Skip to main content

Flores' Place Among Dolphins Coaches

Ranking the 10 full-time head coaches in Miami Dolphins history and where Brian Flores fits

Brian Flores was fired Monday after three seasons as Miami Dolphins head coach, leaving with a 24-25 record that included consecutive winning seasons.

Owner Stephen Ross indicated that Ross' firing had more to do with off-the-field concerns than the team's performance because Flores accomplished some good things during his term, most notably bringing the Dolphins back from a disastrous 1-7 start in 2021 to finish 9-8.

So where does Flores fit in terms of all-time Miami Dolphins head coaches and their performances? Here's one man's ranking of the 10 full-time head coaches the team has had, based on record (obviously) and whether the coach left the team in better shape than he inherited it.

1. DON SHULA

Years: 1970-95

Regular season record: 257-133-2 (.659)

Playoff appearances: 16 (two Super Bowls)

Analysis: Yeah, as if there were any other choice. The standard by which any other Dolphins head coach every will be measured.

2. JIMMY JOHNSON

Years: 1996-99

Regular season record: 36-28 (.563)

Playoff appearances: 3

Analysis: A lot of folks get too hung up on the fact that Johnson didn't get the Dolphins to the Super Bowl, but he made the playoffs three times in four years and left the foundation of a championship-caliber defense with guys like Bowens, Taylor, Thomas, Surtain and Madison.

3. BRIAN FLORES

Years: 2019-21

Regular season record: 24-25 (.490)

Playoff appearances: 0

Analysis: Flores inherited a team in rebuilding mode and squeezed out five wins out of a talent-deficient roster his first year before producing a winning record the next two. There was some big-time coaching done here on the defensive side of the ball.

4. TONY SPARANO

Years: 2008-11

Regular season record: 29-32 (.475)

Playoff appearances: 1

Analysis: The Sparano Dolphins were different in that they were built with toughness in mind, something that's not replicated since then. Sparano also deserves major kudos from bringing the Dolphins from 1-15 the year before he arrived to 11-5, but things went south after a couple of years and ended poorly after owner Stephen Ross and GM Jeff Ireland flew to California to try to woo Jim Harbaugh.

5. DAVE WANNSTEDT

Years: 2000-04

Regular season record: 42-31 (.575)

Scroll to Continue

Read More

Playoff appearances: 2

Analysis:  While Wannstedt has the second-best winning percentage among Dolphins head coaches, it did inherit a really good foundation left by Johnson and it wouldn't be out of line to suggest those Dolphins team underachieved. Wannstedt also loses points for the way his tenure ended with the disastrous 2004 season.

6. ADAM GASE

Years: 2016-18

Regular season record: 23-25 (.479)

Playoff appearances: 1

Analysis: Gase was a really hot coaching candidate when the Dolphins hired him in January of 2016 and he certainly lived up to his billing by guiding the Dolphins to the playoffs in his first year. But it didn't take long afterward to realize this was the case of a perfect storm because the next two years didn't work out as well. The decision to go to Jay Cutler in 2017 didn't pan out (at all) and Gase didn't provide great visuals by drawing plays on a board during games while the defense was on the field.

7. NICK SABAN

Years: 2005-06

Regular season record: 15-17 (.469)

Playoff appearances: 0

Analysis: What Saban did best for the Dolphins was coming up with a defensive scheme to took full advantage of Jason Taylor's multiple talents and helped him become NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Without question, Saban could coach X's and O's, but he came up short in terms of dealing with players. His exit also was less than ideal and he'll forever be remembered for that — along with his decision to trade for Daunte Culpepper instead of signing Drew Brees.

8. JOE PHILBIN

Years: 2012-15

Regular season record: 24-28 (.462)

Playoff appearances: 0

Analysis: To be blunt, Philbin was a strange hiring from the start considering he was an offensive coordinator in name mostly at Green Bay because it was Mike McCarthy who called the play when he was there. Philbin also didn't have a very dynamic personality and the team too often took on that persona. It was a big surprise when he got to start a fourth season in 2015, and then he was gone after a 1-3 start.

9. GEORGE WILSON

Years: 1966-69

Regular season record: 15-39-2 (.278)

Playoff appearances: 0

Analysis: The first coach in Dolphins history was given a very tough task, leading an expansion franchise, but the reality is that the record didn't improve very much from the first year to the fourth.

10. CAM CAMERON

Years: 2007

Regular season record: 1-15 (.063)

Playoff appearances: 0

Analysis: There wasn't much doubt Cameron would come in last place here, was there? This was a failure on every level, and what makes it even more painful is the Dolphins hired Cameron after also interviewing Mike Tomlin. The Steelers hired Tomlin after the Dolphins hired Cameron, and Tomlin just set an NFL record by having at least a .500 record in each of his first 15 seasons.