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72 posts from January 2012

January 31, 2012

Dolphins continue coach hires, must answer questions

The Dolphins continue putting together a coaching staff these days, with the most recent announcement that George Edwards, who left the Miami a couple of years ago to join the Gators then the Bills, is back with Miami after he was fired in Buffalo.

Also returning to the Dolphins 2012 staff will be tight ends coach Dan Campbell, special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi and strength coach Darren Krein, all three of whom were on Tony Sparano's staff last season.

Zac Taylor, a former graduate assistant and tight ends coach at Texas A&M under Mike Sherman, joins the Dolphins as an assistant quarterbacks coach.

More hires will be announced in the coming days as the staff is still incomplete.

But this much we know of the current staff: On offense, the hiring of Sherman shows a move toward experience and thus a possible upgrade with the hiring of Sherman.

On defense?

Not quite as good.

The Dolphins, as we all know, hired longtime Cincinnati assistant Kevin Coyle to become the defensive coordinator. Coyle is no rookie coach. He's been in the profession 35 years and has been in the NFL 11 seasons, the past nine as Cincinnati's secondary coach.

Coyle also served as the defensive coordinator at Syracuse, Maryland and Fresno State during his career.

But he has never been an NFL defensive coordinator. That is fact. So it will be interesting to see how his running of Miami's switching 3-4/4-3 defense does compares to the work well-regarded and experienced Mike Nolan did the past two seasons.

Nolan was granted his release despite being under contract and left to go to Atlanta -- not because he was advancing, but rather because he was unhappy he was not considered for the Miami head coach position while one defensive assistant -- Todd Bowles -- was a finalist and obviously got an interview. Bowles, by the way, also left to become a secondary coach in Philadelphia.

So the replacing of Nolan with Coyle glows in neon as the big question mark the Dolphins must answer. Nolan had served as the coordinator in Baltimore, Denver as well as head coach at San Francisco when he landed the Dolphins coordinator job in 2010. The Dolphins were sixth in scoring defense, allowing 19.6 points per game a season ago.

The Bengals, by the way, yielded 20.2 points per game and finished ninth in scoring defense.

Coyle faces something of a rebuilding job and does so as a first time NFL coordinator under a first-time NFL head coach.

We'll see.

January 30, 2012

Why Marshall's MVP award in Pro Bowl matters

Brandon Marshall was ballin' late Sunday afternoon.

The Dolphins wide receiver took over the Pro Bowl and scored four touchdowns -- on catches of 74, 29, 47 and 3 yards -- and set a record with six catches for 176 yards.

No biggie, right? It's only the Pro Bowl, right? Nobody cares about the Pro Bowl, right? Do that during the season when it counts, right?

Well, right ... and wrong.

Look, Marshall obviously did his best work in a game that doesn't count, winning the MVP award and making the Dolphins organization look good. And, yes, we all wish he would do this kind of work in games the Dolphins are playing.

But the point I'm making here is this game gave you a view of the possibilities. It showed you what Marshall might look like if he had a Pro Bowl quarterback throwing him the ball every game. Argue all you want that players were going only half-speed, but in that game of players going half-speed, Marshall was still the best player.

Argue he had a Pro Bowl receiver on the other side, helping him, but you must still admit he was the best receiver on the field. And you cannot dismiss the fact every receiver was working against a Pro Bowl secondary. Every one of them.

And in that venue, in that sitiuation, Marshall was still be best receiver in the game.

So I submit that if the Dolphins someday, perhaps in 2012, give Marshall a Pro Bowl quarterback to work with, his work definitely would look better.

How do I know this?

Irving Fryar was mediocre in New England for years and years and he came to Miami to play with Dan Marino and suddenly he was a 1,000-yard receiver. Nat Moore's career was left for dead when he played with Don Strock and David Woodley.

When Marino came on the scene, Moore's career was suddenly revived.

The point I'm making is simple: A better quarterback makes the receiver better. Even Marshall admitted that after the game.

"Since Jay Cutler I've had a few different quarterbacks and being in the Pro Bowl you have these elite quarterbacks and it's all them," he said. "They put [the ball] in the right spots and make it easy for me to make the catch. It's all the quarterbacks."

January 27, 2012

Dolphins concerned about capacity at Sun Life Stadium

The Dolphins visited The Herald offices Friday as part of a tri-county tour of the newspapers serving the region the team claims as its own.

During the meeting with Herald reporters club president Mike Dee, general manager Jeff Ireland and coach Joe Philbin discussed as openly as they felt comfortable issues of interest. The football aspect of the meeting is covered in this story that discusses, among other things, Miami's plan to use both the 3-4 and 4-3 scheme on defense in 2012, according to Philbin.

On non-football matters, Dee took the questions and discussed a coming Super Bowl bid by South Florida, stadium improvements, and other matters. And in discussing the need for stadium improvements, he mentioned the possibility that capacity at Sun Life Stadium needs to be adjusted.

The reason for that is, well, the Dolphins think the place is too big.

"We have the furthest distance from the sidelines with our lower bowl in the NFL," Dee said. "We have the fewest number of seats in that lower seating level between the 20 yard lines, between the goal lines, in the NFL. Not just the facilities that compete for Super Bowls. We've got to fix that ...

"At the same time, we may look to amend capacity in areas where we may have too much. Right now, we have the largest upper deck in the NFL -- 35,000 seats. The next facility in line is 27,000. The Redskins took 10,000 seats out of their upper deck this past year. We're looking at all those things to retrofit the stadium to today's standards."

That creates something of a problem for the Dolphins. And here it is:

The best way, the right way, to fix the capacity issues Dee mentions is through construction and refurbishing Sun Life Stadium. There's nothing like taking seats out of the upper deck that is too big. There's nothing like adding seats in the lower bowl that is not big enough. That is the optimal approach.

But that costs money. And neither the legislature, nor local politicians are volunteering to pay for that. The public would likely vote down a ballot measure for such expenditure. And owner Stephen Ross is in no hurry to spend the multiple millions of dollars it would cost to do the project.

So the reconstruction idea doesn't seem workable.

What's next?

Well, I don't know how the Dolphins would add seats in the lower level without actually adding seats physically, but they can definitely adjust the numbers of seats in the upper deck without actually touching the place. They can simply ask the NFL to consider certain seats basically invisible. The Dolphins can just lower capacity by giving the NFL a new capacity number and then not selling, say 10,000 seats in the upper deck, for at least one season.

Other teams -- Jacksonville for example -- have done it. Unable to fill an extreme number of seats, the Jaguars just threw a tarp over whole sections of seating. The Hurricanes do it at Sun Life for their home games. The Miami Heat did it for a couple of years before LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade on the roster and seating demand skyrocketted.

The Dolphins can simply pick out a section of seats and cover the area. Or they can just black out certain seats or sections from being sold and those would simply be empty on game day.

All of this, by the way, affects you -- the ticket buying customer.

You see, as the Dolphins figure a way to attack this problem, the capacity of the stadium hangs in the balance. If the club is successful in lowering that capacity, either through construction, putting a tarp over sections of seats, or simply blacking out seats electronically, then achieving a sellout becomes easier.

Games are on TV!

You get to watch!

If the Dolphins don't find a way to lower capacity, and the tickets go unsold, the club would have to make a decision whether to rescue local TV-watching fans -- as it did multiple times in 2011 -- by purchasing its own tickets.

I have news for you: The club really doesn't love purchasing its own tickets. No business wants to buy its own product. It is not profitable. And that might lead to a decision not to purchase the unsold tickets. And that means ... no games on TV!

Your Sunday is ruined :(

So the looming decision on how the Dolphins address their stadium capacity issue, particularly in the upper deck, is a big deal to folks who watch the games on TV -- which happens to be a majority of fans. If capacity isn't decreased or ticket sales boom, the club may decide purchasing its own tickets is not a practice it wants to continue.

Blackouts ensue. Not good.

(Oh, one way to solve this without changing capacity? Sign Peyton Manning. Not advocating. Just stating logic.)

