Black Monday in the NFL is the day after the regular season ends, when coaches are fired after teams have underperformed. In 2022, Black Monday included a surprise when news broke that the Miami Dolphins were relieving head coach Brian Flores of his duties, choosing to move on from a coach that had just led the franchise to its first back-to-back winning seasons since 2002 and 2003. The move comes as team owner Stephen Ross indicates there were communication and collaboration issues within the organization that needed to be resolved - and Flores’ firing resolved them.
Whatever happened inside the organization, the Dolphins are now in a position where, just three years after hiring Flores, they are back in the head coaching carousel. Who will be the new head coach when the 2022 season begins?
The first candidate to get confirmed for the Dolphins is Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. According to a report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Dolphins have requested permission to conduct an interview with the assistant coach from their AFC East rival. Rapoport indicated the Chicago Bears have also requested an interview with Daboll, with more teams expected to pursue the coordinator as well.
Daboll began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant at Williams & Mary in 1997, then was a graduate assistant at Michigan State in 1998 and 1999. He moved to the NFL in 2000 as a defensive assistant with the New England Patriots, moving to the offensive side of the ball as the team’s wide receivers coach in 2006. He was hired as the New York Jets’ quarterbacks coach in 2007, then moved to the Cleveland Browns as their offensive coordinator in 2009. In 2011, he returned to the AFC East with a one-year stint as the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator, turning around the Miami offense in the final year of Tony Sparano’s era as the team’s head coach. After a year as the Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive coordinator, he returned to the Patriots as their tight ends coach from 2013 through 2016. In 2017, he served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Alabama, winning the National Championship there. He was hired by the Bills in 2018 to be their offensive coordinator, completing the AFC East grand slam. He has been on the staff for five Super Bowl championship teams, all with the Patriots. He was named the Assistant Coach of the Year in 2020.
Buffalo was the 30th ranked team in offensive scoring in 2018 at 16.8 points per game, Daboll’s first season with the team. They moved up to 23rd in 2019, averaging 19.6 points. They were second in 2020, jumping to 31.3 points per game, then were third this season at 28.4 points.
Under Daboll’s offensive system and coaching, quarterback Josh Allen has advanced from being a questionable seventh-overall draft pick by the Bills in 2018 to a Pro Bowl player who was fourth in the league in passer rating in 2020. Allen threw for 4,407 yards on 63.3 percent completions this season with 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, giving him a 92.2 passer rating this season.
While Ross has said the new head coach would decide the future of the quarterback position in Miami, the lure of Daboll being able to tutor Tua Tagovailoa, who just completed his second season in the NFL, could be a big reason why the Dolphins would like to interview Daboll. While the 46-year-old has not been a head coach yet, he has experience under some of the top coaches in the game and could be someone who comes in and stabilizes a coaching staff that has continually seen changes throughout the Flores era, including Monday’s firing of Flores.