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72 posts from January 2012

January 09, 2012

Son of Dolphins HC candidate goes missing

Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, who interviewed for the Dolphins vacant coaching job Friday and Saturday and is now supposed to be preparing for the New York Giants playoff game this coming weekend, has bigger concerns right now.

His 21-year-old son Michael has been missing since Sunday.

The younger Philbin has not been heard from since early Sunday and was reported missing late Sunday in Oshkosh, Wis.

[UPDATE: The young Philbin has a troubled past. He was sentenced to six months in jail in 2009 for sexually assualting two under-age girls.]

[UPDATE 2: A body identified as the young Philbin was found floating in a river near Oshkosh. No cause of death has been determined.]

Tough situation.

Wish the Philbin family the best.

Murlarkey's rise from failed TE coach to HC candidate

Mike Mularkey, who reportedly will interview for the Dolphins head coach job this week, gained a solid albeit unspectacular NFL reputation as the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator. The Fort Lauderdale-born former tight end parlayed that reputation into a job as the head coach of the Buffalo Bills.

It didn't go too well.

Yes, he did outstanding work his first season -- after an 0-4 start -- and rallied the team to a 9-7 finish. But his second season was dogged by QB problems, as neither JP Losman nor Kelly Holcomb could produce enough to keep the Bills from finishing 24th in the NFL on offense.

After that season, the Bills hired Marv Levy as the defacto general manager and he wasn't a big Mularkey fan. The coach "resigned" and was then hired by Nick Saban to be his offensive coordinator for the 2006 season.

That didn't go well, either. The Dolphins averaged 16.3 points per game that season. Miami scored 20 points or more in only six of 16 games that year. Miami was 20th in total offense. Mularkey's play-calling was questionable and Saban often threw him under the bus to the point Mularkey didn't exactly love his boss.

His next boss, Cam Cameron, kept Mularkey on the staff but demoted him to tight ends coach. That was short-lived also. Those Dolphins were 1-15 and obviously everyone failed. And pretty much everyone got canned.

When the Bill Parcells-Jeff Ireland administration took over, Mularkey was fired. He was dismissed on January 8, 2008 along with all the other assistants.

Mularkey went to Atlanta and immediately was credited with making Michael Turner a fine starting running back, turning Matt Ryan into a good starting quarterback and generally handling the tons of talent on the Atlanta offense well. Atlanta finished 10th in scoring in 2008, then 13th in 2009, then 5th in 2010 and seventh in 2011.

But ...

Is what Mularkey did in Atlanta truly worthy of making him a head coach?

Parcells and Ireland (before Sparano was hired) decided Mularkey should not be retained as an assistant but now Ireland and owner Stephen Ross have him on their head coach short list? He wasn't good enough to hire as the tight end coach four years ago but he deserves a head coach interview?

People around the NFL run hot and cold on Mularkey. Some like him for running a balanced offense. Some dislike him for running an offense that depends too much on talent and doesn't present enough updated looks and problems to defenses. I was not a big fan of his play-calling back in the day.

Mularkey, by the way, is free to interview with the Dolphins now because the Falcons were eliminated from the playoffs Sunday. The Falcons were crushed 24-2 by the Giants.

The Dolphins scored 17 points against the G-Men back in October with offensive talent not considered to be nearly as good as Atlanta's. The Falcons scored two points Sunday with better talent. In fact, Mularkey's offense was outscored by the Giants ... and his own defense.

Because Mularkey's offense was shut out.

After the game, some Falcons players were not too thrilled with Mularkey's approach or his play-calling that included two failed quarterback sneaks on fourth-and-1. There's this from Jason Cole's game story on YahooSports!

"Rather than challenge defenses with aggressive play-calling, Atlanta has played scared.

“We talked about trying to establish the running game because we didn’t think we could pass protect,” said Falcons wide receiver Roddy White, who was limited to five catches for 52 yards with a long of only 21 yards. “We played right into their hands. I mean, if they sack us every down and we can’t move the ball, OK. But let’s try.”

"White’s remarks echo private comments of several other players who have pointed at a disconnection who offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey’s approach. Numerous players believe Mularkey is too conservative, particularly in tense situations like the playoffs.

Or as one player put it: “Something has to be said to [coach] Mike [Smith] this offseason.”

Curious.

January 08, 2012

Fisher leaves St. Louis (flying commercial)

Jeff Fisher spent four hours at the St. Louis Rams facility today before leaving for the airport where he boarded a flight on Southwest Airlines, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

The man the Dolphins flew to their training facility on a private helicopter apparently doesn't mind flying commercial with unassigned seats and no first class cabin!

