A story about the relationship between Brian Flores and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has emerged in the wake of the coach’s firing by the Miami Dolphins. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel published a column that talked about heated exchanges between the two when things were going bad in Miami this season.
One particular argument occurred during halftime of a game, and “F-bombs” were traded. These type of incidents happen way more than they’re reported, but some are speculating if, in part, this contributed to Flores’ firing.
It started at halftime with a meltdown in the locker room as their season melted down on the field. Coach Brian Flores was angry at quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s dismal half. He said things. Tua said things back.
Anger flew. The f-word – gasp – was traded. Tua said something about Flores not knowing how to talk to people. Flores said something about needing better bleeping play.
Tagovailoa finished 18th in Football Outsiders DVOA metric for quarterbacks and 18th in QBR. Those numbers are below average and in the bottom half of league starters. To be fair, the Dolphins’ offensive line is ranked 30th in the league. The only teams with worse offensive line play this season were both 4-13: the New York Giants and Houston Texans.
Maybe Flores could communicate better, but Tagovailoa and that offensive line could have played better as well.
The coach-quarterback dynamic in the NFL is an important one. The two don’t need to be best friends, but they must be in sync for the team to function at its best. Flores and Tagovailoa’s relationship looks like it could have been better.
Besides play level and communication, is it possible that there were other factors that soured that relationship?
It was no secret Flores was the driving force behind the Dolphins’ pursuit of Texans’ quarterback DeShaun Watson, who missed the entire season dealing with multiple sexual assault allegations.
Perhaps Tagovailoa felt some kind of way about not having the support of his head coach. Former Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills potentially alluded to Flores’ non-coaching issues in a tweet.
Respect Flo as a coach. Idk about the other shit he was on. https://t.co/8j3wSDa9N0
— Kenny Stills (@KSTiLLS) January 11, 2022
ESPN’s Jeff Darlington seemed to suggest the same in a tweet, referencing Flores’ poor relationships with Tagovailoa and general manager Chris Grier were the main factors that led to his firing.
The decision to fire Flores can be summed up with one word: Relationships. His relationship with Grier and Tua had deteriorated to a pretty bad place. Along with constant staff changes, owner Steve Ross no longer saw Flores as a healthy fit in Miami. https://t.co/9oRmk66hm9
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) January 10, 2022
Maybe the pressure on Tagovailoa and Flores to perform was too much for both men. The reality is, it’s never just one thing or one reason in situations like this. There is plenty of blame to go around.
Grier has been general manager since 2016 and the team has made one playoff appearance. During that time, they’ve had three winning seasons — two with Flores as head coach. The roster needs more talent. That’s on Grier.
A quarterback’s job is to work with what he has and elevate the play of those around him; limit turnovers and execute the plays being called. That’s on Tagovailoa.
Keeping the team together, putting players in the best possible position to succeed and effectively communicating to your players is on the head coach. That’s Flores’ responsibility.
Nobody was perfect in their role. But Flores did the best of the three in his position.
More News from Our Partners