The Regular Season is over and for three of the teams of the AFC East, the offseason is kicking into full gear. The first team in this series is the Miami Dolphins who have the biggest changes coming in the form of a new Head Coach.
The Big Mistake
The Dolphins fired their Head Coach Joe Philbin after the London Fiasco and went the rest of the year with Dan Campbell. Campbell didn’t do much better and yet again the Dolphins are looking for a new HC. Instead of letting their GM Dennis Hickey get a chance to hire his own HC, they decide to let him go after two years. Hickey was the lone bright spot in the organization as his 2014 and 2015 drafts have given the Dolphins a lot of talent which should help them in the future. Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker have the makings of a solid duo and James is a serviceable RT when healthy. However in 2015 he did not have much say in free agency as team president Mike Tannenbaum overruled him in going for the big splash signing of Suh and crippling their cap. Now Miami has Tannenbaum (the same guy who ran the Jets to the ground) running the show with a yes man at GM. This is going to be a great year in Miami.
The Head Coach Search Begins
The Dolphins are looking for a Head Coach and owner Steve Ross made it clear he is looking for someone with head coaching experience. That severely limits who the Dolphins can actually hire which means they might be looking for a quick fix until Harbaugh gets tired at Michigan. With this criteria set out by Steve Ross, the options the Dolphins have at Head Coach are limited with Chuck Pagano now staying in Indianapolis.
The first big ex-Head Coach they are looking at is Mike Smith. Smith was in Atlanta where he had some success early on before faltering his last two years. He runs a very vanilla 4-3 defense and during his tenure relied on his QB Matt Ryan and RB Michael Turner to win games. With the Dolphins I don’t expect him to be doing much different. They will be running a very similar defense to last year which means there will be no exotic pressures, just a lot of zone. For a defensive coach, he did do a good job on offense by developing Matt Ryan to the QB he is today. If he comes to Miami, I expect him to bring in his buddy Mike Mularkey who was his offensive coordinator in Atlanta before taking the Jaguars Head Coaching job. The offense will be better suited to the strengths of Tannehill and will lean heavily on the running game of Ajayi and who else they bring in. It wouldn’t be a flashy hire, and he is horrible in the playoffs, but he at the very least is an upgrade over what they currently have (though that’s not saying much).
Now we go to the non-Head Coaches who have received requests to interview for the Head Coaching job. They requested the two Patriots coordinators and RB Coach Anthony Lynn from Buffalo and I expect none of them will get far. The Two Patriots coordinators won’t leave their easy job for a division rival and Anthony Lynn is not an appealing candidate yet. Then we go to the two big name candidates of Adam Gase and Teryl Austin. Gase is exactly what Tannehill needs to turn himself around and become the franchise guy. Gase has had success with Peyton Manning and even Jay Cutler and his versatile scheme means he is very suited to designing an offense around Tannehill so he can be successful. Austin is from Detroit and he coached Suh in 2014 and that defense was very successful. The Dolphins really need help on defense and Austin is very good at scheming around the front four which is the strength of the Dolphins. If he gets a good offensive coordinator (like Jim Bob Cooter), he would be a good fit.
Who They Should Hire
The candidates mentioned above are all alright in their own ways but unless Ross has a change of heart and prefers an up and coming assistant, they will be stuck with an ex-Head Coach. Mike Smith is not the answer and then you got guys like Doug Marrone and Jim Schwartz who don’t inspire much confidence either. Hue Jackson would be a good choice as he has turned around Andy Dalton. He also did a pretty good job at HC, going 8-8 with a horrible Raiders team only to get fired because Mark Davis is a horrible owner. Jackson like Gase would be the best fit for Tannehill however I expect the Dolphins will go for someone with more experience.
That choice is none other than Mike Shannahan. The Dolphins have now interviewed him twice and of all the ex-Head Coaches, he’s the least worst. Shannahan has shown time and time that he can run a successful offense everywhere he goes and will bring back the running game in Miami. He also runs a scheme very well suited for Tannehill and the offensive line which means they won’t have a massive rebuild. The only problem is he is kind of a control freak and with Tannenbaum in charge, not sure if they will mesh well. The good news if he wanted Ryan Tannehill in the 2012 NFL draft which means he won’t yank him for Matt Moore like some fans want. If the Dolphins want splashy, and Ross likes the big names, Shannahan would be the best fit as long as they get him a good defensive coordinator.