My name is Marek Brave. This August marks eighteen years for me in the professional wrestling business, with the last seven of those years as the head coach of the Black and Brave Wrestling Academy alongside Seth Rollins of WWE. Our school is one of the most respected and sought after training facilities for professional wrestling in the entire world, with students coming from all corners of this planet to our home-base in Davenport, IA to learn the art of wrestling. To graduate from our program, guys and girls commit to countless hours of hard work in the ring in addition to our weight training gym - going through repetition after repetition, sweating literal buckets of sweat, breaking bones, tearing ligaments and even leaving their blood caked into the mat - all for the opportunity to one day live out a childhood dream of performing in front of screaming, rabid, adoring fans.
So, with that being said...take it from me – one coach’s opinion of another – the Miami Dolphins got it right when they hired Brian Flores to lead this franchise.
Outside of my life as a professional wrestler, I’ve also been a die-hard Miami Dolphins fan since I turned five years old in 1991, and aside from the first few years of my fandom where I witnessed Don Shula’s last few years of gridiron glory, the Fins have had terrible luck finding a head coach who can withstand the South Florida hot-seat for more than a few seasons. Here is a comprehensive list of all of the full-time head coaches (no interim coaches) the Miami Dolphins have had in the past 30 years, Coach Flores excluded.
After Coach Shula, the list starts to get bleak. Jimmy Johnson had great success in Dallas, winning two Super Bowls with the Cowboys. In Miami, however, Johnson’s teams never won more than 10 games in his four seasons, and never found themselves with a deep playoff run, eventually losing to Jacksonville 62-7 in his final game coached, leaving a black cloud over Dan Marino’s final game as a professional.
Dave Wannstedt was next in line, and he finished his four and a half seasons as head coach of the Miami Dolphins with a 42-31 regular-season record before being fired after a 1-8 start to the 2004 season.
Nick Saban followed Wannstedt, bringing along a sterling reputation from his time with the LSU Tigers of the SEC after winning a National Championship during the 2003 season. Looking back on his time with the Dolphins is painful to most of us, so I will spare you some of the gorier details...*cough, cough* Drew Brees. Saban resigned after just two seasons, finishing his time in Miami with a 15-17 record. He would go on to coach the Alabama Crimson Tide to six national titles and counting.
Cam Cameron lasted one season, giving the Dolphins their worst finish in franchise history at 1-15.
Tony Sparano surprised in his first season as head coach, taking Miami to the playoffs, but then ultimately fizzled, finishing with a 29-32 record. Joe Philbin didn’t fare much better, compiling a record of 24-28. Adam Gase followed, and played the blame game with his fellow coaches and players, finishing his tenure as head coach of the Miami Dolphins with a 23-25 record.
As you may have noticed, after Dave Wannstedt left halfway through the 2004 season, no head coach has left Miami with a winning record. Brian Flores’ record currently sits at 15-17, with zero playoff births, but after this upcoming season, Flores’ record is likely to be weighted more heavily on the winning side of things, at least if many of the projections for our 2021 Miami Dolphins end up coming true.
Now, back to my original bold statement.
The Miami Dolphins got it right when they hired Brian Flores to lead this franchise.
Why can I be so sure of this?
The man embodies all of the characteristics a good leader should have. He’s a tough, no-nonsense kind of individual, but despite that demeanor, he is well liked by his players. He takes responsibility for how his team performs, never blaming anyone else for his team’s failures. He’s not afraid to move on quickly from mistakes, as evidenced by the short leashes some of his coordinators have had during his two seasons in Miami. Flores is also not afraid to make the tough decisions. Inserting Tua Tagovailoa into the starting lineup just one year after a devastating hip injury that left the rookie quarterback rehabbing more than practicing for the better part of 12 months was certainly not an easy decision to make. The backlash he would have faced had the move not paid off would have been immense. Even so, when Tua didn’t perform up to expectations, Coach Flores did not hesitate to pull him from games and turn the ball back over to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Once again, he did not care what the critics – and there were many – had to say about that decision. He was going to do what was best for his team. Now, going into his second season, Tua Tagovailoa has taken the necessary lumps to hopefully take the next step forward and be the successful quarterback this franchise has been starved for since Dan Marino retired over twenty years ago, all because Brian Flores had the guts to do what many head coaches wouldn’t have done.
Viewing that entire scenario from my coaching lenses, I gained a tremendous amount of respect for the leader that Brian Flores is, and I’m sure owner Stephen Ross did as well. Although some uninformed “sources” claimed Coach Flores would be on the hot seat this upcoming season, I just can’t imagine that to even be remotely true. Miami is riding a wave of momentum, which will hopefully take them all the way to the playoffs and – please, please, please – their first playoff victory in over twenty years.
From one coach to another, Brian Flores is doing one hell of a job with our Miami Dolphins, and every fan of this franchise should be happy and confident that there are even brighter days ahead in the South Florida sun. FINS UP!