Asked on Sunday about the Miami Dolphins apparently tanking the 2019 season in order to better position themselves in the 2020 NFL Draft, head coach Brian Flores told the assembled media, “Screw it. We are going to go out there and lose every single game. I know I was brought here to win football games, but we are not looking to do that this year, and I am going to do everything in my power to make sure these players know that I want losses. I want them tearing up their bodies on every play, but they better not win because we need those early picks.”
The media was stunned and immediately up in arms. How can a coach come in to a team and immediately try to lose? Is he going to purposely call bad plays? Will he try to make three-and-out the standard goal for each possession? The Dolphins clearly made a mistake hiring a head coach who does not love winning. They made a mistake and they are going to have to fix it.
Oh, wait. That is not what happened on Sunday. Flores, facing the media after Miami traded away left tackle Laremy Tunsil, wide receiver Kenny Stills, and linebacker Kiko Alonso over the weekend. Flores, when asked about tanking, replied, “This game means a lot to me. I wouldn’t disrespect the game with that. Again, no we’re not (tanking). We’re going to try to win every game. I think that’s disrespectful to even say that. These guys have worked extremely hard. They’ve done that all summer, they do it all spring, and they’ll continue to do so. It’s disheartening to hear people talk about it, to even say that. For a guy who respects the game and for as much as the game has done for me, when people say that – you shouldn’t say it.”
The indignation. The gall. The arrogance. How can Flores dare try to tell the media that he is going to do his job?
But, coach, you got rid of all your talented players. How can you possibly compete with these players? “We’re going to come to work every day,” Flores said. “We’re going to coach this group to the best of our ability. We’re going to come out, we’re going to work hard and we’re going to fight. We’re going to play hard and try to win every game. I think that’s what you do. That’s kind of how I’ve been brought up. This team is motivated. I think we’ve got some talented players and we’re just going to try to go out here and try to win every game.”
Fake general manager Armando Salguero, who uses that title in many of his articles as he tries to explain what he would do to make the Dolphins better, apparently does not like what real head coach Flores has said.
No, the players aren’t giving up. No, coaches aren’t blowing off practices. But the roster has been decimated of talent in such a way that success will be practically impossible. The Dolphins have weakened themselves on purpose.
And that is tanking.
Miami just traded away arguably their two most accomplished and durable offensive players in exchange for 2020 and 2021 draft picks. And however wonderful you feel about those future picks, you must know it means the Dolphins are not as good today as they were before the trade.
This trade ensures short-term pain in exchange for possible long-term gain.
The entire Earth is aware of this
But Brian Flores doesn’t see it that way. In fact, he’s gotten somewhat indignant at the mere mention of the topic the last two times it’s come up -- once at the NFL annual meeting in March and once on Sunday.
Just say you are tanking coach! Tell us you are losing on purpose this year! The entire Earth knows it coach, so why will you just not say so? I demand you tell me you are losing!
And then I can roast you for saying you are losing. I can condemn you for not trying to win.
Oh. Salguero is not done calling out Flores for saying he is trying to win.
So, please, don’t show me a random rock and tell me it’s a diamond.
Now, it can be argued Flores has to say and do these things. He has to challenge players in front of reporters. He has to confuse everyone with the handling of the QB competition. He has to deny the truth about tanking for league or locker room consumption.
The players in Miami’s locker room see what has transpired since March. So does the NFL. They’ve seen QB competition fits and starts. They listened when Flores had to clarify to them what he was thinking about Stills. And those guys working “extremely hard” see the team sending talent hurtling out of their locker room just days before the season opener.
C’mon, coach. No one is fooled.
No one is trying to fool anyone.
The Dolphins are getting younger. Yes, they traded away Tunsil, who is just entering his prime at a position of need all across the league. Yes, they have bled off veteran talent this year. But, they are not going to go out on the field to intentionally attempt to lose.
This team may not win a lot this year. Maybe they will surprise everyone and win games people do not see them winning. But, to be indignant about the indignation you perceive from a coach not agreeing that he is purposely trying to lose games, that sounds more like you feel the coach owes you something more than he owes the team and his player.
If your boss comes out and says you need to work hard, but the company is purposely going to aim for loss this year, or bankruptcy, or lower circulation, or whatever the case, are you going to really work hard? Are you going to care about the job? Your coworkers? Anything?
So, maybe everyone on Earth does see the Dolphins as a team that cannot possibly compete this year. But, in that locker room, the players and coaches are going to go out each week and they are going to try to win. They are going to compete. And, that is why the head coach is not going to say they are tanking. That is why he is going to be indignant when it is suggested. That is why he is the head coach.
“It’s always important to win,” Flores explained. “I’ve always believed that. I think to take any other approach, that’s just not how you coach the game. That’s not how you play the game. To take any other approach is disrespectful to the game, so it’s very important.”
When he comes out and says they are trying to lose, that is when there is a problem, not when he says they are trying to win. When he comes out and says they are trying to lose, that is when the fans, the players, the front office, the league, and the media will have an issue with the coach.
Right now, we all know what is happening. We all know this is a team that is trying to stop the perpetual mediocrity they have been in this century. We all know this is a team positioning itself for 2020. We all know this is a team that is looking to youth to build a foundation. And we all know this is a team that may not win a lot of games in 2019.
But that does not mean the coach owes it to anyone to come out and say they are tanking. No matter how frustrated that makes the media.