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4 posts from January 14, 2014

January 14, 2014

Ben McAdoo agrees to become NYG OC

Ben McAdoo, considered the most likely hire as the Dolphins next offensive coordinator, was not an easy man to get. Indeed, he's not going to be the Dolphins next OC at all.

McAdoo left the Dolphins facility moments ago, headed to the airport and agreed to become the next offensive coordinator of the New York Giants, per a source. The story was first reported by FOXSports1.

There is no doubt the reason McAdoo was able to get done so quickly is because he was increasingly in demand. Only moments before agreeing to terms with the Giants, he had other teams already eager to speak with him, as I reported on my twitter feed:

The Dolphins knew about McAdoo's interview with the New York Giants on Monday. But the interest from the Ravens was new.

Indeed, Baltimore put in a interview notice for McAdoo only hours ago after their OC Jim Caldwell accepted the job to become the Detroit Lions coach.

Here's the issue: I doubt the Dolphins knew of the Ravens interest and thus did not know of the building momentum to get McAdoo. But they knew of the Giants interest. And they let McAdoo leave the building without getting him.

I cannot tell you if they offered McAdoo the job on the spot or not. If they did, obviously McAdoo thought better of the opportunities in New York. If they did not, well, you snooze ... you lose.

Source: Dawson also impressive in interview

The Dolphins are pleased with their general manager search so far because 1. They believe they are identifying quality candidates and 2. Several candidates have so far been very good to exceptional in their interviews, according to various sources.

Include Lake Dawson as one of those impressive interviews.

Like Ray Farmer, which sources said over the weekend was the most impressive interview so far after his meeting with the team Saturday, Dawson similarly left a great impression following his interview on Sunday, according to a source familiar with the process.

Dawson is the Tennessee Titans vice president of player personnel.

So for the time being, it seems Farmer and Dawson lead the pack of five candidates that have interviewed.

This is a constantly evolving dynamic. I am not saying either of these men will be the guy. I am saying both have put themselves in a good position compared to others who have already interviewed. I am giving you as close to a blow-by-blow account of what's happening as possible. This is not the final score, however.

(Reports that tried to piggyback off my Farmer report made a leap, wrongly suggesting I said the Dolphins had found their guy or the process was basically done. The process continues.)

Interestingly, this process puts to the test a habit of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross that I have heard from multiple people he simply cannot shake. Ross often seems to agree with, or fall in love with the latest person he speaks with.

"He'll talk to someone and think that person is great and five minutes later he'll talk to someone else and now that new person is great and he forgets the previous guy," one source said. "He does it all the time."

If that's the case, the candidates that have yet to interview might have unknowingly worked themselves into a great spot.

One of the interviews the Dolphins are trying to nail down, by the way, is for Atlanta director of player personnel Lionel Vital. I am told Vital comes with a strong recommendation that glows in neon: Bill Belichick.

Vital, it must be noted, is also being courted by Tampa Bay and is considered a very strong candidate.

To me, the Belichick recommendation is a two-edged sword. Yes, Belichick knows football and good football men. But it should not escape anyone that his interest is beating the Dolphins as he's done with regularity most of the past dozen or so years.

Also, Belichick can miss. I remind you of his recommendations of Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel for head coaching jobs. 

Finally, the Dolphins today are interviewing Green Bay's Ben McAdoo for the vacant offensive coordinator job. McAdoo, who worked for several years with head coach Joe Philbin in Green Bay, is considered the favorite to land this job.

McAdoo has been Green Bay's tight ends and, lately, the quarterback coach but has never called plays. McAdoo recently interviewed with the New York Giants for their open OC job.

Brian Xanders also a GM candidate

The most obvious hole in the Dolphins general manager search so far had been experience. The team had looked away from multiple candidates who had been general managers in the past. Until now.

Brian Xanders, who served as the Denver general manager from 2009-2012, is expected to interview for the Dolphins job, according to ESPN.

Xanders is the Detroit Lions senior personnel director. He joined the club in 2013 after his situation under John Elway in Denver became untenable.

During his tenure as general manager, the Broncos won the AFC West in 2011 and 2012. 

The Broncos had nine starters from Xanders' draft classes, including three Pro Bowl players while Xanders was still on the job: LB Von Miller, WR Demaryius Thomas and OG Zane Beadles. The opening day roster of the 2013 Broncos had 18 starters from the 2008-12 draft classes.

Before joining the Broncos, Xanders worked 14 seasons with the Atlanta Falcons in various scouting, player personnel, and football operations roles. Xanders attended Florida State University.