And so what all does this mean?

Fisher was flying to Denver. [Update: A source tells me he went to San Diego.] The actual purpose of his trip is unknown but I suppose he's going to get aorund family and make a decision.

You already know Fisher has not told the Dolphins he's not coming. But neither are the Dolphins holding their breath.

They have, according to numerous national reports on FOX and CBS, scheduled interviews this week with Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey and Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

Doesn't look great but not over yet

I hate doing this but in today's up-to-the-second news cycle, I imagine you'll want to know:

I just asked a couple of Dolphins people in the know if they've been told by Jeff Fisher that he's going to the St. Louis Rams.

"No," both said.

So the Dolphins believe they're still in the game with Fisher at this minute. It can change in the coming hours and several league sources are saying it will. But not yet.

Now, I grant you, it looks grim for the Dolphins and even they recognize that. Even one of the men I communicated with said he expects Fisher to go to the Rams, although he'd love for him to come to Miami.

Yeah, that's not good. Fisher spent a day meeting with Rams owner Stan Kroenke in Denver. And he's spent the past couple of days at the Rams facility in St. Louis. He's reportedly met with quarterback Sam Bradford and talked to officials about a possible move back to Los Angeles.

All this feels, sounds, looks like Fisher is dotting his i and crossing his t before picking the Rams.

But it's not over until it's over.

Reasons some things are happening as they are

If you want to know why the Dolphins want to hire Jeff Fisher to be their head coach, read my Sunday column in The Herald.

If you want to know why the team is lukewarm at best on the idea of even talking to Marty Schottenheimer although his career winning percentage blows Fisher away, read my Sunday column in The Herald.

And if you want to know why Brian Billick has zero chance to become the Dolphins coach even if Jeff Fisher doesn't accept the job, read my Sunday column in The Herald.

That is all for now. Have a wonderful Sunday, everyone.

January 07, 2012

Did the Dolphins interview best Green Bay assistant?

The Dolphins have announced their interivew with Green Bay offensive coordinator Joe Philbin has concluded this Saturday afternoon.

Great.

I'm wondering if they interviewed the best Green Bay assistant?

The fact of the matter is many NFL people I speak with tell me the biggest budding star in the Green Bay Packers coaching staff is assistant head coach Winston Moss. Yes, Joe Philbin is considered to be a very good coach. He is a solid X and O guy and he has no problem communicating with most of his players.

But those same people tell me Moss commands a room when he walks into it. Those people tell me when Moss speaks, everyone listens. They tell me Moss will be a head coach in the NFL and if he gets into the right situation, he will be a bigtime winner because he knows football, knows how to pick good people, and is a natural leader.

And so again, I ask, are the Dolphins interviewing the right Green Bay assistant?

I know this: The Oakland Raiders are becoming the Green Bay Packers of the west. They've asked former Packers general manager Ron Wolf his opinion on all things from hiring a general manager to hiring a head coach. No, Wolf is not oficially working for Oakland but his words are resonating.

So it comes as no surprise the Raiders hired former Green Bay director of football operation Reggie McKenzie on January 5. McKenzie has the power to fire and hire head coaches. And, again, people I'm speaking with tell me McKenzie is seriously considering firing head coach Hue Jackson.

And if that happens, McKenzie will ask for permission to interview, you guessed it, Winston Moss.

So the people from Green Bay who best know the people working within the organization are moving to Oakland and when they think of bringing other Green Bay people with them, they're probably going to be talking to Winston Moss.

And the Dolphins, admirers of what the Packers have done, look at the Packers staff and don't include Moss in the interview process? I'm not saying, don't talk to Philbin. I am saying, absolutely talk to Moss!

Oh, one more thing:

Winston Moss is from Miami. He was born here. He went to Southridge High School here. (I remember interviewing him after a high school game and he ended the interview with, "Thank you, sir.") Moss also went to The University of Miami.

Moss was the leader at Southridge. He was a leader on The U team that won a lot of games and had a lot of Alpha males on it. They listened to Moss. He was a leader as an NFL player also. He was a team captain three times in his pro career and was voted winner of the Ed Block Courage Award on the 1993 Raiders and an Unsung Hero Award in 1996 by the NFL Players Association.

The man's impressive to practically everyone who knows him.

Why the Dolphins talk to him, I have no idea.  

