The Dolphins have asked and received permission to interview Chargers tight end coach Rob Chudzinski for their vacant offensive coordinator job, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune and that could be the first of a slate of interviews coming in the next couple of days.
The Dolphins have certain openings for offensive coordinator (because Dan Henning and the team parted ways) and quarterbacks coach (because David Lee left for the University of Mississippi). The club may also have one and possibily two more openings on its coaching staff in the coming days, with special teams and the tight ends position being closely reviewed.
Chudzinski is also an offensive coordinator candidate in Carolina, where Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera is expected to be hired as early as Tuesday as the team's new head coach.
Coach Tony Sparano is expected to make a decision on those issues soon. Sparano, however, expects to have Assistant head coach Todd Bowles remain with the staff. Even though Bowles is said to be on the radar for a job in Dallas, a source said Monday that at this time, Sparano expects Bowles to return to Miami.
The search for an offensive coordinator should be an interesting one. It is also expected to include Dallas tight end coach John Garrett, who is a former Dolphins quality control coach who went to Dallas in 2007 and worked on the same staff with Sparano that year.
Garrett's brother, Jason Garrett was recently named head coach of the Cowboys. Jason Garrett also coached with the Dolphins in 2005-2006 and was on the Miami roster as a backup quarterback in 2004.
The fact both Chudzinski, who played in the 1980s at the University of Miami, and Garrett coach tight ends could call into question George DeLeone's status with the Dolphins. DeLeone has coached four years in the NFL while spending most of his career coaching at Temple, Mississippi, Syracuse and Holy Cross.
Other candidates for Miami's vacant offensive coordinator job could emerge.
The Dolphins are rumored to be interested in coaches currently serving on Sean Payton's staff in New Orleans, including offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. Carmichael is the team's offensive coordinator in title but Payton is indeed the play-caller for the Saints.
Sparano and Payton are close friends.
The Dolphins are clearly intending not to stray from the type of offense they have run in the past -- one that follows the lineage of Don Coryell, then Joe Gibbs, Ernie Zampese and Henning. Lately Norv Turner has taken versions of that offense to his various NFL stops including Dallas in the early 1990s, Washington, Miami, and now San Diego.
One supposes whichever offensive coordintor Sparano picks will install his system that springs from the blue-print of those previous coaches but might employ personal tweaks.
Scrapping an offense altogether is a dangerous proposition this year in the NFL. The uncertain labor situation has left open the possibility of an owner's lockout of players. That would mean teams that make changes to their staffs or schemes might not be able to implement those changes on the field with players until a new labor agreement is reached.
And that means the teams installing significant changes will fall behind teams that retain the players, coaches and schemes from the previous season.
The Dolphins expect to make significant changes to the offense beyond the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The club expects to go searching for a new quarterback, at least one new running back and some help along the offensive line and possibly at tight end.
Interestingly, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is apparently giving his input into the kind of offense he wants the Dolphins to run. This despite the fact he has never coached football at any significant level.
"I’ve told Tony that, to me, I want an aggressive, creative (offense), not playing just to keep it close,” Ross said on 940-AM. “Where, people are a little bit more unpredictable, and opening it up. That’s what I think South Florida wants, and that’s what this climate demands."
"We have one great advantage in Florida as the Miami Dolphins, that other teams don’t have, and that’s we have the weather in August, September and October,” Ross added. “Our players are training in that weather, let’s take advantage of it. Let’s go with a hurry-up offense, let’s wear them down. We’ve never done that. This isn’t the north, where you want to just take it 4 yards and a cloud of dust. I think I look for a different brand. Seeing the Dolphins, how fans want to see it, how we win, we’re going downfield, the days of Dan Marino, the days we all want to go back to.”
Interesting on two levels. It was Ross who, in effect, de-clawed Miami's weather advantage by petitioning the NFL the ability to play early season games on the road while playing its early-season home games either at night or the late afternoon.
Ross said he did this so that fans didn't have to sit in the heat of Sun Life Stadium. Unfortunately, the team cannot take advantage of the heat if the owner is getting games changed to times that are relatively cooler.
Also, in the same interview, Ross says he's learned not to "micromanage" the football operations.