The Patriots’ Super Bowl LIII loss to the Rams caused many reactions, some more extreme than others. Some fans of Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels are already clamoring for a replacement at head coach. In defense, Tom Brady was his usual self in Sunday’s game: efficient with limited mistakes while still possessing enough magic to lead the Pats back into contention. The question remains; who could replace Brian Flores?
Brian Flores is the head coach of the New England Patriots. He was fired by the team on January 22nd, 2019. The 6 best candidates to replace Brian Flores are Josh McDaniels, Mike Vrabel, Frank Reich, Matt Patricia, Steve Wilks, and Wade Phillips.
Every NFL offseason brings a surprise termination, usually from a club that was in playoff contention for most of the season. This season, Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores unwittingly performed that role.
Flores, who turns 41 in February, was dismissed by the Dolphins after three years with a 24-25 record. After starting the season 0-7, Miami went on a seven-game winning run to finish the season 9-8. The club, however, dismissed him less than a day after a gratifying home win against his old mentor, Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots.
Flores’ successor will be the Dolphins’ 13th head coach, and he or she will inherit a club that includes Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard and star rookie receiver Jaylen Waddle. Although Tua Tagovailoa, the squad’s young quarterback, is expected to return in 2022, his place on the team seems to be in flux.
Who will the Dolphins select to replace Flores? We have a few great candidates in mind, including many former NFL head coaches. The sole requirement for this list is that the candidate in question makes logistical sense. No, Bill Belichick and Urban Meyer aren’t among them.
The top choices stack up as follows when considering the aforementioned prerequisites:
Jim Harbaugh, head coach of the Michigan Wolverines, gets an honorable mention.
#Dolphins owner Stephen Ross: “I’m not going to be the person to take Jim Harbaugh from the University of Michigan.”
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 10, 2022
When the Dolphins dismissed Flores, social media instantly focused on Harbaugh, who had just completed his ninth season as the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines. Older Dolphins fans may recall that late in the 2010 season, owner Stephen Ross allegedly chased Harbaugh, then at Stanford, before opting for Tony Sparano.
This time, according to Ross, a Michigan graduate, there will be no such chase. Harbaugh will not be hired away from the Wolverines, according to the 81-year-old owner. We’ll believe it when we see it, but Harbaugh is here as an honorable mention for the time being.
6. Arizona State special advisor Marvin Lewis (and former Cincinnati Bengals head coach)
Could Marvin Lewis, the former head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, be hired by the Miami Dolphins? | Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Lewis may seem like an odd option here, but don’t allow his 0-7 playoff record mislead you into believing he’s a bad head coach. It’s easy to forget that from 2003 to 2018, he guided the Bengals to a 131-122-3 record as their head coach.
Lewis, who will age 64 in September, was a special adviser to Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards last year and interviewed for three head coaching jobs. He’d offer consistency and respectability to a Dolphins team that desperately needed both.
On this list, there are better and younger possibilities, but Lewis meets all of the early criteria. If the Dolphins’ preferred prospects don’t pan out, he’s a solid backup option.
5. Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy
Bieniemy celebrated a Super Bowl triumph at Hard Rock Stadium in February 2020. The 52-year-old may want to start searching for permanent homes in the Miami region less than 24 months later.
Bieniemy’s track record as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator speaks for itself, and he’s been urged by a number of important NFL figures, including Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy, to take over as head coach.
Under Ross’ leadership, the Dolphins have been a progressive organization, with the league’s only active pair of a Black head coach (Flores) and a Black general manager (Chris Grier). Don’t be shocked if Bieniemy’s name gets called in the next several weeks.
4. Alabama Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien
Bill O’Brien, the offensive coordinator for the Alabama Crimson Tide, is a good fit for the Miami Dolphins | Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
It seems that O’Brien, who will be 53 in October, has finally started to shake the stench of his last months with the Houston Texans. Under his leadership, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young earned the Heisman Trophy, and the Crimson Tide are in contention for another national title.
In portions of seven seasons in the NFL, O’Brien went 54-52, a mark that was exacerbated by an injury-plagued 4-12 performance in 2017. The seasoned offensive mind makes sense in Miami as long as he isn’t in charge of dealing players. Coaches seldom win four division championships in a five-year span by chance.
No, Belichick’s dominance in the AFC East during the Tom Brady era doesn’t count.
3. Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett
Hackett makes the most sense if the Dolphins are going to prefer a coordinator without head coaching experience. Under his guidance, Aaron Rodgers has flourished, and the Packers have won the NFC North in each of Hackett’s three years as offensive coordinator.
Do you recall who else had Hackett as their offensive coordinator and put up big passing numbers? That would be Blake Bortles. Imagine what Tagovailoa (or Deshaun Watson) might do with Hackett in charge.
2. Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn
Quinn led the Atlanta Falcons to the Super Bowl in his second season as head coach, and they advanced to the NFC Divisional Round the following year. Things went worse from there, as he was dismissed by the Falcons following a 0-5 start in 2020. Quinn, on the other hand, led one of the best defenses in the NFL this season in Dallas, where he helped cornerback Trevon Diggs and linebacker Micah Parsons develop into two of the league’s best young players.
Some Dolphins supporters may be put off by the prospect of another defensive-minded head coach. Quinn, on the other hand, has experience, has won previously, and was the Dolphins’ defensive line coach from 2005 to 2006 under Nick Saban. Who says you can’t return home?
1. Doug Pederson, former head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles
Re-sending: Partnering with NFL GamePass for second straight year to show how the pros use gametape to do their jobs covering @NFL. My breakdown of Doug Pederson’s imagination and inclusiveness:pic.twitter.com/mAlEDJpI1b
— Peter King (@peter_king) August 14, 2018
In terms of homecomings, Pederson was the Dolphins’ backup quarterback from 1991 through 1995. He’s the guy the team needs to employ now, two decades later, if they want to return to the playoffs anytime soon.
Pederson, who turns 54 on Jan. 31, won Super Bowl 52 as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles after going 42-37-1 in five seasons with the team. He’s a proven offensive thinker who should check all of the boxes the Dolphins currently have.
We’ll ask the question once again. Who says you can’t return home?
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