Why the Rams are favorites to get Fisher

At no time have I told you on this blog what I think is going to happen with the Jeff Fisher search. I've told you what, in fact, is happening in the news. I've told you what is supposed to happen next, based on facts.

Now let's go a step further. Let me report to you that of the five sources I've spoke to on the topic the past three days, four told me they expect Fisher to go to St. Louis. So there's that.

As for my opinion? Allow me to give you that now based on what I know:

I spoke to a very highly placed Dolphins source late Thursday and was told the Dolphins are optimistic they will get Fisher. But they don't know. Not really. Not at all.

So the Dolphins don't really know if they're getting Fisher or not. They hope they are. They simply don't know and the Internet report saying they think they're getting Fisher is probably overstating the issue.

Me?

I don't think the Dolphins are getting Jeff Fisher. I think he'll end up in St. Louis. Furthermore, the only way I believe Fisher comes to Miami is if the Rams somehow blow the process of hiring him. If the Rams play this smart rather than play it like they've performed on the field the past decade, they simply have the better opportunity for Fisher.

In St. Louis, Fisher has the ability to mold the franchise's structure. He would have say over the hiring of a general manager. He doesn't have that in Miami. In St. Louis he will have a quarterback in Sam Bradford that is younger and has more long-range potential than Miami's Matt Moore. If Fisher is not sold on either quarterback -- a possibility -- he'd have a better opportunity to find a pedigreed replacement in St. Louis because the Rams have the No. 2 overall pick. The Dolphins, who own the eighth or ninth pick depending on a coin toss, likely will not have a chance to pick either Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III.

In St. Louis, the No. 2 overall selection can be used as trade bait and it would bring multiple first-round picks in return -- perhaps from Cleveland, which has two first-round picks this year and wants a quarterback (RG3). The Dolphins can trade down from their spot but it will not bring an extra first-round pick this year.

The Rams have more salary cap space than the Dolphins.

The Rams play in division that does not include Bill Belchick.

The quarterbacks the Rams have to beat to win the division are Tarvaris Jackson, Kevin Kolb or John Skelton, and Alex Smith. The quarterback the Dolphins have to beat to win the division is Tom Brady.

St. Louis owner Stan Kroenke is a known quantity. He owns the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche as well as the Arsenal football club of the Premier League. He does not interfere with his coaches. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is a less known quantity. He doesn't currently own other sports franchises and it cannot be said he is like Jerry Jones But Ross did at various points involve himself in the team's quarterback search last season.

Miami's advantages over St. Louis?

It's simply nicer here. This is a bigger market. The overall Miami roster is deeper than the one in St. Louis, although the Rams defense is already built with 4-3 personnel while Miami's defense has been built since 2005 with 3-4 personnel.

Fisher runs the 4-3 defense.

January 06, 2012

Jeff Fisher: Decision next week

Jeff Fisher is done with his initial meetings with the Dolphins and St. Louis Rams and he will decide between the two next week, according to ESPN.

Fisher apparently said idependently or told the network he won't decide between the two teams until next week, which suggests he'll take the weekend to think things through. He also said the decision is, as has been reported here, between Miami and St. Louis exclusively.

Both teams are hopeful of landing Fisher.

Why?

Simple: Both know he can do the job. Fisher has been a successful NFL head coach.

But both teams are continuing with their coach search. The Dolphins today are hosting Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin. The Rams are similarly continuing with their interview process. But everyone both teams are interviewing that is not named Fisher pretty much comes with this warning:

None have any NFL head coach experience. So in that regard, the teams are hoping these candidates can be head coaches.

See the difference?

Fisher is known to be able to do the job. The other candidates, the teams hope they can do the job.

Jason Taylor on NFL Network this weekend

Jason Taylor just came on my radio show to talk of his retirement from the Dolphins and we got to talking about post NFL career.

He's going to TV, folks.

Taylor has several irons in the fire, so to speak, and is looking to stick with whomever is a best fit for him. And this weekend he'll be kicking the tires for a fit with the NFL Network. Taylor said on the show he'd be in studio on NFLN.

Taylor, 37, is also likely to do South Florida radio work, probably with a segment on a show.

Perspective always a good thing this time of year

Let's pause from the news that is almost certain to break out later on Friday (Joe Philbin in town, the Jeff Fisher watch) to take account of what is going on right now.

I know the narrative in covering the Dolphins is often that the entire organization is comprised of bumbling, driveling dumb-dumbs. Anytiome I write anything even remotely positive, many of you call me a homer. You say anyone that works for the Dolphins is not as good as the guy working for the Patriots, Packers, Giants, Saints or Ravens because, well, those teams are better than the Dolphins.

