Stephen Ross said the Dolphins are "open to everything" in their search for a new head coach.
"I'd like to find a young Don Shula if that's possible," he said.
Then during the next 14 minutes the Dolphins owner and general manager Jeff Ireland, who will help conduct the search, said they're looking for someone "with experience," someone who is a head coach but not necessarily someone who wants control or final say on personnel matters, and obviously someone who can work with Ireland.
Hmmm. That limits the field more than you might guess, assuming Ross and Ireland can be believed.
Anyway, let's look at some of the certain candidates, possible candidates, and some candidates that are already eliminated:
1. Bill Cowher: I dont see it. He's not going to coach the Miami Dolphins. I spent 40 minutes on the phone with a very plugged-in NFL man today and he tells me there is no way Cowher comes to the Dolphins. Not a fit. Cowher wants to walk into the perfect situation -- which the Dolphins definitely are not -- and he is willing to wait for that situation. Is he great motivator? No doubt. Keith Sims said on my radio show, Armando and the Amigo, today that Cowher was the coach of the AFC team one year he was in the Pro Bowl. Sims said Cowher gave a pregame speech that had the entire squad wanting to play hard. In the Pro Bowl! But he has been out of the game for several years now and one might question his desire to start from the ground up with a team that isn't playoff-ready. I would say this, his philosophy on defense matches the Dolphins 3-4 scheme. But he's a longshot, at best.
2. Jon Gruden: A big name. An offensive mind. He's won the Super Bowl so he knows how to do it. Having said that, he has a reputation of being hard to work with. He has reputation for never being satisfied. That's one reason he always had a dozen quarterbacks in camp but never a truly great one. He likes to think of himself as something of a mastermind. He does know how to push people's buttons and motivate. He might eventually want to get back in the game. But, again, it would have to be the perfect situation. The Dolphins don't seem to be a perfect situation, folks.
3. Brian Billick: I like this possibility. He is offensive minded. He can adjust -- as he did with the Ravens in that he allowed that amazing defense to dictate and dominate the personna of the team. He has a reputation for being able to work with QBs. He hasnt coached in four seasons, since 2007, and one has to wonder why? He's only 57 years old so it's not like he's too old for the game. I don't worry that he hasn't been hired since his last job, I wonder why he hasn't even been considered? Billick has three losing seasons while with the Baltimore Ravens. His last losing season was 2007 when the team went 5-11 and were beaten by the Dolphins for the only victory that team enjoyed all year. I remember that Billick played it safe and decided not to go for a potential game-winning TD on fourth-and-goal from the 1 yard line, opting instead to tie the game with a field goal. The Ravens lost the game in overtime. Not exactly Billick's finest hour.
4. Jeff Fisher: I know, I know, he had only six winning seasons in 17 years. He only had six losing seasons in 17 years as well. He is, what I would call, a solid, solid coach. He's not a genius, but he is very bright. He knows how to motivate. His defenses play with passion, although he like the 4-3 instead of the 3-4 so that might require the retooling of current personnel. He is a favorite of Jerry Jones, so that says something very good for him because Jones knows coaching talent. He has not won the Super Bowl but took his team there in 1999 and lost to the St. Louis Rams "greatest show on turf" team in what was one of the classic endings in the history of the game -- his team fell short of tying the game by one yard. The fact Fisher hasn't won a Super Bowl suggests he'll still be hungry. He didn't step away from the Titans of his own will. He was fired. So I assume he would want to be coaching if he could. Fisher is well-respected around the league. He'd bring instant credibility.
5. Les Miles: He is a Michigan man. Stephen Ross is a Michigan man. Miles is a candidate. He's 58 so he's no puppy, but he seems to be hitting his stride in recent years. He's taken Louisiana State to the top of the college football world and might be quite comfortable staying on that plateau. Or he might be convinced to try to climb higher. Miles has some, but not a lot of NFL experience. He coached under Chan Gailey in Dallas and then stayed on when Dave Campo took over in 2000. So he gets the pro aspects of the game. Miles is not a compulsive person. He is very well-balanced. He doesn't work 21 hours a day and sleep on the couch in his office the other three the week before a big game. He has a family and a family life. This can be both a good and bad thing for an NFL coach.
