tagovailoa's improvement—or lack thereof—will be a measure by which to judge Grier. Passing on Justin Herbert (drafted one pick later) is shaping up to be a massive mistake that sets the Dolphins back years.

Michael Lombardi @mlombardiNFL

Flores is gone and the GM stays even though he picked Tua over Herbert?? Makes no sense--

Andrew Brandt @AndrewBrandt

Dolphins drafted Tua ahead of Herbert and traded the Eagles a first-round pick to move up 6 spots.<br>But the head coach is fired.

Should Tagovailoa break through in 2022, the perception around Grier will change dramatically. Bringing in Harbaugh, Leftwich, Daboll, Bieniemy or Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is perhaps the easiest way to make that happen.

Of course, an offensive guru becomes less necessary if Grier acquires an elite signal-caller such as Watson, Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers.

The outcome of this search will be pivotal in Grier's tenure because it's difficult to imagine the GM gets another shot to oversee a coaching change.