So their people are obviously better than Miami's people.

Well, that is sometimes the case. It's undeniable.

But not always.

I knew long ago when the Dolphins got rid of Wes Welker and he turned out to be quite special in New England that mediocre results here don't mean a player or coach or front office man is mediocre. I learned the lesson when the Dolphins fired Mike Westhoff and he is still one of the better special teams coaches in the NFL. I learned it when year after year Miami would blow out assistants like Mike Mularkey, Joel Collier, Dom Capers, Clarence Brooks, Paul Boudreau, or Keith Armstrong, and they'd land somewhere else and do great work.

Same with the upper management.

People we don't appreciate much here leave or are fired and they end up being great for other teams. Browns President Bryan Weidermeier and former Dolphins marketing man Jim Ross come to mind.

I'm reminded of this because the Dolphins were a disasterous 6-10 this season. And someone has to be responsible. So we think everyone in the organization thus sucks.

Not true.

Too simplistic to think that way.

There are quality people working for the Miami Dolphins today. There are fewer, than years ago, I grant you, but still there are quality professionals around.

In coaching, you can tell quality beyond player production in how quickly folks get hired. I assure you men such as Mike Nolan, Bryan Cox, Todd Bowles and Brian Daboll will not be unemployed long if they are not retained in Miami.

And it says something when Brian Gaine out of the personnel department is mentioned as a candidate for the Rams general manager job. (I don't know Gaine that well, have heard some things about him I didn't love, but still am open enough to believe he brings certain gifts to his job.)

It says something when Bowles is considered a candidate to interview for head coach jobs elsewhere. Bowles, by the way, reportedly is on the Rams radar to interview for their open job. The NFL Network reported the Dolphins denied the interview request but that is inaccurate. The Dolphins had not even received the consent request form as of late Thursday.

But I digress ...

The point here is we have to take a step back and breathe sometimes during these hectic times following a terrible season. No, the club is definitely not producing. One playoff appearance in a decade is completely unacceptable and I understand the frustration that has caused.

But does that mean everyone working for the Dolphins is awful?

No.

January 05, 2012

Landry Jones returning to Oklahoma as senior

The quaterback talent for the 2012 draft just got thinner, as Oklahoma University just announced Landry Jones is returning to school for his senior year.

"I want to accomplish the goals that I set before I got here, and there is still a lot more to do," Jones said. "I want to make sure I've exhausted every effort in that area. And I want to be a senior. I enjoy being at OU and with my teammates and look forward to graduating with the guys that were in my class when I got here."

The Artesia, NM, native said the NFL remains his goal.

"That's the ultimate goal for anyone who plays football," Jones said. "I've thought about that since I was a little boy. It would be a great honor to play in the NFL and that goal will still be there when I finish at Oklahoma."

I'm glad Jones is going back to school. It is the best decision for him because, frankly, he struggled terribly the final month or so of the season and that hurt his draft stock. He showed poor decision-making. He turned the ball over. He proved himself incapable of carrying his team when injuries befell the offense.

Unlike the decision by USC's Matt Barkley to return to school, Landry's decision isn't really a huge hit to the Dolphins. Jones would probably not have been a top 10 draft pick, given his struggles.

He thus would not have figured in Miami's plans at No. 8 or No. 9 where the Dolphins are scheduled to select. (There will be a coin toss between Miami and Carolina for the No. 8 pick and the loser takes No. 9).

Barkley, by contrast, might have been the second or third quarterback selected and would definitely have been on the radar of both the Dolphins and other teams in the top 10 looking for a quarterback.

The indirect effect this Jones decision might have is that teams in the middle of the first round that might have waited for Jones to fall to them now might be tempted to trade up past the Dolphins to land a quarterback.

Impossible to predict.

Good, experienced coaches NOT in short supply

The Dolphins aren't just sitting around waiting for Jeff Fisher to say yes or no. They have interviews planned Friday and Saturday.

As the search has developed it has become obvious the Dolphins are reaching for the biggest-name, most experienced coaches first -- with a failed attempt at Jon Gruden and the current attempt at Fisher -- and then they're rummaging among the lesser-known assistants (Chicago's Dave Toub, who interviewed Wednesday and Green Bay's Joe Philbin who's interviewing by the weekend, according to the Milwaukee-Journal-Sentinel for example).