6. Chip Kelly: He is 48 and regarded as one of the most innovative offensive minds in college football today. The Oregan Duck run an offensive play once every 13 seconds. Can you imagine what that would do to NFL defenses? They would go, pardon the pun, daffy. Oregon is on the NCAA's radar for possible violations relative to a recruiting company. It is not considered major stuff so it's doesn't necessarily mean Kelly would want to exit. But I'm putting it out there because one never knows what folks are thinking. The obvious drawback here is Kelly has never coached in the NFL in any capacity. It would be audacious to even interview him. I love audacious.
7: Rob Chudzinski: He's the offensive coordinator in Carolina. He's been an assistant at the University of Miami, and the offensive coordinator in Cleveland. He also spent time under Norv Turner in San Diego. He will be an NFL head coach some day. And with his fine work in bringing Cam Newton into the NFL game in a relatively short span of time, I would not be surprised if he gets interviews after this season. But are the Dolphins willing to turn over the keys of their franchise to a man with zero head coach experience? I think that's a long shot. Chud, 43, wouldn't be the sexiest hire and wouldn't sell tickets. But he would be interesting.
8. Rob Ryan: God, please, no! Like his brother Rex, the New York Jets coach, Rob is a defense-minded guy. Unlike his brother Rex, Rob's defenses don't inspire any confidence, or intimidation or enough wins. Yes, that was Ryan's defense collapsing in the final moments as Eli Manning rallied the Giants to victory last Sunday night. Ryan, in my estimation, talks a better game than he coaches. NFL people also say he's not as good as good a coach as his brother. Otherwise, he's wonderful.
9. Herman Edwards: The truth is that Ross's non-denial denial of the looming Carl Peterson hire matters in this search. Peterson is definitely helping Ross gather ideas, thoughts, and yes, candidates. Peterson once hired Edwards to coach in Kansas City. It failed. Edwards had previously washed out with the New York Jets. I like Herm. He's very charismatic. He motivates. But I've heard stories of how the New England Patriots coaches snickered at the thought of Edwards matching up with them twice a year back in the day. They apparently believed they had an advantage on Edwards and his staff. That's not the kind of reaction I want for the Dolphins before they play the Pats twice a year.
10. Eric Mangini: Strange bird. But Ross likes him. Birds of a feather? Mangini somehow endeared himself to Ross while he was the New York Jets coach. Ross sees him as something of a Belichick Jr. Ross likes the fact he gave the Patriots a run there for all of about one year. Problem is, Ross just fired a coach who gave the Patriots a run there for all of about one year. Mangini denied it, but I heard he's been speaking with Ross even while Sparano was coach, not undermining Sparano, but certainly adding his two cents. It reeks to me. Mangini is on ESPN currently and that shouldn't play any role in this search, but I fear it does. It gives him a bit of star power. He's seen, known. And Ross likes that. Never mind that he's been fired by the Jets and Browns, didn't have a winning record with either franchise, and his overall 33-47 record is worse than the record of the coach Ross just fired.
The The Wildcards: What if Tom Couglin or Andy Reid get fired? I don't see it, but what if? Both good choices ... Marty Schottenheimer is in play because of the Peterson factor. So is his son Brian, who is the offenisve coordinator with the Jets. But I don't see either because the elder Schotty is 68 years old and is yesterday's news and seems like a putting a band-aid on a deep gash. His son, Brian, will be a head coach someday, but the truth is he's not at the top of the coordinator ladder yet, so how can one ask him to climb the next rung to the head coach level? .... Norv Turner is a fine coordinator but the bloom is off on him as a head coach. He will likely go in San Diego and he isn't coming here. Jack Del Rio? Not interesting and not interested ... Todd Bowles will definitely be interviewed. He's the only candidate we know will get an interview with any certainty. I have no idea what the guy stands for or is about. I do know if he finishes 3-0, people will be clamoring for him to be hired permanently because he will have beaten Bill Belichick and Rex Ryan in back-to-back weeks.
I know I didn't mention the hot OC in Green Bay. I know I didn't mention Dom Capers. I know I didn't mention any really hot assistants. Look, I've been told this hire will be a man with a reputation, a man with experience and a man who people can get excited about. And so I'm going to believe that until I have reason not to.
[Radio announcement that the haters can't stand: I'll be discussing all of this, the apparent looming Peterson hire, and the latest gossip and insider information on my radio show, Armando and the Amigo, this morning 6-10 a.m. You can WATCH the live stream broadcast of the show by clicking the link here. You can also participate as we take phone calls from anywhere in the United States, the greatest country in the history of Earth. The toll free number is 1-888-640-9385.]