Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is taking a page from one of his friends. He’s pushing alternative facts.
In the aftermath of Monday’s stunning decision to fire coach Brian Flores, who led the team to winning records in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2002-03 and went 4-2 against the Patriots (sweeping them in 2021), the Dolphins have pivoted sharply in the direction of the quarterback they were ready to abandon for the first half of the season. It’s now all about Tua, who spent the first two months of the campaign wondering when, not if, the team would finalize a trade for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
And while the Dolphins have every right to go all in with Tua Tagovailoa (good luck finding a coach who will truthfully say that Tua is his guy, before signing a five-year guaranteed contract), that doesn’t mean the Dolphins are currently telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth as to how they got to this point.
Consider this, from Adam Schefter of ESPN: “With Brian Flores out in Miami, the chances of the Dolphins pursuing or acquiring Texans’ QB Deshaun Watson are greatly diminished, if not gone, per sources. Flores had an interest in exploring a Watson deal, but others in organization, including owner Steven Ross, did not.”
That’s false. Ross wanted Watson, the same way Ross wanted Tua. The same way, before wanting Tua, Ross wanted Joe Burrow.
Flores, if anything, wanted it to be over. The constant hovering of Watson created an unnecessary distraction for the team and for Tua, who did not react well to the constant talk of Watson possibly appearing out of nowhere and seizing the starting job. (It’s no coincidence that the Dolphins rattled off seven straight wins after the deadline came and went to make a 2021 trade.)
The mere fact that someone from the Dolphins texted Schefter the copy-paste assertion that “Flores had an interest in exploring a Watson deal” proves how incorrect that claim is. The Dolphins did MUCH more than explore a deal. If Watson had managed to settle his 22 civil lawsuits, the deal would have been done.
NFL Network has gotten in on the alternative facts act, too, pushing the notion that the Dolphins are all in on Tua and actually vouching for the credibility of the recent claim from Stephen Ross that he has “no plans” to pursue Watson. “That was truthful,” writes Ian Rapoport, who is directly employed by Ross and the NFL’s other 31 owners.
Now that Flores is gone, the Dolphins are trying to pin the past dysfunction on him. It’s not fair, and it’s not accurate. The fish stinks from the head down, and in Miami the guy who calls the shots (without expressly calling the shots) is Ross.
Ross wanted Burrow, but Ross didn’t get him. Ross wanted Tua, and no one tried or succeeded in getting Ross to pivot to Justin Herbert. Ross wanted Watson.
Ross may still want Watson, or someone else. For now, Ross needs to hire a good coach. That task becomes complicated if candidates think dysfunction still lingers within the organization.
Spoiler alert: It does. Second spoiler alert: It still will. Flores wasn’t the problem. And the passage of time will prove that, both as to what Flores does without the Dolphins and as to what the Dolphins do without Flores.