The question must be asked, however, are the Dolphins being comprehensive in their search of the best available coaching talent?

Or are they perhaps limiting themselves unnecessarily.

I've already told you the team is off the Brian Billick train -- adding themselves to the list of teams declining to hop on board with the former Baltimore coach.

But how about other higher-profile candidates?

How about Marty Schottenheimer? How about Mike Sherman? How about Jim Haslet?

How about expanding this search to include other men of character and experience? How about including guys that might just totally wow owner Stephen Ross, general manager Jeff Ireland and enigma-in-waiting Carl Peterson?

Schottenheimer, for example, would love a chance at coaching the Dolphins. And the Dolphins would be wise to speak to him. He's a winner. He's credible. He's respected. Don Shula once told me if he could have picked his successor, he would have picked Schottenheimer.

Schottenheimer is said to be eager, prepared and ready to go if the Dolphins were to call.

Yes, he's 68 years old. And I recognize the NFL is often a young man's league. But Marv Levy took his Buffalo Bills to the Super Bowl when he was 65 years old. And again at 66 years old. And 67. And 68.

And then Levy won the AFC Coach of the Year award in 1995 ... at age 70.

"He's got a fire in his belly," someone close to Schottenheimer told me recently, adding that the former coach with a 200-126-1 (.613) career record is ready to return to work.

To prove it, Schottenheimer took on the task of coaching the Virginia Destroyers of the UFL in March of 2011. He won the UFL championship in October of 2011.

The point I'm making is this: The Dolphins don't need to promise Schottenheimer the job by calling him. But they should at least interview him because when he sits in a room with Ireland, Ross and Peterson, he would be the most accomplished football man in the room and could probably teach the trio something.

And what if he's so impressive and surprising that he becomes a viable fall-back choice in case Fisher doesn't take the job? The Dophins would have guarded against major disappointment. If, on the other hand, the team decides Schottenhiemer isn't it but still learns something about football while listening to him, they still benefit.

It's a win-win.

It's also curious why Sherman isn't getting more attention from Miami. He just interviewed with the Tampa Bay Bucs this morning. He is a quality, experienced candidate.

An offensive mind? Yes. Prepared? Yes. Meticulous? Allow me to share this story:

When I worked for ESPN between 2001 and 2003, I covered Sherman and his Packers for a while. I remember a Thanksgiving Day meeting between the Packers and Lions in which the Pack came to Detroit the afternoon before the game and met with me and my crew for interviews.

I sat down with Sherman and asked him difficult questions. He was prepared. He wasn't dismissive. But I asked one question that apparently took him by surprise. He answered but when the on-camera interview ended, he went back to the question which he was obviously still on his mind.

"Can I get another shot at giving you a better answer?" he asked.

You're offering a better answer?

Are you kidding me?

We fired the cameras back up and off went.

Sherman is an impressive guy. Like Marty Schottenheimer. Like Haslet.

Men worthy of Dolphins interviews.

Rams travel to mountain top to get Fisher wisdom

Jeff Fisher is interviewing with the St. Louis Rams today in Denver, according to YahooSports.

Searching for clever lines now ... So if the Dolphins brought Fisher in on a helicopter, do the Rams give him a ride on a ski lift? Or on Tim Tebow's shoulders?

Seriously, the next day or so is going to be nail-biting time for Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, general manager Jeff Ireland, advisor-in-chief Carl Peterson and Dolphins fans everywhere. Fisher, the best available coach candidate on the market, is very much in play and very much in demand and St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke wants him just as much as the Dolphins do.

Both teams are what I would call, um, what's the word ... desperate.

Fisher will coach either the Rams or Dolphins, an NFL source is telling me.

In South Florida, the Dolphins are needing to make a splash to renew their increasingly sagging reputation. They have made the playoffs only once in a decade. Ross was booed at his own stadium by Dolphins fans on Sunday even when he was trying to do something nice, giving Jason Taylor a fitting sendoff.

Season ticket buyers, already in short supply, will go AWOL in droves if the Dolphins don't land Fisher but try to sell you Joe Philbin or Dave Toub or one of the other lesser light candidates, as a good hire.

So the Dolphins are counting on Fisher joining the team. They need Fisher joining the team. They're willing to change their structure, their culture, change their defense even (Fisher runs a 4-3) to hire Fisher. And they are willing to pay through the nose to do it.

But guess what?

The Rams are similarly desperate. The Rams have had only four winning seasons since 1990. They've won only 15 games since 2007. And they're trying to get the community to fund renovations to their domed home.