January 26, 2012

Rizzi's case for special teams job

Like most assistant coaches on NFL staffs undergoing change, Dolphins special teams coach Darren Rizzi is trying to stay employed. Unlike many of his counterparts, he can present a solid, tangible case for keeping his job based on his unit's 2011 performance.

According to the annual study of the NFL's 32 special teams, done by Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, the Dolphins staged the biggest one-season improvement on special teams from 2010 to 2011, vaulting from 24 a year ago all the way to second under Rizzi.

The Dolphins finished just behind the San Francisco 49'ers in the study that judges 22 elements of the kicking game -- with each element receiving votes from 1 to 32, with the lowest scoring unit accounting for the best score.

The Dolphins finished in the Top 10 in 14 categories and, like the 49ers, their kickers were a strength. Dan Carpenter was 13-of-16 in field goals from 40 yards and beyond and punter Brandon Fields had a net punting average of 41.1 yards.

Four division champions finished in the top 10 in special teams and one of them is headed for the Super Bowl. The AFC champion New England Patriots finished fifth this season in special teams, the New Orleans Saints eighth and the Denver Broncos 10. The NFC champion New York Giants finished 22nd in the kicking game.

Congratulations to Rizzi, Carpenter, Fields and the rest of the Miami special teams unit.

Dolphins closing in on Kevin Coyle as DC, Duffner too

And the defensive coordinator for the Dolphins will beeeeeee ...

Cincinnati assistant Kevin Coyle is the leader in the clubhouse, according to reports by Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Ready and The Herald's Barry Jackson, both of whom are reporting pretty much the same thing: That Coyle is telling people in the Bengals organization he doesn't have the Dolphins DC job locked up, but that it is looking for good.

Coyle represents himself in negotiations so he would know whether things are looking good or not after interviewing for the job today and ostensibly talking to the organization about a contract.

Ready also reports when/if the Coyle deal is sealed, he is likely to bring with him Mark Duffner as the linebacker coach/assistant head coach. Duffner, a veteran of 38 years as a coach, spent the past seven seasons as the Jacksonville linebacker coach. He worked for the Packers and also worked in Cincinnati in 2001-02 as the defensive coordinator.

Kevin Coyle, 56, has spent 11 seasons in Cincinnati, the past nine as the defensive backs coach. From 2003-2010, the Bengals had 150 interceptions, which is fifth most in the NFL during that span.

Dolphins working to land Mike Sherman as OC

Several national news organizations are reporting Greg Schiano is about to be hired as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs.

I am reporting the Dolphins are hoping to then hire former Green Bay and Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman as the team's offensive coordinator. The connection is that Sherman interviewed twice for the Tampa job and obviously is not the hire at this point, leaving him as a viable candidate in Miami.

It is not a done deal at this hour. Sherman will spend time with head coach Joe Philbin at the team's Davie training facility today.

But obviously the prospects of this working are good.

Philbin and Sherman are more than collegues. They're friends. Fact is Sherman was Philbin's English teacher back in Philbin's prep school days in 1979. And obviously, Philbin worked for Sherman when Sherman was in Green Bay.

Would this be a good hire?

Sherman is a solid guy. Imaginative? He's solid. He will run a version of the west coast offense.

If nothing else, the Dolphins will be able to download from Sherman all the information they want on Aggies' quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who started for Sherman.

But the question must be asked how long this hire will last. The fact is Sherman wants to be a head coach again. This is a stepping stone job for him and he'll be looking to get that head coach job ASAP -- probably next year.

So Sherman may be the right guy. But he is definitely also the right now guy.

Assuming no glitches, the hiring of Sherman seals the fate of Brian Daboll as Miami's offensive coodinator.

Question on Manning is whether he'll play at all

The Peyton Manning snowball is reaching avalanche proportions now.

The Colts have cleaned house and it seems as if Manning will be the next to be ushered out the door. The Dolphins and Jets have leaked word they would be interested in Manning. The 49'ers might be interested. The Cardinals might be interested. Manning, in an extensive interview with the Indianapolis Star, seems unhappy with the current state of affairs in Indy.

And a decision on Manning from the Colts, arrived at mutually with Manning, is due prior to March 8 -- the date Manning is due a $28 million bonus that the Colts must decide to pay to retain him or not pay and let him walk.

So Dolphins fans are fired up. They're excited at the prospect of their quarterback-hungry team acquiring one of the all-time best quarerbacks of the modern era.

Stop.

Breathe.

Think.

Before we waste any more news print ... um, well, cyberspace ... on the idea of whether Peyton Manning will come to the Dolphins, let us consider a more fundamental and sobering question:

Will Peyton Manning ever play football again?

The truth is the chances he may never play again are just as high as the ones suggesting he'll ever be in a Dolphins uniform. The truth is Manning has had three neck surgeries in the past 19 months, the latest in September of 2011, and none of those procedures have yet to make him right.

He lost feeling in portions of his throwing arm because one or more of the nerves that feeds into the arm either died or became impinged or simply stopped firing. As a result, the triceps on his throwing arm often felt numb. And it suffered atrophy.

That glorious arm that has thrown for 54,828 yards in 14 seasons? It's broken right now.

Yes, Manning might wake up today and suddenly the surgery meant to regenerate the nerve might suddenly get it firing again. And all will be well with him again. But it might not. And it might not tomorrow or ever for all we know.

Don't believe me. Former Colts president Bill Polian, among those swept out after Indy's 2-14 season along with most of the coaching staff, told ESPN radio this week there is no set course for getting Manning healthy.

"We just don't know. And nobody can tell you," Polian said. "I'll quote Dr. Watkins or at least paraphrase Dr. Watkins, who operated on Peyton back in September: He said there is no potion, there is no known medicine, there is no modality, there is no series of exercises, there is no test and there is no surgery that can predict accurately when a nerve will regenerate. And that is the issue here.

"And from what I understand, as of at least a month ago, progress was on-going and the graph was up but no one can know when and if Peyton's nerve that controls the triceps muscle will regenerate completely and will regenerate enough for him to play. The hope of every doctor -- and we talked to many -- is that it will. The expectation is that it will. When it will, no one can predict.

"It's extremely frustrating for Peyton, I know. And he's a soldier through it better than anyone I've ever seen in my career. But it's on ongoing process. And hopefully for him and his family it's sooner rather than later but nobody can predict it."

Polian went on to call Manning's injury, "the most troubling, most vexing injury situation I've faced in all my years in football."

And that is the player the Dolphins are supposed to bank their short-term future on?

Look, Manning is great. Everyone knows that. If he is healthy by March 8, I would guess the Colts will keep him. If, however, he's healthy and the Colts decide to go another direction simply because Manning is soon to be 36 and they're going in another direction, then obviously the Dolphins should be in the derby to land Manning.

But if he's not healthy? No. Thank. You.

My guess is if March 8 comes around and Manning's nerve still isn't healed, he'll be a man without a team. And then what?

Will he retire? Will he hit free agency?

He might do one just as much as the other. If two months from now he's still hoping for a long dormant nerve to wake up and revive his career, he might have no choice but wait and wait and wait.

He might have no choice but retire.

If Manning wants to continue waiting on a healing, some teams might be willing to wait with him. Others will go about their business and address their quarterback needs other ways. I hope the Dolphins do not sit by and hope and wait on a miracle that may never come.

We'll see what happens.

But until we know what choices Manning has for sure, until we know what he wants to do, talk of him coming to the Dolphins or any other team is premature.

The avalanche needs a plow.

January 25, 2012

Priority would be Manning first, Flynn as fallback

For five days now I've been telling you the Dolphins are on the quarterback hunt -- again.

I told you Saturday that Peyton Manning is a possibility for the team and that he's prominent on the team's radar, assuming he is available and wants to play in 2012. The point was echoed by national and other local news sources Sunday and Monday.

As you know the hiring of Joe Philbin makes Matt Flynn another possibility in the team's chase of a starting franchise quarterback. Philbin was the Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator and is familiar with Flynn, the Packers backup.

