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NFL Black Monday: Dolphins fire Brian Flores; Bears, Vikings part ways with coach, GM

Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores glances to the side while holding a clipboard on the sideline.
Brian Flores has been fired after three seasons as coach of the Miami Dolphins.
(Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press)

Consecutive winning seasons were not enough for Brian Flores to keep his job as coach of the Miami Dolphins.

The Dolphins fired Flores on Monday, a somewhat surprising move that came less than 24 hours after the team finished a 9-8 season. Flores was 24-25 in his three seasons in Miami, not making the playoffs in any of those seasons but finishing this year with eight wins in the final nine games.

“I made a decision today to part ways with Brian Flores,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said. “After evaluating where we are as an organization and what we need going forward to improve, I determined that key dynamics of our football organization weren’t functioning at a level I want it to be and felt that this decision was in the best interest of the Miami Dolphins.”

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Ross is a Michigan graduate and the largest donor in that university’s history, and the Dolphins could look at Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh as one of the possible candidates to take over.

Flores was hired in February 2019 and immediately began overseeing a rebuild. Miami started 0-7 in his first season, 1-3 last season and 1-7 this season. But the Dolphins always found ways to get better as the season went along, going 20-8 in games played in November, December and January under Flores.

After a thrilling Week 18 of the NFL season, the playoffs are set. Here’s a breakdown of each first-round matchup and what to watch for next weekend.

The next Miami coach will be the team’s 11th since its most recent playoff victory on Dec. 30, 2000.

“I believe we have a talented young roster in place and have the opportunity to be much better in 2022,” Ross said.

— Tim Reynolds

Bears fire Nagy and Pace

The Chicago Bears fired general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy on Monday, hoping new leadership in the front office and on the sideline will lift a struggling franchise.

Nagy’s fate seemed sealed as the Bears struggled through a 6-11 season that ended with a loss at Minnesota on Sunday. But it was not clear if Pace also would be let go or retained in either his current role or a different capacity.

The new coach and GM will need to develop rookie quarterback Justin Fields and surround the former Ohio State star with more talent to help him grow. They will have to address a defense that has slipped in recent seasons. More than anything, it will be their job to turn around a franchise with only seven playoff appearances in the last 30 years.

The Rams’ inability to beat the San Francisco 49ers shows why Matthew Stafford and Sean McVay don’t have what it takes to reach the Super Bowl.

The Bears were 48-65 with one winning season and made the postseason twice in the seven years since Pace was hired from New Orleans’ front office in 2015 to replace Phil Emery. Nagy was 34-31 in four seasons.

The Bears have not won in the postseason since the 2010 team advanced to the NFC championship game.

— Andrew Seligman

Vikings fire Zimmer and Spielman

The Minnesota Vikings fired general manager Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer on Monday, after a second straight absence from the playoffs for a 61-year-old franchise still seeking a title.

The move came a day after the 45th anniversary of Minnesota’s last Super Bowl appearance, after owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf met with each of the top two leaders of the football operation.

“We appreciate Rick and Mike’s commitment to the team’s on-field success, their passion for making a positive impact in our community and their dedication to players, coaches and staff,” the owners said in a statement distributed by the team. “While these decisions are not easy, we believe it is time for new leadership to elevate our team so we can consistently contend for championships.”

Justin Herbert did everything he could to get the Chargers into the playoffs but it wasn’t enough to overcome a determined Raiders team and its fans.

Zimmer was 72-56-1 in eight seasons, plus 2-3 in the postseason. The Vikings won the NFC North in 2015 and 2017, but in the end the state of the division was the same as at the beginning — with rival Green Bay in firm control.

Since Spielman was hired as vice president of player personnel in 2006, the only other NFC teams that haven’t made it to a Super Bowl are Dallas, Detroit and Washington. Twelve teams have won the conference in those 16 years, the last 10 of which Spielman had full authority over the roster as the general manager.

— Dave Campbell


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