They are reportedly interested in interviewing former Dolphins interim Todd Bowles, but they can never actually hire Bowles because, well, he is not Fisher.

Fisher is the thing in Miami, yes. But ownership in St. Louis is under similar pressure to show itself competent of hiring the biggest name on the block with failure signaling serious repercussions to its reputation, financial standing, etc ...

Now, I have seen some of you question the logic, even the intelligence of hiring Fisher based on his style of play or his record. I've read more than once in the comments section that Fisher had only six winning seasons in 17 seasons with the Tennessee Titans.

This is a statement of fact, but not of truth. It fails to recognize the situation Fisher dealt with while working for the Oilers first and then the newly named Titans after the move to Nashville.

Consider these truths in today's the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

In his first four full seasons as the coach of the Oilers-Titans, Fisher's teams played "home games" in four stadiums, in three cities, in two states. The Houston Astrodome in 1996, Liberty Bowl in Memphis in 1997, the Vanderbilt University stadium in Nashville in 1998, and the new stadium in Nashville in 1999. The Titans remained competitive. Fisher calmly coached through the chaos.

The Titans were fifth in the NFL in victories over a 10-season period (1999-2008) after finally getting settled in their new Nashville home. Only Indianapolis, New England, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia won more games.

Fisher rebuilt the Titans on the fly after core-nucleus veterans were cleared out during a salary-cap purge in 2004. After retooling during two losing seasons (2004-2005), the Titans improved to .500 in 2006 and made the playoffs in '07 and '08.

During Fisher's 16 full seasons, his Oilers-Titans had the NFL's seventh-best winning percentage. They were sixth in rushing and fourth in stopping the run. They were fourth in sacks and third in preventing sacks. They had league's 10th-best touchdown/interception ratio.

Fisher had five 8-8 seasons. But three came when the Titans were in their transient phase before 1999. Another 8-8 came during the rebuilding process of 2005.

[RADIO NOTE: I'll be discussing all things coaching search this morning on my radio show, the Armando Salguero and Chris Perkins show on 640 Sports from 6-10 a.m. You can watch the show on The Miami Herald's u-stream telecast. You can also call the show from anywhere in the nation. Call 1-888-640-9385.]

January 04, 2012

Dolphins have shown only unofficial interest in Billick

So where is Brian Billick in this coach search?

He's won a Super Bowl. He has experience. He put together a star-studded coaching staff in Baltimore that became a proving ground for future NFL head coaches Mike Nolan, Rex Ryan, Marvin Lewis, Jack Del Rio, and Mike Smith.

If nothing else, the guy can certainly put a staff together.

So what is the Dolphins interest in him?

So far, the Dolphins have had one unofficial contact with Billick or his camp, an NFL source tells The Miami Herald's David J. Neal. And another source tells me Billick is not really in play at the current time at all for the Miami job.

I find this puzzling.

I have asked numerous NFL sources why the Dolphins haven't or wouldn't dive headlong into a chance to interview Billick for the head coach job. No one can give me a definitive answer other than, Brian Billick can be a little pompous. Someone else told me Billick thinks he's always the smartest guy in the room and has no patience of dumb people.

A little pompous? The guy maybe has a big ego?

Are you kidding me?

That's the reason the Dolphins haven't gotten serious with Billick?

There has to be something else because Billick also hasn't been mentioned as a possibility anywhere else -- not St. Louis, not Kansas City, not Tampa Bay, not St. Louis, and obviously not Miami.

If there is an overriding reason Billick cannot be considered a good candidate, fine, I'd accept that. But the Dolphins have officially paid him no mind and at this writing don't seem intent on it.

There has to be a better reason for that than the guy can be pompous.

Dolphins won't be outbid financially for Fisher

The Dolphins are prepared to make Jeff Fisher the best financial offer of any team vying for the coach this winter, an NFL source told the Miami Herald and a source close to owner Stephen Ross confirmed.

Ross is not eager to overpay to land Fisher or anyone else as he searches for a head coach. But the Dolphins owner is willing to best any offer that might come from St. Louis or Tampa Bay or any other team wanting to hire the former Tennessee Titans coach. Fisher is the most accomplished coach on the Dolphins' radar.

And the Dolphins are intent on not being outbid financially for Fisher.

Ross has the deep pockets necessary to pay what he must to hire Fisher and he apparently does not want to be seen as incapable of landing the most prized coach on the market -- at least not as a result of being outbid.