But which one is the chief priority?

Is it Manning at age 36? or Flynn who is largely unproven?

A team source e-mailed me this afternoon that the priority is Manning. This coincides with news out of Mobile, Ala., where the Senior Bowl is going to be played Saturday. A league source there tells The Herald's Barry Jackson that the Dolphins have shown no interest in Flynn as of yet -- not even informal interest.

Now, teams are not allowed to show formal interest in soon-to-be free agents at this time. But at those Senior Bowl practices, where agents and team personnel departments mingle on the sideline, it's common for preliminary signs of future interest to be displayed. In fact, it's almost expected.

The Dolphins have shown no such interest in Flynn.

That combined with the e-mail tells me the Dolphins will wait until there is a clear course of action on Manning -- when they know if he's going to be in Indy or on the market, when they know his health -- before they decide what other direction to take.

If Manning is out there, if Flynn is available in free agency, at least we now know the team views Manning as the priority.

Why?

The club believes a healthy Peyton Manning is simply a better gamble than an unproven Matt Flynn. Flynn is younger and will be cheaper (although not by a lot) but clearly the Dolphins are more drawn to the idea of a proven NFL performer -- despite his advancing age and greater risk of his neck injury resurfacing.

Which elite free agent should the Dolphins sign?

Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland declined to share information on the Dolphins salary cap situation when he met with the media Tuesday. Doesn't matter because lack of specifics aside, it is clear the Dolphins cannot be full-blown buyers in free agency when it begins in March.

The Dolphins will not be able to address all of their issues in free agency. Thank God for the draft.

But the Dolphins might be able to address one major issue in free angency. One.

So which one should it be?

Do they sign quarterback Peyton Manning if he's available?

Do they sign defensive end Mario Williams, who is scheduld to hit free agency?

Or do they sign guard Carl Nicks, who NFL people are saying will not be back in New Orleans based on that team's other priorities?

All are elite players when healthy. All could be available. Which one do you sign and why? Please take into account how much demand will address the availability of each player in your answer.

January 24, 2012

Jeff Ireland speaks from Senior Bowl

Jeff Ireland just spoke to the media in Mobile, Alabama, site of the Senior Bowl, and explained in detail the Dolphins' offseason plans for the quarterback position, confirmed the cap space amount the club has to work with, and gave up the name of the player Miami will draft in the first round of the April draft ...

... Actually, he didn't, but I just wanted to see how it felt to write that sentence.

Truth is the session, attended by The Herald's Barry Jackson, revealed precious little we didn't already know. It began with Ireland repeating something every Dolphins fan has known since January of 2000.

"We need a quarterback that can lead us over the hump," he said. "This is a quarterback league. We have to do our best to make our position better."

Ireland praised 2011 starter Matt Moore's toughness, but the inference was clearly made that Miami wants to upgrade from him in 2012. If Miami needs the QB to lead the team over the hump, it obviously does not have the QB to lead the team over the top.

Moore, however, remains under contract for 2012.

The truth is the Dolphins have to get better all up and down the roster. And Ireland recognizes that.

"We're 6-10, we've got to do a better job of putting wins together," he said. "We've got to build a roster to be better than good. Good is not good enough. We want championships. Are we rebuilding? I don't believe so. I like some core pieces of this roster."

I would imagine Ireland knows what kind of offensive and defensive talent he's searching for. On defense that might include personnel for the 4-3 scheme, which the Dolphins used a lot in pass situations last season anyway, but is also a scheme the team might go to as a base look in 2012.

Ireland said he told his scouts to start looking at 4-3 personnel in case Miami goes there.

"If we have to go to a 4-3, we have the personnel to make the transition," Ireland said. "We have to add pieces."

As a personal aside, I believe the Dolphins will use their first-round pick on a pass rusher. Quinton Coples of North Carolina is a player the Dolphins are heavily scrutinizing at the Senior Bowl. The Dolphins desperately need a pass rusher to add on the side opposite Cameron Wake.

That is not where Miami's needs end. Ireland said he would love to add an "explosive" tight end.

The team needs to rebuild the entire right side of the offensive line because Marc Colombo is clearly not the answer at right tackle and right guard Vernon Carey is a free agent.

John Jerry is a possibility at either right guard or tackle.

"John has come a long way," Ireland said. "He has a long way to go."

Ireland said he is still looking forward to seeing what Lydon Murtha can do.

There will be a couple of cornerback prospects worthy or selecting high in the draft and Ireland is not showing his hand in that regard. But it's clear he's not giving up on Sean Smith and Vontae Davis.

"I believe in Sean," Ireland said. "They [Smith and Davis[ have got to take another step in the right direction."

Deeper in the secondary, Ireland praised Reshad Jones, Chris Clemon and Tyrone Culver, but noted, "I don't think we got our hands on enough balls."

New coach Joe Philbin will revamp the offense but don't expect much work done at running back. Reggie Bush has a year left on his contract and Daniel Thomas will be in his second season.

"Daniel Thomas will be a fine player," Ireland said. "He has got to stay healthy."

Ireland said he would like to keep unrestricted free agents Kendall Langford and Paul Soliai. But neither is signed and it is improbable the club with be able to keep both and still find a pass rusher.

January 23, 2012

Source: Bowles return to Dolphins unlikely

Joe Philbin is about the business of hiring a coaching staff right now. And while many of Miami's assistant coaches are excellent at what they do and the club denied some of them permission to interview with other clubs the past two weeks, their chances of staying seem slim now.

Philbin talked to interim head coach Todd Bowles Sunday and the message didn't exactly suggest the new coach is eager to retain Bowles. In fact, a source close to Bowles just told me the club's secondary/assistant head coach/interim head coach will not return to the Dolphins.

Obviously this can change at the last minute -- just google Chip Kelly. But Bowles is not in Mobile, Ala. for the Senior Bowl representing the team and he was told to feel free to search for other opportunities if he likes.

Bowles and Philbin are scheduled to speak again on Wednesday to finalize the plan for the assistant, but the source tells me the vibe when Philbin and Bowles talked last time was he was told he's free to find another job and Philbin would not hold him back.

The Wednesday meeting, meanwhile, is not expected to be anything formal. It's supposed to be a phone call, unless Philbin changes his mind between now and then.

Bowles, meanwhile, is going to do exactly what he was told: He has one year remaining with on his Dolphins contract. But he's going to search for opportunities elsewhere.

He's not alone. Philbin is setting a course to revamp the Miami offensive staff. I was told not to expect too many coaches to be retained from that offensive staff.

One coach who is not expected to be retained is offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo. Philbin, a former offensive line coach, wants to instill his way of doing things and he obviouslyy wants his people. He has already reportedly reached out to Jacksonville offensive line coach Andy Heck. Googs, as he is affectionately called in the building, is headed to the New York Jets with longtime friend Tony Sparano, according to a league source.

[Update: The Florida Times Union is reporting the Jaguars are retaining Heck.]

Wide receiver coach Steve Bush also leaving the Miami staff, according to a source in the agent industry. Assistant wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard's status is uncertain, according to the same source.

[Update: Hilliard has been hired by the Washington Redskins, that team announced today.]

Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll had feelers from other teams after the regular season. The Dolphins denied him permission to interview elsewhere, according to a source. While his fate in Miami has not been sealed, it is a long shot he will return to the staff, according to a source.

Daboll may wind up in either Kansas City or with the New York Jets.

A source close to linebacker coach Bill Sheridan also tells me he'll be leaving the Dolphins. Sheridan was with the team two seasons.

January 21, 2012

The press conference start to finish

The Dolphins turned another page in their team history book Saturday. They hired Joe Philbin. He was there along with his handsome family. General Manager Jeff Ireland was there. Club owner Stephen Ross was there.

This is what they said.

