Every Black Monday has a surprising NFL coach firing. After the 2021 NFL season, the Dolphins vowed to fire Brian Flores after just three seasons.
Flores’ teams did not make the playoffs, but Miami finished 10-6 and 9-8 the last two seasons despite a lot of trouble on the transition roster. He looked like a shining star in Bill Belichick’s coaching tree, but now the former Patriots defensive coordinator, just 40, will be looking for a new job.
In the meantime, the Dolphins will jump into the process of replacing the signing. Here are the best candidates to help owner Stephen Ross make up for a questionable and somewhat hasty decision:
Top Dolphins Coach Candidates
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan Head Coach (Age: 58)
Despite early reports to the contrary, there’s no way the Dolphins will make this move unless they have some kind of idea how they plan to improve Flores, pairing someone new with retained general manager Chris Grier. Nor can it be ignored that Ross is a great man from Michigan, and the business school is named after him. Ross is a billionaire used to getting what he wants, and if he wants Harbaugh, he can pull out the biggest Brinks truck to take him personally from Ann Arbor to South Beach.
Byron Leftwich, Buccaneers offensive coordinator (age 41)
Leftwich makes sense for Florida’s other non-Tampa Bay team, Jacksonville, as it used to be a successful first-round quarterback for the Jaguars. But he could also be a huge influence on Tua Tagovailoa after doing well with his mentor Bruce Arians and his colleague Tom Brady.
Doug Pederson, former Eagles head coach (age: 53)
Pederson is hanging around a year after Philadelphia. He’s this year’s Mike McCarthy, a one-time Super Bowl winner available after a year off to cool off. He’s a well-organized former quarterback with good offensive acumen, which would be good for Tagovailoa as well.
Joe Brady, former Panthers and LSU offensive coordinator (age: 32)
Brady did wonders for Joe Burrow in college before the Bengals took him No. 1 and he took off as a second-year QB of the 2020 draft class from Tagovailoa. Brady should have been retained as a rising star in Carolina, but like Flores, there was an internal conflict of interest. He also has a great deal of experience with Sean Payton in New Orleans.
Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs offensive coordinator (age 52)
Bieniemy is behind in hiring a coach and part of the reason is that he has been needed to coach through the playoffs to the Super Bowl in the last two major years with Patrick Mahomes. It is another solid hire that has in mind to boost Tagovailoa.
Demeco Ryans, 49ers defensive coordinator (age: 37)
Ryans, a former star linebacker for the Texans, had a good season navigating his unit’s injuries replacing Jets coach Brian Flores. San Francisco is one of the strongest second-tier teams, which is a must for the Dolphins. He is a player coach with a good pedigree and can keep Flores’ master motivator.
Kellen Moore, Cowboys offensive coordinator (age: 33)
Moore has launched a great explosive attack with Dak Prescott and can also take advantage of the Tagovailoa advantage well and commit to Grier to further improve weapons. Moore, like Brady, is very young, but he is more mature than his age with his intelligence and organization.
Jerod Mayo, Patriots inside linebackers coach (age: 35)
Would the Dolphins return to their Patriots connection with Grier? If they do, May is Bill Belichick would be the last young rising student who is not his son Steve. Mayo has the potential to be as effective as Mike Vrabel is for the Titans.
Brian Daboll, Bills offensive coordinator (age 46)
Daboll was the Dolphins offensive coordinator in 2011 and has experience with former Dolphins coach Nick Saban in Alabama and has also branched out into the Belichick tree. His full body of work with Josh Allen says he should get a chance to lead an entire team. Stealing it to work with Tagovailoa is not a bad plan.
Mike McDaniel, 49ers offensive coordinator (age: 38)
Yale graduate McDaniel is Kyle Shanahan’s right-hand man, as is Packers coach Matt LaFleur and Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. He’s a bright young start with a bit more experience than Brady and Moore, which should attract Ross to join Tagovailoa.