Personnel men gather at Shrine game and talk Dolphins

Practices for the East-West Shrine game, which will be played Saturday, started on Monday and not surprisingly a lot of the talk among the men of the NFL scouting and personnel community included the Dolphins, their current search for a general manager, and rumors that have been swirling around the team.

Let's address some of those rumors and bring as much clarity as possible based on the latest reporting on the topics:

There have been whispers that San Francisco 49ers offensive consultant Eric Mangini might eventually have a position with the Dolphins -- either in personnel or some other way -- after the 49ers current playoff run is over.

Part of those came from league sources that know Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wanted to add Mangini to the organization after 2011 and that Executive vice president of football administration Dawn Aponte formed a bond with Mangini when both were with the Jets. Later, when Mangini went to Cleveland, Aponte joined him there. When he was fired, Aponte was also made aware she was no longer needed.

[Update: The Dolphins called to say Aponte left Cleveland one year before Mangini was fired.]

Well, I'm told by club sources Mangini is not an option "at this time" and his name has "so far" not come up in discussions for any position with the team.

Aponte's name has come up at the Shrine practices because, well, the NFL is a good ol' boys network and she's not part of the network. And there are questions about her role with the Dolphins going forward. The fact she is part of interview process has made some personnel people around the league wonder what role she'll serve in helping the next Miami general manager do his job picking talent.

Let's clear that up now as well: I'm told by multiple Dolphins people Aponte will have no personnel role. The general manager will oversee personnel and report to owner Stephen Ross. Interestingly, however, even as the GM won't answer to either Aponte or head coach Joe Philbin, the plan currently is they will not answer to him, either.

The fact there are rumors about this at the gathering of multiple scouts, general managers and others personnel people should not be ignored. Being on everyone's lips in this setting is not a good thing in this instance. The fact is although former general manager Jeff Ireland was not among the more well liked personnel men in the league, he was, good or bad, part of the so-called club. And the division between the Dolphins personnel department and coach Joe Philbin and Aponte is well known now. 

There's not a whole lot the Dolphins can do about this gossip among league people other than hire a legitimate new general manager, not extend the process too long, not drop the ball by having the top candidates decline the job, and then letting the man filling the vacancy do his work without drama.

(This is in everyone's best interest including Ross, who has had multiple unseemly episodes under his ownership including the soured relationship of Ireland and Tony Sparano and then Ireland and coach Joe Philbin. It's also in the best interest of Philbin and Aponte to make nice with the incoming GM because they failed to get along with the last one, so the next time they have an issue with anyone, it will seem more a reflection on them than the new general manager).

Another topic that has not escaped scrutiny at the Shrine gathering is the fact the Dolphins have completely dismissed experienced general managers in this process. The team has shown no apparent interest in interviewing former New England and Kansas City personnel man Scott Pioli, former San Diego general manager A.J. Smith, or former Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo.

The Dolphins clearly have focused in on wanting an "up and comer" or a  "star in the making," according to one team source.


The Dolphins conducted no interviews for either their general manager or offensive coordinator vacancies on Monday.

Finally, it seems personnel people around the league are watching closely to see who the Dolphins hire. The thinking is most young, hungry personnel men who want to be a GM would be eager to take the Miami interview if offered.

It is a commodity in a year only two GM jobs came open. But the issue is not who interviews.

League people are watching to see if the Dolphins can actually close the deal. Can they hire their guy once they identify him in the interviews?

Ross, little known in league circles despite owning the Dolphins since 2009, nonetheless has something of a reputation for not being able to close. That's ironic for a man who made billions in real estate.

Ross couldn't close the deal for Jim Harbaugh when he wanted him in 2011. He couldn't close the deal for Jeff Fisher when he offered him the head coach job in 2012. He could not close with fellow owners in trying to get a Super Bowl to South Florida. And, it turns out, he could barely get in the running for Peyton Manning when that sweepstakes was at its height -- with sources saying recently the Dolphins needed to rely on Dan Marino to ask Manning as a personal favor to take a meeting with the Dolphins.

So the question that lingers is once the Dolphins pick their top finalist for the general manager job, will they be able to do what is necessary to convince him to take the job? At that point, the power shifts from the interviewers to the finalist. At that point the finalist can begin to make demands and it doesn't necessarily have to do with just money.

Will the Dolphins be able to hire their leading candidate? Or will they have to decide on a second option -- like when they stayed with Sparano in 2011 and hired Philbin in 2012?

Stay tuned.