All of it:

Stephen Ross: “Good afternoon. I’m Steve Ross for those of you who don’t know me. I really wish you a good day and happy that you’re here. I am also happy that this search that we had is over and more important I am happier for the person we selected to be the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. As we told you initially that we would have a thorough, incursive, and totally transparent search process and that’s what we have done. I especially want to thank Jeff Ireland and his staff for all the work that they’ve done before we started this search and the research that they’ve done and for the work that they’ve done in the process and the plan that we followed. We interviewed six people in person. Many who will eventually be head coaches in the National Football League. I want to thank all those six individuals. They were all outstanding candidates and with the exception of one, they were all excited about wanting to join and lead the Miami Dolphins. We narrowed the list down to three people. We interviewed those three people in New York. After these interviews, we felt that each one of them would be an outstanding head coach. But in the end, we felt that Joe Philbin was the right person to lead the Miami Dolphins at this time. Joe, I believe, has a lot of the same attributes that the most successful coach that the Miami Dolphins had in the past, Don Shula. As I mentioned to you, those are the types of attributes I was looking for in selecting a head coach for the Dolphins. His intelligence stands out. He has a winning background, which I think is so important. His leadership skills that we found out were unparalleled. He’s a man with integrity. He has a tremendous work ethic. He has a commitment to excellence and he has a tremendous, innovated ideas. In addition, you can’t help but be impressed by Joe’s accomplishments in the past. The track record of the Green Bay Packers is unparalleled. Not only he has a history of developing a productive offense, but he also developing players to work within that system. We appreciate the interest of all our fans and the input that they given us. And I know they are looking forward and we’re looking forward to their continuous support of our fans. I guess I can sum it up is Diane Philbin told me when I first met her today. She said something I took to heart. You hired Joe to win because that is what he’s all about and I think that really sums it up.”

Jeff Ireland Opening Statement:

“I just want to go through the search process. Before I do that, I would like to welcome the Philbin family here and we so glad to have you part of our Dolphin family. Also, I would like to thank Steve (Ross) for making the commitment in finding the right football coach for this franchise. He was involved in every aspect from the interviews, to the evaluations and to making the final decision. We put a plan together and we stuck to the plan. We covered a lot of ground. The plan included a number of head coaching candidates through the NFL, video process, we considered college head coaching candidates as well as those with NFL head coaching backgrounds. It included candidates’ with backgrounds in all phases of the game coaches with different skill sets on offense and defense. We even looked outside the box. We looked at the John Harbaugh model, which has been established and very successful with the Dave Toub interviewed. We did an extensive amount of background search on every candidate. We looked behind the scenes. It was a lot of behind the scenes work that went through this process. A lot of different resources that were used, a lot of different people Steve used and I used, reached out to a lot of people that knew Coach Philbin and the other candidates that were involved. We concluded a thorough search by meeting the three finalists this last week in New York for a second interview. We took time to further evaluate their plan, their vision. And we conclude that each of those guys were going to be a great football coach. We were going to have a good football coach regardless, but we wanted to coupled that with a unquestioned leader of men, an unquestioned amount of high integrity and one that had a plan and a vision that would continue to utilize the foundation of personnel that is here on this football team and one that has a creative mind to take us to new heights. Joe Philbin best fits that description. Joe and I have very similar philosophies regarding on what it takes to be successful in this NFL. He has experience winning a Super Bowl and he did a big part in developing a roster through fundamentals and technique and those, I think, are imperative to building a consistent winner in the National Football League. He’s a leader, a man with high character one that embodies a spirit of a winner. All those intangibles Steve and I thought were important for this football team. So without further ado, I would like to bring up the next head coach of the Miami Dolphins, Joe Philbin.

Joe Philbin Opening Statement:

“I want to thank Mr. Ross and Jeff Ireland for providing me with the opportunity to be the head football coach of the Miami Dolphins. It’s a privilege to be entrusted with one of the premier franchises in all of professional sports. In our discussions over the last two weeks it became evident to me of Mr. Ross’ desire to build a first-class organization in every respect; one that I am honored to join today. The Dolphins have a rich and storied past as well as a bright, unlimited future. I want to take a moment to thank those who have helped me get to this particular point in my career, specifically my high school coaches, whose example inspired me to enter the coaching profession as well as the 12 head coaches, hundreds of assistant coaches and players whose friendship and wisdom I have benefited from. In the last nine years the Green Bay Packer organization has been like family to me and I want to wish them the best of luck going forward. Most importantly, I want to thank my family -- parents, siblings, and my immediate family, including my wife Diane, and my children Matthew, Michael, John, Kevin, Tim, and Colleen, whose sacrifices have not gone unnoticed to me. Today we are embarking on a journey to return this team back to the top of the NFL; a feat that hasn’t been accomplished here in almost 40 years. We will attack the voyage with passion, energy, and enthusiasm in our quest to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to South Florida. To accomplish this, we must acquire excellent football players who are men of high character that possess an insatiable will to succeed. We then must develop them into a team that performs at an extremely high level on a consistent basis. Our team will consist of men who care more about winning and their teammates than they do about individual statistics. We will incorporate an aggressive, up-tempo attack in all three phases of the game. Our style of play will be built upon the precise execution of fundamentals. Our team will play with discipline, poise, and maximum effort. Our organization will become known for its commitment to provide the resources necessary to allow each player and staff member the ability to reach their full potential. This level of support will enable our team to enjoy unparalleled success on the field while also impacting our city and fan base in a positive manner by our humility and unselfishness off it.”

Questions for Joe Philbin:

(On how will you select your offensive and defensive coordinators) - “Well, I told Steve (Ross) and Jeff (Ireland) in the interview process I’m 50 years old. I anticipated this being the last job I ever take. This is my first head coaching opportunity and the most part of phase one of the head coaches’ responsibility is hiring a staff so I’m going to be hiring our offensive, our defensive, our special team coordinator, our offensive line coach, our quality control coaches on down the line. At this point and time, obviously we have some candidates in mind; however, we haven’t made any decisions on who those people are. And as we move forward in the process, we’ll be making those decisions.”

(On running the West Coast offense here similar to the offense ran in Green Bay) -“Well, as I was saying earlier in the day, I’ve been in the West Coast system for nine years and I’m still not exactly sure what that means. With that being said, I think it’s a mistake to just take the Green Bay Packers playbook and plop it out on the table here in South Florida. So one of the things in coaching, one of your responsibilities in coaching is to put your players in the best position to succeed. So we got to learn more about our players and learn what they do well. We got to hide what they don’t do as well, extenuated the positives. Again, as we start to build our staff, as we evaluate the roster, as we look at their unique talents and abilities we’ll start formulating a plan. There are certain characteristics obviously of the offense that’s going to come down here, but I don’t want to say that we’re just going to take the playbook, copy it, and change Green Bay to Miami and move forward like that.”

(On how much did your vision involve around a quarterback) -“We’re going to build a football team, number one. I think obviously the play and performance of a quarterback in the National Football League is obviously very important. One of the things I believe in strongly when you analyze your football team is that you have to look at the quarterback rating differential. So how your guy is performing as oppose to the opposition. So it’s certainly a key component in winning football games. But the focus wasn’t on one individual or one player. I don’t necessarily buy into the one player away mentality in anywhere I’ve ever coached at any level. I think you build a team. In this league, it’s about the 53 players, eight practice squad players, your staff, you’re building a team. Obviously, we got to have good performance out of our quarterback. Any good offense, especially in this league, has to have good quarterback play, which we will. But it wasn’t a necessary over riding thing.”

(On why do you believe you’ll be successful) -“Well, I feel very confident in the preparation. I had Anne (Rodriguez), my secretary, pop up July 5, 1984. And that was the day I began in the coaching profession. It’s been 10,061 days that I’ve been at this. I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of good people. I’ve learned from every 12 different head coaches, 100 assistant coaches I’ve been around. And I figure if you look at the body of work at every different level of football I’ve been fortunate to be around winning programs, places where we develop players. We develop men. We had good teams and I’m just confident we’ll be able to build the same thing here in Miami.”

