If the Dolphins Aren't Getting Jim Harbaugh, Why Did They Fire Brian Flores?

Jim Harbaugh
Jim Harbaugh / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

This Monday marked the first day after the end of the NFL regular season which means heads rolled around the league. Owners are firing their employees with reckless abandon, and most dismissals are not terribly surprising; the writing has been on the wall for people like Matt Nagy in Chicago or Mike Zimmer in Minnesota.

Every year, though, a surprise firing happens that reverberates throughout the football world. This season, it was the Miami Dolphins firing Brian Flores. The move was announced early Monday and shocked just about everybody. Perhaps even more shocking was that the Dolphins kept GM Chris Grier aboard while sending Flores on his way.

Halfway through the year, Flores' firing seemed inevitable as the Dolphins sat at 1-7 after a seven-game losing streak. But then Flores' team ripped off a seven-game winning streak and, while they missed the playoffs, still managed to win eight of their last nine and swept the Patriots, which is nearly as good as a playoff berth for AFC East teams. It is very hard to win that many games in a row so everyone figured Flores would get one more year, especially considering the inconsistency at quarterback he's had to deal with.

And if he was gone, the general consensus was that Grier would be gone, too, considering he is the guy who picked Tua Tagovailoa over Justin Herbert and whose overall hit rate on high draft picks has been fairly poor outside of Jaylen Waddle.

That, of course, was not the case. Owner Stephen Ross released a statement in the wake of the news that seemed to suggest there was some level of dysfunction, or at least disagreement, between Flores and Grier.

There is surely a lot more to this story we'll learn soon. But the immediate reaction to the Flores firing was that the Dolphins must have another hire lined up if they're so willingly canning a guy considered to be a quality head coach. Most minds wandered to Jim Harbaugh, who has been at the center of the rumor mill recently as an exodus from Michigan back to the professional ranks has grown more likely with each passing day. Ross is a Michigan guy and would presumably give Harbaugh whatever he wanted to come coach. Teams don't just fire a coach like Flores without a backup plan in place, so it had to be Harbaugh. Right?


Whether or not hiring Harbaugh is a smart decision is besides the point. If he wasn't Miami's target, who is, exactly? Did they really fire Flores because he lost a power struggle with Grier and will now try to replace one of the few coaches who has Bill Belichick's number and, from all reports, is beloved by all his players? It appears that way.

Maybe Ross and the Dolphins have a plan that they have yet to reveal. Maybe. Or, maybe, this is just a bad team doing things a bad team would do-- firing a somewhat successful coach out of a misguided belief that they can do better immediately if only they had the right person on the sideline. That is not how the NFL works. There are a lot of other problems with the Dolphins that need to be addressed before any dreams of getting over .500 can be realized. The coaching was not one of them. Now it is.

Poorly-run organizations make decisions and figure out how to deal with the consequences afterwards. Miami has time to prove they aren't doing just that, but from where we're all sitting right now, it sure seems like the Dolphins are just doing what a bad organization would do.