Brian Flores makes late case for coach of the year
Last week, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski had the inside track to coach of the year. Then, the Browns lost to the Jets.
The night before Cleveland fell to 10-5 and had its playoff chances shrink, the Dolphins enjoyed something close to divine intervention in the City of Sin. But even though luck had plenty to do with Miami’s last-second win over the Raiders, Dolphins coach Brian Flores once again proved that he knows his roster, and that he knows when and how to deploy, and un-deploy, its various pieces.
Flores flipped the switch on the quarterback position at the perfect time, removing rookie Tua Tagovailoa and inserting veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. The man who looks more like Civil War re-enacter than NFL quarterback made it happen, sparking the offense and securing the victory. Immediately after the game, Flores remained resolute: Tua will start in Week 17.
Although plenty of credit should go to Tua for not complaining about being benched and to Fitzpatrick for not politicking to start, the man holding it all together is Flores. The respect he has earned from his players keeps them from doing or saying anything, on or off the record, to disrupt the broader plan.
Although coach of the year is award only for the current year, Flores gets unofficial bonus points for the dramatic turnaround over which he has presided in his short time with Miami. He already has made the team into a contender, and the Dolphins now stand on the brink of the playoffs.
If the Dolphins get there, Flores becomes a finalist for coach of the year. If the Browns don’t make it, Flores arguably becomes the no-brainer No. 1 choice.