(On what does the Miami Dolphins need most): “We got to build a team. There’s not one area necessarily. I’m not going to sit here and tell you we got to better at red zone defense or our third down offense conversion rate has to be better. Or we got to operate versus pressure better. We’re just building, I’m just kind of getting my feet wet sort of speak with the roster. I got a lot of work to do in terms of looking at what we do best. What our strengths are what our weaknesses are and together with the personnel, with the coaching come together, collaborate, find out the things we need to improve and get better and start building a team that way.”

(On how do you interact with players and do you model your style after anyone) - “I’ve always had a great relationship with players that wanted to be great players. I think one of the first attributes you look for when you identify prospective players is passion for the game. It’s much easier to coach, to motivate, to develop a player that has a real strong desire to be good. And I’ve always got along well with the guys that are very passionate about the profession that I’m involved in. I love my job. I love working with players helping them reach their potential. And I’ve always had good success matching up those kinds of people. The relationship I’ve had some people say I’m a player’s coach. Our teaching philosophy, our relationship with the players is going to be. We are going to be demanding, not demeaning. So we’re going to coach these guys extremely hard, very detailed oriented. We’re going to be thorough. We’re not going to leave any stone unturned in our quest in helping these guys develop and get better. And at the same time, we want to enjoy the relationships and enjoy the ride while we’re doing it.”

(On whether you’ll call offensive plays or will you’re offensive coordinator call plays) - “Again, that’ll be determined as the staff gets filled out. I would like to see happen is let our offensive coordinator the call plays. But that again, that’ll be determined as we move forward based on who that is and how the structure of the staff fills out.”

(On making the transition from assistant to head coach and what needs to happen in order to be successful) - “Well, number one, first I would have to say is the great trust that Mr. (Stephen) Ross and Jeff (Ireland) have placed in me. When I was a young coach starting out, one of my bosses handed me a little sheet, I told this to Mr. Ross and Jeff that every player deserves a coach that believes in him. Every head coach deserves an owner and a general manager that believes in him. You got to have faith in the people you hire and when I stand in front of the Miami Dolphins in 2012, the 53 guys and the 46 that’s going to dress. You better have confidence in those guys. You better believe in those players. And I have a lot of faith in what I’m capable of doing. And I’m very grateful to the faith that Mr. Ross and Jeff have place in me.”

(On who were your biggest influences) - “Well, the biggest influence I probably had was when I went to Worchester Academy in the Fall of 1979 and one of my classmates, my next door neighbor, State Senator (Jack) Hart from South Boston is over here today with my family. But there I was fortunate to be coached by Kirk Ferentz, who some of you guys know the head coach of the University of Iowa. Mike Sherman, who was the head coach at Texas A&M most recently, but was also the man responsible that gave me the opportunity to coach in the National Football League. Ken O’Keefe, the offensive coordinator at the University of Iowa. I worked with all three of those men at different places along the way. I worked with Coach O’Keefe at Allegheny College. We won a National Championship. I worked with Coach Ferentz at the University of Iowa. We were fortunate to win the only time in Iowa history that went undefeated in the Big Ten Conference. And then I worked with Coach Sherman where we won two division championships up in Green Bay. That was probably the most impactful year that I had and those were some of the men that inspired me in the coaching profession. And obviously, my last six years with Coach (Mike) McCarthy in Green Bay have been fantastic. He’s an excellent football coach and a great human being so that’s been a great experience for me as well.”

(On what do you think made you the person for the head coaching position) - “I think they’re better to answer that, but I think I thought we had a good chemistry between us. There was a good fit. When I left the facility I guess it was two weeks ago today. I just felt very comfortable. I felt very good about these guys. I felt very strong about the commitment Mr. (Stephen) Ross, the resources he’s going to commit. The passion that he has to win and felt really good about meeting with Jeff (Ireland) and I thought we were very compatible working together, his work ethic, his professionalism. I felt very good about that when I left. I didn’t know exactly where I fit on the whole top to bottom on the poll. I didn’t really care, but I knew when I was flying home I felt very, very good about our first meeting.”

(On how long will it take to win again) - “Well, we didn’t talk about when the three of us sat down together. What we really talked about I think Mr. (Stephen) Ross use this term in his other businesses is he wants to be best in class. He wants to build championship organizations whether it will be professional football or the other endeavors he’s involved in and so we didn’t sit down and say ok in 2012 we’re going to win six games, in 13(2013) we’re going to win 12, and 14 (2014) we’re going to win seven. Football is not built that way. It’s tough to predict, but what we talked about was building a foundation, building a program, building a football team that could deliver, sustained success over a period of time. And I’ve coached in the National Football League for nine years and college for 19. I don’t know if you ever go into a game where you don’t feel like you have a chance to win. So our focus is going to be that week the focus is going to be on the New York Jets, or the Buffalo Bills, or the Indianapolis Colts or whoever we may be playing in that particular week. We got a lot of work to do. We’re not going to sit around and put raw numbers in February or March or August for that matter with our players. We’re going to be about focusing on the task at hand. We’re going to be a developmental team. We’re going to get better week-to-week and year-to-year.”

(On how did you handle your personal situation) - “Yeah, it was obviously heartbreaking. As you said, I flew home from Miami two weeks ago. It was 30,000 feet in the air. I felt great about things. Obviously, as a family we have endured a heartbreaking loss and to be honest with you we had a beautiful service on Friday, a week ago, about eight days ago, phenomenal. We got 60 immediate family members. Just a tremendous out pouring from the community, former players, former colleagues can’t tell how touch we were as a family. And then I coached in the game on Sunday. And still can’t that believe that Mr. (Stephen) Ross and Jeff (Ireland) called me back after how poorly we played (laughing). But I was dejected. I came home Sunday night and really the TV haven’t been on in our house for a week. The Miami Dolphins maybe have hired a coach, I had no idea. And I walked down and I was talking to my son, Tim, and I saw he was kind of dejected and he asked me, ‘Dad what are the Miami Dolphins doing?’ And I said I have no idea what they’re doing. You’re going to go after the job are you? I said I don’t know what I’m going to do. I was dejected on a lot of different fronts. He looked at me and said, ‘You better go after that job. Your son, Mike, would want you to go after that job.’ And so that was kind of the start of me kind of getting back, get moving again.”

(On the transition from Green Bay to Miami) -“We’re like the Griswolds. I mean, my son John flew in from Philadelphia. Someone from the Dolphins had to pick him up. Diane’s sister is coming later on a different flight. We were going to put her on the toilet on the plane, but they wouldn’t let us (laughing) so we’re an all in family. We put our heart and soul in what we do. We’re not perfect. We’re excited as we could be in coming to South Florida and getting involved in the community and really anxious. We’re going to get them down here real soon. On a normal year, I would stay here and work until July and the kids would come next year in school, but we’re going to get them down here and immersed in the community as quickly as we possibility can.”

(On which defensive scheme, 3-4 or 4-3) -“Defensively, the vision of the defense would be based on fundamentals and technique. I want to be known for a great tackling team. I want us to have the best pursuit in the National Football League. I want us to take the ball away from our opponent. And I want us to put pressure and disrupt the quarterback. The rhythm and the timing of the quarterback, that’s the vision of our defense. What you’re going to learn from me is that I believe in fundamentals, execution, discipline are primary, schemes are secondary. We’re going to take a look again as I said we’re going to study the roster. We’re going to study what we do well. We’re going to look at possibilities. We’re going to hire the best leader of men, the best teacher, the best communicator, the best motivator that we can find to be our defensive coordinator and it’s going to be a collaborative effort. It’s not going to be one individual’s defense. It’s going to be the Miami Dolphins defense.”

