The Miami Dolphins continue to exceed expectations in 2020, improving their record to 6-3 in Week 10 with a win over the Los Angeles Chargers. As the Dolphins make a playoff push, head coach Brian Flores is making a strong case to be named the NFL Coach of the Year.
It didn’t take long for Flores to make an impact. After the Dolphins went a combined 13-19 in 2017 and 2018, Miami showed signs of improvement in 2019 when Flores went 5-11 as a rookie head coach.
Heading into Week 11, the Dolphins are a half-game behind the Buffalo Bills for first place in the AFC East. They currently have the tiebreaker over teams that share the same record and find themselves outside of the playoff picture.
The Dolphins have been more impressive than most other 6-3 teams. Miami has outscored its opponents by 69 points, giving them the AFC’s fourth-best point differential.
The 6-3 Indianapolis Colts have a plus-65 point differential. The Tennessee Titans have only outscored their opponents by 14 points. The Cleveland Browns are also 6-3, but they’ve been outscored by 28 total points this season.
FiveThirtyEight’s prediction model gave Miami a 24% chance to make the playoffs before the season began. The Dolphins have since nearly doubled their odds with a 45% chance to reach the postseason.
No other team has overachieved to that degree, potentially putting Flores in the driver’s seat for Coach of the Year.
The Dolphins started 2019 0-7 with a historically poor point-differential and were the laughingstock of the NFL.They’re 10-7 since with a promising rookie QB, a wildly improved defense and tons of future draft capital.And Brian Flores is a damn good head coach.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) November 9, 2020
In three starts, Tua Tagovailoa has just as many wins as fellow rookies Joe Burrow (2) and Justin Herbert (1) combined.And that speaks more to the team built by #Dolphins coach Brian Flores than any of the rooks.
— Safid Deen ____ (@Safid_Deen) November 16, 2020
Flores’ most obvious challenger is Mike Tomlin, who leads the NFL’s only undefeated team. The Pittsburgh Steelers are 9-0 with a three-game lead atop the AFC North.
The award usually goes to a coach who lifts a team out of the doldrums. If the Steelers finish with a historic regular season, Tomlin is likely to win the award. Otherwise, Flores could very well receive the honor in just his second year with Miami.
Bill Belichick has only been named NFL Coach of the Year three times with the New England Patriots, despite making nine trips to the Super Bowl. New England is supposed to contend for a title each year.
The Dolphins were supposed to have a losing record in 2020 while finding out what they had in Tua Tagovailoa. The rookie quarterback has won all three starts since replacing Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, supported by a defense that’s giving up fewer points per game than all but four other teams.
“We’re not looking down the road. We’re looking at the next day, the next meeting, the next practice,” Flores told reporters after Sunday’ win, via The Athletic. “That’s my message to the team on a daily basis, and hopefully, they’re listening to it and I think that’s probably the best approach. That way we’re not thinking about everything else that’s going on. We’re just focused on right now.”
Whether or not they choose to look ahead, the future is bright for Flores and the Dolphins.
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