Dear Mr. Ross,
I am so disappointed this morning with the news of the Flores firing.
I am 59 years old; was born in Pahokee and grew up exactly where Hard Rock is today. My first Fins game was at the Orange Bowl vs. the Baltimore Colts. At my first job selling newspapers I won a piece of the poly turf from the Orange bowl when they replaced it. I was a member of the Big Brothers organization, and as such got to meeting most of the '72 Fins team, and I still have all their autographs on a Miami Dolphins hat I got from a game.
I now live in Southern California. I've been here pretty much since 1980, except for 6 years in the USMC. I have attended almost every Dolphins - Chargers game since then, buying tickets for 6-7 people at field level on the visitor side at both Qualcomm and most recently the Carson temporary stadium. I have purchased NFL Sunday Ticket every year since its inception and have only used it to watch every Dolphins game, every season.
I spent the "bad years" blogging for the Dolphins under the handle "LeftCoastFinFan" and many of my articles are still out there. I suffered through the losses and poor coaching, and my family almost disowned me on Sunday because of my complete frustration with the poor coaching and general team mismanagement, which would result in my yelling at the television over the general incompetence I would see displayed on game day.
And still, every game day, I would don my Dolphins jersey and hat and socks and have hope that things would improve. I took a lot of ridicule and never wavered in my allegiance. I have a picture of my first grandson in his Miami Dolphins onesie sleeping my chest watching a game. My dog had a Dolphins collar and my wife bought her a dog jersey for gameday. I still display the Dolphins logo on my cell phone screen saver, and don't shy away from acknowledging them as my team to anyone.
In other words, I have spent quite a bit of time and money on supporting my team.
I say all that to say this - I think I'm done. Firing Flores was a ridiculous move, and I just am disappointed beyond belief.
Our team has had a lot of problems for a long time now: lack of talent on the field; inability to find the next franchise QB; poor draft management; and lack of quality coaching. But it really starts with a good coach, and after watching Flores manage the team for the past three season, I have felt like we are on the right track. Over the past 3 years, there have only been a few times that I have really disagreed with the decisions that Flores has made - both on game day and regarding team management.
There are two very big issues that I believe have kept the Dolphins from excelling - the transition of coordinators and QB/Oline play.
No team can hit their talent potential when they have to deal with changes to the system and playbook every year. Good teams have stability on this area. They keep a solid core of player talent who already know their roles and responsibilities, and then can bring in new talent and teach the system to fewer players. When you switch coordinators like the Fins have, you lose that "base level" starting point you should have from the core guys who have been in the system for a couple of years. Now I know Chan Gailey needed to go for many reasons, but he did well for what he had to work with at the time. I think the coordinator and system changes have stunted the team growth on both sides of the ball.
As for QB play, I wanted Herbert for a couple of reasons - I am a Parcells "sniff-test" believer on a few counts and I worried about Tua's size and injury history. There is definitely such a thing as "injury prone", for whatever reason, and availability is the most important ability. But I think Tua has the ability to help the Dolphins win, and it is difficult to determine how far he can take the team behind the terrible play of the Oline and lack of a run game.
Now given that I don't actually know what happened behind the scenes during team meetings or in the headsets on gameday, if I were to fault Flores for anything, it would be failure to take the reins and make changes when things were not working - both through the season and during a game. He did do some of this with regard to QB play. But I think on offense, he should have played Tua more last year to figure out what he could do, and also aggressively stepped in to change up the game plan (on both offense and defense) when things weren't working. Again, I understand that I don't know what happened behind the scenes, but it seemed like Brian Flores is the kind of guy to let people handle their own responsibilities and not micromanage.
But honestly, I believe this is the type of thing that gets worked out with stability at the coordinator position and was on its way to getting resolved. Firing Flores resets this entire thing back level 0. How is that good?
Brian Flores has done a great job earning the respect of the player, the media, and the fans. There is a reason for this - it doesn't "just happen". I don't know how much influence in roster decisions Grier had and how much Flores had in things like the draft and free agency, but I feel better about this roster than I have since the 90s. There are questions at QB that need answering, and we have mismanaged the O-Line acquisitions / development. And the RB position needs to be figured out, but I tend to agree with the strategy that deprioritizes that position on the assumption that good Oline performance has more to do with a successful run game than having elite RB talent.
Brian Flores knows what he is doing on the sideline during gameday. You watch some of the coaches who don't know how to manage time outs, manage the clock, when to challenge, etc. and you really appreciate how good Brian Flores really is in how he manages the game. He goes for it on 4th down when it makes sense. He throws the challenge flag when it makes sense. You watch a guy like Kingsbury on the sidelines and you really appreciate how Flores handles these situations. I'm not a Cards fan, but poor game management is a real peeve of mine. I don't worry about that with Flores on the sideline.
And Brian Flores has his team playing smart. If you remove poor decisions by the QB, there have not been a lot of self-inflicted wounds caused by silly personal fouls or poor player decisions that result from the player not paying attention to situational football (down and distance, clock management, etc.).
We haven't had a coach that can get this type of performance out of the players, and the team on gameday since J.J. Now we get to start all over again. I had so hoped to see the Fins get back to the Super Bowl during my lifetime. But now we are starting over again with a minimum of 3 or 4 more years before we find out if the decisions you are making today are going to pan out or whether we need to begin again, again.
I have not ever taken the time to write about my displeasure with the team, but I honestly don't recall ever been this disappointed. I hoped we would right the ship within the first three years of the rebuild, but with the progress I have seen I was able to enjoy watching the Fins this year, and was very hopeful about the coming season.
Now? New coach? Probably new Coords? New system? New players to fit the new system? I just don't have it in me any longer to watch this incomprehensible team management.
I wish you the best in your future endeavors but I’m afraid I'm done.