(On what message do you give fans) -“Well, just kind of what I said in my opening statement. I don’t think football is an overly complicated game. As the offensive coordinator in Green Bay, we use to stand up in front of the offense and ask them if they could count to four, because if you could count to four you could play in the Packer offense. Football is a people game still. The objective is obviously we’re all chasing the same prize. Everybody wants to bring the Lombardi trophy back to their particular city or their particular fan base. But I think we have to stay focus on, we have to get excellent football players, high character individuals, and men that have a strong, strong will to succeed. That’s the plan. When you get those kinds of individuals, we get a staff in here that’s going to teach with enthusiasm, with clarity with simplicity and accuracy and we’re going to be able to accomplish some great things together.”

Questions for Stephen Ross:

(On why did you select Joe Philbin) - “Well, I think you just heard Joe (Philbin) and I think you can kind of make your own decision. I think he really impressed me just listening to him, his organization, his plan, how he would execute it and make us a winner as fast as possible. I really believe that people that work in great winning organizations learn how to win and that’s what it’s all about. That’s the primary reason and who he is as a person and what he’ll do for this organization the reasons why Joe Philbin is the coach of the Miami Dolphins.”

(On Joe Philbin bring the Packer mentality to Miami) - “I don’t know. Right now, we don’t have any Packers on our roster. We’re not allowed to talk about that. That wasn’t the reason. We didn’t spend a lot of time about that. We talked about creating a winning football team and it’s not just one person that’s going to make us a winning football team.”

(On how involved was Carl Peterson in the interview process) - “Carl (Peterson) is a friend of mine, been an advisor for a long period of time. He sat in all the meetings with the various candidates and we got his perspective. But the decision was made by myself working with Jeff Ireland.”

(On what were you looking for in the second interview process) - “Well, I mean, I thing I found out, never have been at it before and hopefully wouldn’t have to go through it again, but when you speak to six different candidates and at the end of the day you kind of reflect. It kind of all runs in together how to differentiating who said what. You know who impressed you, but it wasn’t the specifics. So we wanted to really be fresh because usually in those cases the last person you meet with is the guy you’re going to hire. So I wanted to meet them all at one time that in a short period of time and go through some of those questions again, hear them, and have that follow up with them and so you can really make a decision then on what you heard and you really had those thoughts in your mind.”

(On if how Joe Philbin handled his personal situation influence your decision) - “I mean, you certainly have to admire Joe (Philbin) is a very strong person that came out in the first process and my heart goes out to him having gone through what he’s gone through, but I mean I think you find out what a person is all about in times like that and the stress that he went through. So I think he’s still going to have a lot of problems going through that, but I think he’s a strong person. He’s a family person and he has a lot to look forward too. And I think this opportunity and probably this change of scenery is great for him.”

(On how difficult was hiring a head coach compared to your other businesses and what have you learned) - “In football, one thing I found out early on, football is a lot different than business. The differential of winning and losing is so small. And it’s really, business is a question of detail is just as much. But I think the idea of winning and winning in such a define moment is something you really have to know what that’s all about. It was really important to me that one of the aspects is that you’re used to winning and you expect to win and you’ve shown you’ve been a winner. I don’t think any of our candidates showed it like Joe Philbin.”

(On this decision being the most important decision you’ve made) - “Every time I make a decision, that’s the most important decision at that time so this was the most important. But in terms of the Miami Dolphins I know this is probably the most important decision. We spent an awful lot of time talking about the pros and cons of each individual and we really believed at the end of the day nobody was really, really more capable of doing this job and bringing the Miami Dolphins back to being a winning organization than Joe Philbin.”

Question to Jeff Ireland:

(On what stood out from the interview with Joe Philbin) – “Well I think after our first meeting, I knew about 15 minutes into the interview this was a guy that we should seriously take a look at, his vision, his core beliefs, his principles that he believes in, a lot of the objectives that were so apart of what Joe Philbin is all about, his passion for it obviously. You do a lot of due diligence going into a coaching search, a lot of phone calls to people around this business. This is a big fraternity of people that know people and that’s the one thing going through this process that I learned about Joe Philbin, there is not one person out there that doesn’t respect this person, not only as a coach but as a person. But it was those core beliefs, the beliefs that I believe in, the fundamentals, the technique, details. Being aggressive. Some of the things he talked about his offense being tempo related. Obviously looking at an offense that he produced very low turnovers, things that were keys to success with the Green Bay Packers, those were all things that were key to making this decision.”

(On if Joe Philbin will have final say on the coordinators) – “100 percent. Joe Philbin has total authority to hire his coaches.”

(On what type of team Joe Philbin is inheriting based on what he built) – “Well, I think he is inheriting a good football team. Doesn’t reflect in the wins and losses, but I think there is some foundation, some pieces here that he can work with. Obviously we are going through a new coach process, so there are some pieces that are missing. That falls on me to help get him get those pieces and I am a scout at heart, I am going to go find players for the head coach. That’s what my job is going to be, that is my ultimate job for this head coach, is to eliminate distractions from him and let him coach the football team and I have to fins football players for him.”

(On how much continuity he is looking for in terms of the coaches) – “That’s Joe Philbin’s job. He’s going to decide on the coaches, I am sure he has a process that he has in mind, were going to discuss that here, we discussed that thoroughly through the process. I am sure that he wants to talk to a few guys on this staff, he’ll probably talk to every coach on this staff. But ultimately its Joe’s decision on what offense he wants to run, what defense he wants to run, but that Joe Philbin’s job.”

(On how much of Joe Philbin’s experience with quarterbacks impact the decision) – “We talked about pretty much, we talked about corners, we talked about outside linebackers, we talked about quarterbacks, we talked a lot about the offensive line. But it was Joe’s vision and his core beliefs and his overall values about and vision for building a football team that was most important with this hire.”

(On if there was ever a moment where you and Mr. Ross didn’t agree during the coaching search process) – “These are tough decisions and Mr. Ross and I we went through plenty of debates in this process. Ultimately we found the right guy and that was a collaborative effort between Steve and I, we had Carl’s help, Dawn Aponte was a part of the process. Like I said, we went through a very thorough process and ultimately it was Steve and I sitting down together and making this decision.”

(On if there will be an open competition for the starting quarterback position) – “That’s Joe Philbin’s job, he’s going to decide who we have as a quarterback, so I can tell you that we are going to try to find players for this man here and give him the best chance to lead this franchise into new heights and a new era.”

Philbin's packet impressed everyone

Jeff Ireland said that 15 minutes into Joe Philbin's first interview, he knew the Dolphins were onto something. Stephen Ross said after his interview he talked to Carl Peterson, his long-time friend and adviser, and Peterson told him it was the best presentation by a coach he'd ever seen.

Yeah, Joe Philbin apparently had the Dolphins at hello. Or at least that's the narrative today.

So how did Philbin do it?

“I put together a packet of information that I really started working on in 2009 maybe," he told me Saturday. "And I’ve been amending it and adjusting it and tweaking it for the last couple of years. But I had things ready to go in case an opportunity would have presented itself. I had really worked on it hard in the summer. Obviously I don’t have a lot of time to work on it during the season. It’s been brewing for a while.”

The packet, which Ross indicated is about an inch or two thick, is meant to show teams what Philbin is about. It speaks of Philbin's history, his philosophy …

“Yeah, expectations, values, things in my core belief, base philosophy," he said. "It’s not how we’re going to attack Cover 2 but how we’re going to run an offense. What kind of system we envision running. Are we going to be a multiple formation team. Are we going to be a no-huddle team, things along those lines. More broad based.”

After the interview, Philbin was happy with his performance. He said he got on a plane home and felt like he was flying at 30,000 feet -- plane or not.

“I though it went well, I really did," he said. "When I flew home I thought it went very well. And I thought we got along well, also. Mr. Ross and I, the first time we sat down, just the two of us for well over an hour. And we kicked around a lot of things and talked about the things he had done in his career. I thought it was good.”

Dolphins refute Bowles was pushed on McCoy

I arrived at Dolphins camp for the Joe Philbin presser early and, within minutes of being here, I was pulled aside by team people who wanted to deliver a message:

General Manager Jeff Ireland read the post on Mike McCoy and Todd Bowles and wanted the message to reach me that he denies the Dolphins would push an assistant on a head coach.