The NFL source said Fisher understands the Dolphins are prepared to outbid all other teams. But he has other concerns, such as the team's structure, that he must overcome before deciding if he wants to work in Miami or not.

Other teams may be able to more fully satisfy Fisher in offering him the kind of structure he is more comfortable with and that may tilt his decision away from Miami. But money talks and it's only a matter of how much Fisher is willing to listen.

"If Jeff wants the money, if that is more important to him, then the Dolphins have a good chance," the source said. "But if money is secondary and he's more concerned with structure or other cards on the table, he'll end up somewhere else."

So basically the Dolphins are trying to use their ability to pay more as a way of overcoming what is seen in some circles as issues Fisher isn't completely comfortable with.

Dolphins paranoia rears its paranoid head

There's an old adage about how quickly football teams adjust, or should adjust, to the strategy of their opponents: High School teams adjust next game. College teams adjust next half. NFL teams adjust next series.

The Dolphins are adjusting.

Intrepid Miami Herald reporter/columnist David J. Neal has been staking out the Dolphins facility since the start of the current coaching search from an adjacent parking lot overlooking the team's practice facility. That vantage point got you the pictures of yesterday's Jeff FIsher arrival and departure on the helicopter. And we also learned that Steve Ross, Jeff Ireland and Carl Peterson accompanied Fisher when he left because we saw it.

Well, this morning, the Dolphins ordered the security guards at Nova University, which maintains the garage, to remove the media from the garage.

I don't know if the Fins are upset people are making jokes about the helicopter, or the fact we're seeing who is involved in the daily activity of the coach interviews, or the fact they're just plain paranoid. I remember once upon a time this organization made general manager candidates interviewing for the job available to speak to the media -- and the team was a playoff team at the time.

Whatever the problem, the Iron Curtain has descended around the Dolphins practice facility. Winston Churchill would be sick about this.

Now it's up to the media to adjust in an effort to bring you the most accurate informaton possible. Clue on how quickly we'll adjust: The Miami Herald doesn't hire people in high school or college.

Dolphins copter on the move again: Toub

The Dolphins helicopter, becoming so increasingly famous it needs a name, has landed on the team's practice field again this morning.

And, sure enough, another coach candidate stepped off. A source tells me it's Chicago Bears special teams coach Dave Toub.

Look, I didn't understand the facination with Toub. I am not an expert so I'm not going to act like I know Toub from Adam. But I'm told by a Dolphins source that Toub is excellent and it makes sense to talk to him.

The source says the Dolphins are intrigued by Toub's great special teams work but also with the model that has turned the Baltimore Ravens into a fine team. Baltimore coach John Harbaugh was the special coach in Philadelphia before he went to Baltimore.

Um, please name the Dolphins helicopter.

The troubling connection of Jeff Fisher to the Rams

When a Miami Herald reporter called agent Marvin Demoff's home Tuesday, he was told by Demoff's wife that her husband is in St. Louis.

Ghhhhhrrrreeeeeaaaaaatttt!

St. Louis is where Kevin Demoff works as the Rams chief operating officer. St. Louis is where Kevin Demoff will have an opportunity to visit with his father, Marvin Demoff. Marvin Demoff represents Jeff Fisher. St. Louis is where Fisher is scheduled to interview for the head coach vacancy between now and Friday.

I am not saying the fact the Rams are currently run by a Demoff and Fisher is represented by a Demoff means Fisher is a slam dunk in St. Louis. I'm certain Fisher, who basically has a choice where he will coach in 2012, will make his decision based on a handful of critical factors important to him.

But I am saying that St. Louis undoubtedly has an advantage in the chase for Demoff. To deny that is to look past obvious truths and the undeniable connections driving the situation.

And that has to make any Dolphins fan hoping the team hires Fisher a bit uncomfortable. Fisher has rock solid connections that can point him to St. Louis. He has no connections of similar strength in Miami.

The elder Demoff is obviously a professional and will work toward serving his client as best he can. The younger Demoff is similarly going to work on his team's behalf. But who are we kidding here? Fisher is going to to St. Louis pretty much knowing the pictch and situation he's about to face.

Interestingly, the Kevin Demoff denied this is the case during his availability on Monday. 

"Everybody assumes that because my father represents Jeff Fisher, there's a natural fit," the younger Demoff said. "His job is to represent Jeff Fisher; our job is to find the right head coach for the Rams, I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that because I know someone who happens to know Jeff well, that I know Jeff well, that Jeff's going to be our head coach.

