Flores’ firing was the stunner of Black Monday. But there’s a reason why such a promising coach is available.
Brian Flores was one of the hottest up-and-coming candidates in the NFL three years ago. And he still is.
Even after being surprisingly fired by the Dolphins on Monday, Flores’ stock is high. He’s only 40, he spent more than a decade learning under Bill Belichick and he made quick renovations after taking on a major fixer-upper in the Dolphins. Guys like this aren’t usually available, and Flores is one of the most coveted candidates available as a quarter of the league looks for new head coaches.
And the Bears had him in the building Friday.
Flores’ first interview was at Halas Hall, though the Texans and probably a couple other teams will join the pursuit.
That competition could strain the Bears’ desire to hire their general manager first and bring him into the process for choosing a coach. Flores is available immediately, as opposed to current coordinators coaching in the playoffs, so any team ready to make a decision would force the Bears to declare themselves in or out quickly.
That would be especially complicated in Flores’ case.
He is widely considered to have overachieved considering that the Dolphins opened his tenure by stripping their roster as much as possible to bring in future assets, so why would they send him out the door?
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said, “Key dynamics of our football organization weren’t functioning at a level I want,” and given that he retained general manager Chris Grier, it’s pretty obvious those two weren’t collaborating — to borrow the Bears’ favorite word — very well.
When pressed on how Flores managed relationships within the building, from Ross and Grier at the top to young quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Ross responded tellingly by first declining to comment on it but then adding, “different people rub people different ways.”
The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported there was an explosive confrontation between Flores and Tagovailoa at halftime in Week 17.
None of that should preclude any team from hiring Flores, but it seems imprudent to do so without a general manager already in place to have some input on how the two would work together. It’s fine for a coach to have a somewhat edgy personality, and the Bears might have a taste for that demeanor after failing with Matt Nagy’s “Friday Night Lights” style. The Bears just need to make sure it’s not so far in that direction that it leads to dysfunction.
Flores, for example, burned through four offensive coordinators and two defensive coordinators in just three seasons. He fired his first offensive line coach one week into training camp. He opted for an ill-fated setup of co-offensive coordinators last season.
But Bears chairman George McCaskey indicated someone like Flores might fit the hardnosed attitude he and advisor Bill Polian hope to find.
“They don’t have to like him, they don’t have to love him, but they respect him,” McCaskey said, referring to a principle in one of Polian’s books. “So the primary quality we’ll be looking for in both the general manager and the head coach is leadership.”
Despite his flaws, Flores turned one of the NFL’s worst defenses into a respectable unit. Unlike Nagy, he delivered in his supposed area of expertise.
The Dolphins were bottom-six in points allowed the two seasons before his arrival and dead last in his first season. He took them to sixth in 2020 and 16th last season.
“Flo is intense and he gets after you when you’re not doing your job, and that’s what a coach does,” offensive tackle Jesse Davis said. ”Some days you may not want to hear it, but most days that’s what you needed to hear. The guys in the building responded pretty well to it, or they wouldn’t have been there.”
Linebacker Jerome Baker added, “We all believed in Flo. He was a great coach. A great guy. And we definitely trusted him.”