Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Desperation mounting in Miami as Brian Flores struggles to connect with players amid losing skid

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USA Today

The Miami Dolphins five-game losing streak has ramped up tension within the organization and further complicated coach Brian Flores’ relationships with players and others within the organization, league sources said.

There was a significant locker room backlash a year ago, when Flores began yo-yoing his quarterbacks and showing a quick hook with rookie Tua Tagovailoa, sources said, and despite a 10-win campaign there were lingering questions among many players about the continual overhaul of staff and players and concerns about the ability to connect with the coach. Last week’s loss to the previously winless Jaguars in London has furthered the angst, at least some veterans believe the decision not to take the bye week after the international trip was a mistake, and owner Stephen Ross has become increasingly concerned about the direction of the franchise, sources said.

“There is a really negative vibe down there right now,” said one source with direct knowledge of the situation. “A lot of players do not trust (Flores). Flo thinks he is a player’s coach, with an open-door policy, but I know a number of players who would tell you they don’t really think he is approachable enough, or flexible.

“There is still too much of that New England (stuff) going on. It just doesn’t work. There is a psychology to handling players and building a team, and you have to be able to connect and motivate. That’s not the vibe there. It’s pretty bad.”

Some close to Tagovailoa believe he has never been fully embraced by this staff, and the lingering issues with an overwhelmed offensive line, and a group of receivers who have lengthy injury histories, have resulted in him being put in difficult positions to try to succeed. If the Dolphins were to land Deshaun Watson in a trade, they would love to acquire value for Tagovailoa in return, but that seems unlikely to occur according to the general managers I spoke with, and some of the teams linked to the Dolphins’ starter in media reports last week simply do not have interest in acquiring him.

The Dolphins have yet to emerge as a contender under Ross’ stewardship, and he is not one to refrain from making a splashy move if deemed necessary. How the team performs in the second half of the season could have significant impact on what the organization looks like moving forward.

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