Further, I was told that it was the Dolphins' view that McCoy was actually enthusiastic about talking to Bowles and possibly hiring Bowles as his defensive coordinator.

And so now I'm in the twilight zone because on the one hand, I'm told by people extremely close and familiar with McCoy that he did not want to necessarily hire Bowles for reasons explained in the last post 

And on the other hand, the Dolphins are saying their understanding is that McCoy loved the idea of hiring Todd Bowles as the defensive coordinator.

This feels like a Jeff Fisher replay where Fisher's view of his meetings with the team and the team's view of the same meetings were completely at odds.

Bowles as DC might have worked against McCoy

At 4 p.m. today the Dolphins will introduce Joe Philbin as their new head coach and one assumes they'll explain why they picked the former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator. That will be interesting.

Before that happens, let me take a moment to tell you why the Dolphins may not have picked Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

McCoy, as I reported earlier in this space, was confident he was going to get the Dolphins job. At 39 years old, he was the only one of the finalists that fit into Stephen Ross's desire to hire "a young Don Shula."

But that's not the reason McCoy was so confident. Turns out he was reading signs from the team. He gauged their enthusiasm following his first meeting with them Monday. And he was even more confident after flying to New York for a Thursday interview because that went a full eight hours -- nine hours if you count the meal -- and afterward general manager Jeff Ireland told McCoy that if things went as expected, the team would send a plane for McCoy and the family to bring them from Denver back to South Florida on Friday.

But it never got to that point and McCoy thinks he knows the reason.

Seems during the McCoy interview, the topic of defensive coordinator came up. And the Dolphins told McCoy they really liked Todd Bowles and would like him to hire Bowles as the defensive coordinator.

This is interesting on many fronts because it suggests the team at the time already knew Bowles was not going to be selected as the head coach and was already planning another job for him. It's also interesting because as of late last night, the club had not told Bowles anything about becoming defensive coordinator. I'm told the only conversation between Bowles and Ireland Friday night was when the GM told the interim coach the Dolphins were hiring Philbin. It is also interesting in that it means the Dolphins were assuming Bowles, who is interviewing for other head coaching jobs, would not get any of those jobs.

At any rate, McCoy didn't agree to hiring Bowles as his defensive coordinator. He told the Dolphins that as a first time head coach, and an offensive-minded coach at that, he'd like to hire an experienced defensive coordinator. He told the Dolphins he'd like someone that had done the job and succeeded in the job previously so he could concentrate more on upgrading the Miami offense.

Todd Bowles, you must understand, has never been a defensive coordinator.

But the Dolphins insisted. And McCoy pushed back.

The Dolphins spoke of how well-regarded Bowles is and McCoy made the point that it is irregular to force an assistant on a new coach when that assistant just lost a job derby to the new head coach and that assistant is not experienced in the job the team wants him to carry out. It can be uncomfortable for all parties.

It wasn't contentious. But McCoy had definite ideas about people he'd like to interview for the job. And the Dolphins -- once they found out from McCoy that Steve Spagnuolo was already hired elsewhere -- had definite ideas about Bowles.

Ultimately, McCoy told the team he would be more than happy to include Bowles in the interview process for a defensive coordinator. He'd be happy to meet Bowles. But he declined to make any promises to hire Bowles.

Obviously, the club went with Philbin as the new head coach. They began talking to Philbin late into the evening Thursday and reached a deal with him Friday afternoon.

Now, I am not telling you the defensive coordinator issue is the reason McCoy was eliminated. I am telling you that's the reason McCoy thinks he didn't get the job.

The truest test of this will be seeing whom Philbin "hires" as his defensive coordinator. He's got a ton of coaching talent in Green Bay that he can draw from as a possible DC candidates. And he should have his own people and be comfortable with them if he wants. He's never worked with Bowles and, far as I know, didn't have Bowles in his plans when he began the interview process.

But if Todd Bowles becomes the Dolphins next defensive coordinator under Joe Philbin, you'll know this was indeed a tipping point in the McCoy interview. You'll know that perhaps the reason the team picked Philbin over McCoy was Philbin's willingness to meet Miami's desires to hire Bowles where McCoy wanted to hire his own people.

We'll see.

Follow me on twitter. I will be providing real-time updates of the Philbin presser on my timeline today.

Philbin's desire to be Miami's coach already a plus

I don't know what kind of coach Joe Philbin will turn out to be. I don't know if he'll be a success. I don't know if he'll ever get his team to the playoffs or Super Bowl. I do know he wants to be the Dolphins coach. He's excited about the idea. He is eager and sees this as his career's grandest opportunity even, as I write in my column today, following a terrible personal tragedy.

(Please read the column.)

And yet, with all the uncertainty, Philbin is already better than what the Dolphins have gotten in the past in one regard.

He is better than what Miami might have gotten out of Jeff Fisher in one regard.

"I have seen how much the fans in South Florida care about the Dolphins, and that passion is one reason why I’m really excited to be here," Philbin said in a statement. "I’m looking forward to their support, and I can’t wait to get started.”

It's important that Phibin is so fired up about the idea of taking over the Dolphins because I've covered too many Dolphins coaches who weren't really into the idea. You will remember that in January of 1999, Jimmy Johnson no longer wanted to coach the Dolphins and actually walked away from the Dolphins.

Then owner Wayne Huizenga begged him, convinced him to return to the team for the 1999 season. Johnson was miserable. It was a nightmare. Bad idea.

Fast forward to Nick Saban. He had it good at LSU. He loved it there because he was a hero and a national champion. But Huizenga convinced him to take the Dolphins job -- even after Saban reportedly changed his mind about coming. Huizenga helped him change his mind back again and put him and the family on the plane to South Florida.

It was a mistake that would reveal itself inside of two years.

Fast forward again to Jeff Fisher. You may be upset that Miami didn't land him. I certainly was. But ultimately, for whatever reasons, Fisher didn't want to come to the Dolphins. So the Dolphins are better off not having him. It's better to not hire someone who doesn't really want to come.

I warn you that wanting to be here is not a guarantee or predictor of success. Tony Sparano wanted to be the Dolphins coach more than he wanted to draw breath on some days. That didn't help him the past three years while the Dolphins posted back-to-back-to-back losing seasons.

But do I like the fact Philbin is by all account commited to being the Miami coach? Absolutely.

Follow Armando Salguero on twitter.

January 20, 2012

Joe Philbin to coach the Dolphins

Joe Philbin will be the Miami Dolphins next head coach, The Miami Herald has learned.

The former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator has been offered the job and he will become the Dolphins 10th head coach. He will inherit the same office once occupied by Don Shula.

He will also inherit a position that saw such failed efforts as the tenures of Nick Saban, Cam Cameron and Dave Wannstedt. As Philbin has never been a head coach, the Dolphins are hopeful Philbin will be a success.

But they obviously cannot know for certain.

Philbin is expected to fly to South Florida Saturday, reunite with owner Stephen Ross and the rest of the Dolphins hierarchy with whome he last interviewed on Wednesday, and afterward would sign a contract. Terms of that deal are still not available but a source said the deal is for no less than four years and "consistent with league norms."

A press conference will be held after Philbin signs his contract on Saturday.

The Dolphins failed last week to land first choice Jeff Fisher, who opted instead to join the St. Louis Rams and has become one of the richest coaches in the NFL, earning upwards of $7 million per season. The Philbin contract is likely worth about half that amount annually.

In picking Philbin, the Dolphins have a coach whose past is similar to that of former coach Tony Sparano. Philbin was an offensive line coach with Green Bay as Sparano was in Dallas. Philbin was the offensive coordinator in Green Bay but didn't call the plays just as Sparano held muted play-calling duties in Dallas before coming to Miami.

Philbin had never been an NFL head coach before coming to Miami. Sparano was never an NFL head coach before coming to Miami.

Philbin wins a three-man derby that also included interim coach Todd Bowles and Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. There have been whispers that Miami would like to offer Bowles the defensive coordinator job and that is still possible.

