Heading into week 11 of the 2020-2021 NFL Season, the Miami Dolphins sit at 6-4, right in the midst of the jam packed AFC playoff picture— there is no one else except head coach Brian Flores who could have taken charge like that. Coach Flores is one of the main reasons for the Dolphins success this season.
Hired last year on February 4th 2019, Flores replaced former head coach Adam Gase. Last season, the Dolphins had arguably one of the worst rosters in NFL history. The Dolphins began the season starting 0-7, losing their first two games by a combined 92 points before picking up their first win against the New York Jets in week 9.
Throughout the season’s beginning stretch many people thought the Dolphins were intentionally losing games otherwise known as “tanking”. From there the phrase “Tank for Tua” was coined. However this perception was false. The team was not tanking— instead, Brian Flores was trying to instill a new identity and culture within the team and he succeeded. The Dolphins ended the season with a record of 5-11, winning 5 of their last 9 games. During these 9 games the Dolphins beat two playoff teams, including a huge upset of the then defending Super Bowl champions in the New England Patriots on the road.
The start to building a new identity for the Miami Dolphins is on the right track with Flores as head coach.
Last offseason the Dolphins spent a flurry of money in free agency, signing Byron Jones and Kyle Van Noy among others. In addition they also drafted Tua Tagovailoa, who they selected with the fifth overall pick. These new additions offered new faces and a better look on paper, but it was yet to be proven on the field. Many fans hoped that with this new formation, the Dolphins could win more than 5 games.
The Dolphins began the 2020-2021 campaign starting 1-3, dropping 2 games against divisional opponents, the Patriots and Bills. Since week 4, the Miami Dolphins won 5 games straight before losing to the Broncos on the road. The Dolphins destroyed the 49ers, shut out the Jets, and beat the Rams, Cardinals and Chargers.
Throughout that stretch, Brian Flores outcoached all opposing coaches, including Sean McVay and Kyle Shannahan, two coaches with previous Super Bowl appearances. Among the Dolphins toughest challenges this year, the NFC West posed a threat, however the Dolphins went 3-1 against that division, with their only loss coming to the Seahawks by 8.
Another reason for the Dolphins success this season is their defense. Flores was a defensive coach with New England before joining Miami, and played a huge role for the Patriots stellar defensive performance in their Super Bowl win against the Rams in 2019. Since week 4 the Dolphins defense has proven to be one of the leagues best— totaling 13 sacks, 4 interceptions, and 5 forced fumbles. The Dolphins also have the league’s longest active takeaway streak at 16 games with at least one forced turnover. Having a dominant defense is a major piece for winning, after all the phrase goes as “defense wins championships”.
The Miami Dolphins now have a new identity. Brian Flores has turned this team into one of the most disciplined teams in the league, a team that puts forth their max effort week in and week out.
Other coaches like Mike Tomlin, Kevin Stefanski, and John Gruden undeniably deserve respect and praise for their team’s success in this season, but without a doubt Flores has shaped the Dolphins into a new being. His commitment has helped the team overcome obstacles and walls, and because of this he should definitely be considered for this year’s Coach Of The Year award. The Dolphins are currently 6-4 vying for one of the AFC’s 7 playoff spots.
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