"I know that makes for great conjecture, great internet fodder...but it's completely unfounded," Demoff said.

OK, let me put it another way then:

If Kevin Demoff knows his team wants Fisher enough to interview him first in this process and doesn't use whatever advantage he has at his disposal -- his father's ties to Fisher -- then he's pulling punches. Simple as that.

And I cannot say in 21 years of covering the NFL I've heard of an instance when a Demoff pulled a punch. 

January 03, 2012

Peterson very much a part of the Dolphins coach search

Pertersongruden2

That is Carl Peterson and Jeff Fisher on the field of the Dolphins practice facility waiting to board a helicopter following the coach's "interview" with the Dolphins today. (Trust me, I enlarged the picture sent by The Herald's David J. Neal and that is definitely Carl Peterson.)

The two men waited for a minute or so before owner Stephen Ross came out and boarded the helicopter with them and another unidentified man and took off. Their destination is not known.

What is known is that is Carl Peterson talking to Fisher. That is Carl Peterson boarding the helicopter. That is the same Carl Peterson who has said he would not be joining the Dolphins.

That is the same Carl Peterson who multiple NFL sources have told me -- even today -- will be named the Dolphins president in the coming days or weeks.

When Ross last spoke to the media he said he hadn't spoken with Peterson about joining and working for the Dolphins. Hmmm. Looks like he's doing Dolphins work to me.

In fact, I'm told Peterson was the Dolphins representative that both contacted and spoke with Jon Gruden about the Dolphins job recently. I'm told Peterson met with Gruden to gauge his interest for the Dolphins' 'coaching job.

Gruden made it clear to Peterson he isn't interested and Peterson carried that message back to Ross.

That also sounds like Dolphins work to me.

So why all the denials? What's the big deal?

Follow Armando Salguero on twitter for real-time updates on all things. Yes, everything!

Fisher boards helicopter and leaves Dolphins facility


Jeff Fisher has left the Dolphins building ... I feel like I'm covering Elvis.

Wearing a suit and walking next to owner Stephen Ross and a man that Herald reporter David J. Neal believes was Carl Peterson, Fisher boarded the helicopter that was waiting on the Dolphins practice field adjacent to the team's Davis facility minutes ago and cruised away.

[Update: Carl Peterson is definitely the man in the picture.]

I'd like to tell you he might come back. I'd like to tell you the pair maybe went for lunch.

But who the heck takes a helicopter to lunch?

[UPDATE: The Dolphins just announced that they have completed their interview with Fisher.]

I can definitely tell you Fisher is gone.

Meanwhile, the San Diego Chargers have announced that head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith will return for the 2012 season.

“Bottom line, I believe these two men give us the best chance to get back to the playoffs,” Spanos said. “A.J. Smith is the best man to improve our roster, and Norv Turner is the best man to lead that roster on the field.

“Together, we have stability and experience that’s hard to find in the NFL. They’ve both been in this league a long time. I don’t think there is anything they haven’t seen or experienced. They’ve led us through some difficult situations.

“As we’ve seen throughout Norv’s tenure and particularly this past season, the players believe in him, respect him and play hard for him. When we went through that tough stretch, no one quit. The team kept playing hard, and that’s a tribute to Norv’s leadership and the respect the players have for him.

“Now we will take a hard look at everything, from player evaluation to coaching to the rash of injuries we’ve suffered in recent years. Injuries have killed us. And no one is ever perfect in this business. Player evaluation isn’t an exact science. We need to improve across the board and I’m going to make sure we do.

“We all have our quirks and faults, but I want A.J. and Norv on my side. They are the right men to help us win a championship.”

So why is that important on a Dolphins blog?

Are you kidding?

The fact is the potential San Diego opening would have been very attractive, and probably the most attractive opening to Jeff Fisher -- who today happens to be touring the Dolphins facility and being begged to take the Dolphins job.

The Chargers are a Southern California team and Fisher is from, wait for it, Southern California. The Chargers have franchise-caliber quarterback Phillip Rivers on the team and Fisher has been floating through handlers that he wants to coach a team with a fairly settled quarterback situation. The Chargers have a lot of talent. Fisher likes teams with lots of talent.

So the deletion of the Chargers from the list of potential suitor improves Miami's chances. No question.

The fact Fisher has left, meanwhile, is not a good sign. Fisher is reportedly scheduled to meet with Tampa Bay and St. Louis this week.

Please follow me on twitter for quickie real-time updates on what's going on.