The moment Arizona Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort officially took over the team's front office was the moment everyone started pondering who he would hire for the team’s vacant head coaching spot. Sean Payton talk died down quickly, DeMeco Ryans canceled his interview, and an interview with Brian Flores got lined up out of the wreckage.
Flores and Ossenfort worked together for a long time in New England with the Patriots. Flores is a big believer in the Patriot way, building a team the way his mentor Bill Belichick did, and being stern but fair with his players. It is a coaching style that is unique in 2023 given the attitude of some athletes but both men together would be a perfect match in terms of the message the team is sending top to bottom.
The former Miami Dolphins coach left their fanbase split: You either loved him for kick-starting the turnaround or you hate him for how he was portrayed to have treated Tua Tagovailoa. To get to the bottom of what Cardinals fans could expect with him as head coach we went to a colleague who covers them for AllDolphins in Dante Collinelli.
This short question-and-answer is both informative but also leaves some questions lingering. Regardless there is a much clearer picture of what to expect from this team both immediately and in the future if Flores is indeed the hire.
Q: Once the hiring of Monti Ossenfort happened, the simplest answer to the math equation that is the Cardinals coaching search became Brian Flores. We know his exit wasn’t under the best of circumstances but what's your thoughts on him as a head coach in general?
Dante Collinelli: If you spent all your time on Dolphins Twitter, you’d think Flores is the worst coach of all time. However, Flores’ Dolphins consistently performed above expectations. He was the first Dolphins coach to have two winning seasons in a row since Dave Wannstedt.
Flores is capable of winning games, but his rigid dedication to the “Patriots Way” won’t work for everyone. Flores alienated a lot of players/coaches in Miami and brought in “his guys” to replace them. Those moves and the lack of good relationships in the building ultimately got him fired.
Q: So for a team like Arizona which has 30 looming free agents this could be a dream scenario for him based on that approach, yes?
Collinelli: It would certainly give Flores the same opportunity he had in Miami during the 2019 season. He brought in a lot of players/coaches with NE backgrounds and went to work building his program. It’s hard to imagine something like that not be appealing to him.
Q: Now in terms of building his program, obviously Kyler Murray is the program right now. Given Ossenfort's “ego” statement and how we know Flores handles himself, how bad could this potential hiring be for Murray and his future in Arizona? Or is it potentially the best move for him?
Collinelli: On paper, it doesn’t seem like Flores’ personality would meld with Murray’s. Flores isn’t going to let his QB yell at him on the sideline or show some of the body language Murray did this season. With that said, perhaps Flores will recognize Murray is the most physically gifted passer he’s worked with and amend his approach. I wouldn’t bet on it though which puts the onus on Murray.
Q: What was it exactly in his approach that had Tua Tagovailoa needing a completely new mental shaping under Mike McDaniel? Those two in South Beach was like a bad episode of the Kardashians at times.
Collinelli: It’s incredibly difficult to parse fact from fiction with Flores and Tua’s relationship. One thing is clear though: Flores just never seemed to be the right guy to develop a young passer. Whether he believed in Tua or not changes from source to source, but it was clear from the beginning with the Ryan Fitzpatrick saga that there was a disconnect. Things only got worse as Flores hired underwhelming offense coordinators and failed to legitimately upgrade the offense. Eventually, Tua’s confidence was shot and Flores was fired.
Q: So bringing up Fitzpatrick is perfect because Murray isn’t going to be back till October? Maybe November? They will be using someone else in the interim, what would you say are the chances Flores falls in love with a veteran running things while Murray is away?
Collinelli: It’s difficult to say because, unlike a rookie Tua Tagovailoa, Murray has proven he can be successful at this level. Still, Flores isn’t exactly known for seeing the big picture as a head coach. If the Cardinals sign a veteran, and that veteran is winning games, it wouldn’t shock me if Flores didn’t go back to Murray. I think it’s unlikely, but you can’t rule it out.