But a source close to Bowles says that has not been discussed with Bowles or his representation.

Dolphins owner on the move back to South Florida

Stephen Ross is done working in New York for the week. His job as a Big Apple real estate mogul is done. His job as the Dolphins owner who has spent the past four days interviewing potential head coach candidates is also mostly done.

Time to come home.

Time to name a coach.

Ross will board his private jet at around 8 a.m. this morning and head to South Florida, where he'll arrive around 11 a.m. He is expected to have with him a decision or near-decision on Miami's next coach when he returns. It's unclear if the new Dolphins' coach will be riding with him from New York, where the interviews were conducted.

Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is considered the leading candidate -- at least that's what he considered himself, as I reported two days ago. Unconfirmed reports, based on dubious tweets from CBS 4 in Denver and the assistant director of communications for the Mountain West Conference, say it's McCoy. I'm trying to confirm through, you know, legitimate means.

Green Bay offensive coordinator Joe Philbin and Miami interim coach Todd Bowles are also candidates.

[UPDATE: NFL Insider Danny More said on the Armando and Perk radio show this morning that Philbin has been eliminated as a candidate. He also reported McCoy returned to Denver following his interview with the Dolphins. That would suggest McCoy won't be on the plane with Ross when he lands.]

[UPDATE 2: A source close to Philbin tells me the Green Bay offensive coordinator has not been told one way or another what his status with the Dolphins is. Sheesh!]

[UPDATE 3: The Mountain West communications director says he has no inside information on McCoy.]

[UPDATE 4: The Dolphins contingent landed in Fort. Lauderdale. McCoy indeed was not on the plane as More said. Neither were any of the other two coaching candidates. GM Jeff Ireland and senior vice president for football operations Dawn Aponte got off the plane and returned to the team's facility. Aponte's role on the trip would obviously be one of budget and contract negotiation.]

[UPDATE 5: A Bowles family source tells me the interim coach has not been told one way or another what his status with the Dolphins is at this time.]

 

January 18, 2012

McCoy believes himself the leading candidate

Mike McCoy is scheduled to interview with the Dolphins on Thursday, the last of the three second-round interviews the team is conducting as it tries to find a new head coach. But this one might be more significant than the other two in that McCoy tangibly believes the job is his to lose.

Acccording to a source, McCoy considers himself the front-runner in the Miami job and is so confident of this status, he took his name out of consideration for the vacant Oakland Raiders job. McCoy was scheduled to interview for that Raiders opening in Denver on Wednesday but ultimately declined.

The source, who requested anonymity, said the Raiders were not thrilled with the apparent snub but were made to understand that McCoy believes himself the front-runner in Miami and he didn't want to do anything to hinder that status.

Both Todd Bowles and Joe Philbin, Miami's other two finalists, are also on the radar for head coach jobs with other teams but have not removed their names from the running of any potential opportunity.

It is unclear if McCoy was led to believe he is the front-runner by the Dolphins. The Dolphins are not commenting to the extent they declined to even confirm which candidates are being interviewed in the second round. The club did confirm completed interviews during the first-round of interviews.

The team did tell both Bowles and Philbin that today's interviews "went great," according to sources. The club is clearly not showing its cards.

McCoy has the enviable position of being the last of the three finalists to interview for the job. On Wednesday, the Dolphins talked to both interim head coach Bowles and Green Bay offensive coordinator Philbin for a second time.

McCoy will get the chance to the leave the lasting impression on owner Steven Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland.

Philbin, meanwhile, got an endorsement for his Dolphins candidacy from current Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy.

“I think he would make an excellent head coach,” McCarthy told Green Bay media. “I’ve said that before.”

Philbin has been with Green Bay since 2003 and has been offensive coordinator since 2007, although McCarthy calls plays. The Packers have ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in yardage each of the past five seasons, including third in 2011.

As Philbin, McCoy and Bowles compete for the job interviews, there is starting to be behind-the-scenes lobbying for each candidate from parties partial to one or the other.

One source asked why the Dolphins would be so enamored with McCoy as to give him a second interview, noting that the Broncos started the season on a 1-4 slide and ended the season on a 1-4 slide. In fairness, the Broncos did win the AFC West title.

But even that title was getting shot down by sources partial to the other candidates.

One of those noted that the only reason the Broncos won the AFC West is because since-fired Dolphins coach Tony Sparano opted for a two-point conversation against the Broncos early in the fourth quarter of their October 23 game. The conversion failed, giving the Dolphins a 12-0 lead instead of a 13-0 or 14-0 lead.

Had Sparano kicked the extra point, the Dolphins might have withstood a breakneck Denver comeback and still won the game 16-15 in regulation instead of losing 18-15 in overtime.

Interesting ...

That people close to the other candidates are bringing up these issues might also be a sign they believe McCoy might be Miami's leading candidate and he might need to be cut down a couple of rungs to even the playing field.

Dolphins should have new coach by Friday

Todd Bowles, Joe Philbin and Mike McCoy will interview a second time for the Dolphins' vacant head coach job starting today and going through Thursday. Bowles and Philbin will be today and McCoy on Thursday.

If this goes according to plan, the Dolphins should have a new head coach by Friday afternoon.

I don't know who the leader is at this time. It frankly doesn't matter because I'm told this round of interviews truly will decide the winner.

Here are some of my thoughts on the subject:

1. Bowles has spent four years working for the Dolphins. He was the interim coach that went 2-1. He has the backing of Bill Parcells. He almost got the Detroit job a couple of years ago. He already interviewed for the Oakland job this year and is on the radar for the Indianapolis Colts' job if he doesn't land the one in Miami.

What exactly do the Dolphins have to find out about him that they don't already know?

One has to wonder if the fact Bowles is part of the old guard, under Tony Sparano, is a help or hinderance in that it's viewed as doing more of the same thing? Among fans the answer might be different than among the men who are actually deciding this hire.

If Bowles does not land the job, will he be be offered the defensive coordinator job because the other two candidates are offense-minded coaches? Do not dismiss this possibility.

2. McCoy is suddenly hot. He can thank Tim Tebow for that. The fact is McCoy's offense was terrible before Tim Tebow dropped the winner's annointing on the Broncos. The offense was putrid under Kyle Orton. And McCoy was no hero in Carolina, either. Fact is he got less out of Matt Moore in 2007 with the Panthers than the Dolphins did this year. That's fact.

But McCoy did get more out of Brandon Marshall than has been the norm in Miami. And he comes highly recommended as well. Dan Henning respected him. John Fox loves him. And he is a hot commodity around the NFL, as Tampa and Oakland are also interested in him.

You have to give McCoy major props for adjusting the Denver offense this year to suit Tebow's skill set. The ability to adapt is a trademark of a former Dolphins coach had. That coach's name was Don Shula.

McCoy is 39 years old. He kind of fits the young Don Shula quote from Stephen Ross.

3. Philbin is similarly impressive and comes with hopes he might bring some of the Green Bay success to the Dolphins -- as in tangibly. There is talk he might bring quarterback coach Tom Clements with him to Miami as the offensive coordinator. There is talk he might be able to recruit Matt Flynn, Green Bay's backup quarterback, to the Dolphins as well.

I suggest the Dolphins judge Philbin on his own merits. You don't hire a guy based on what else the guy might bring you. That's like a woman that marries a man mostly because he's got money. Rarely works out.

I asked a source close to Philbin what he emotional state is. You'll recall Philbin had a son who drowned last week. He stayed away from the Packers much of the time last week before coaching from the press box on Sunday.

I am told Philbin has assured the Dolphins through his agent and will do so again in person that he is willing, ready and eager to move on with his career and that he is emotionally fine.

Many of you want me to tell you who I believe should get the job. I cannot because I'm not going to pretend to know these guys intimately enough to gauge which is best. I am not in the interviews. I have not actually sat down with any of them.

Any journalist giving you an opinion on which candidate would be best ... run away from that idiot.

Follow me on twitter. I am not an idiot -- most of the time.