« One interview done, one interview ongoing for the Miami Dolphins | Main | 'Retread' coaches cannot, should not be dismissed »

Stephen Ross favorite candidate to this point? The wrong guy

 

'Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.'

--George Santayana

 

Even as the Miami Dolphins wade through the first steps of their current head coaching search, some members of their search committee have favorite candidates early on. One of those is club owner Stephen Ross, who has the ultimate and final say on who his team hires.

And I have been told by multiple people that Ross most likes Adam Gase at the start of these interviews.

That does not mean Gase, the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears, will be chosen as the club's next head coach. Indeed, the Dolphins have already interviewed three men not named Gase -- Mike Smith, Mike Shanahan and Teryl Austin -- and are scheduled to interview Buffalo Bills running backs coach Anthony Lynn Wednesday, former Buffalo head coach Doug Marrone and interim Dolphins coach Dan Campbell on Friday and have Pats offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Pats defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, and Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson on their wish list.

Gase, 37 years old, is scheduled to interview Thursday. He is scheduled to interview with four teams this hiring season so he is a hot name.

And all that is well and good except for one thing:

Adam Gase has been an offensive coordinator in the NFL all of three seasons. He was the OC under John Fox in Denver in 2013-14 and he just completed the 2015 season under Fox as the OC for the Bears.

And the Bears just finished 6-10 despite Gase getting credit for helping quarterback Jay Cutler.

And before that, Gase was fired along with Fox from Denver when that team failed to advance in the AFC playoffs in 2014.

So, yes, the kid is a hot name, but his resume isn't exactly awe inspiring.

Fine, forget that. Erase all that from your mind, in fact. Consider this as more important:

Adam Gase has never been a head coach. Anywhere. And the Dolphins have gone down this purgatory road before.

The Miami Dolphins were once upon a time a team that sought and usually got high-priced, high-caliber head coaches. Don Shula had been to a Super Bowl and an NFL Championship game when he came to Miami. Jimmy Johnson had won two Super Bowls when he came to Miami. Nick Saban had won a national title at LSU when he came to the Dolphins.

But lately the Dolphins have become the minor leagues where coaches come to learn how to be head coaches.

Cam Cameron had never been an NFL head coach or successful head coach anywhere when he was hired by Miami.

Tony Sparano had never been an NFL head coach when he was hired by Miami.

Joe Philbin had never been an NFL head coach when he was hired by Miami.

That's nine seasons of our lives with inexperienced head coaches none of us will ever get back.

Look, I covered these guys. They didn't know what they didn't know when they got here. Indeed, Bill Parcells once told me that he sometimes saw mistakes Sparano was making during the week of preparation and how it might affect the team on game day, and then game day would come and, sure enough, the problem Parcells foresaw happened. But he couldn't or wouldn't tell Sparano not to make the mistake during the week because the team's head coach had to have the authority to do what he believed was right without someone meddling.

Cameron was amazing in that he was disaster. He thought himself the smartest man in the room but he was never the wisest man in the room. He alienated Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor at the same time after his first practice of his only training camp in 2007. (Long story). He wanted his football team to "fail forward fast." He got the bright idea of letting more experienced assistants play head coach in a preseason game in case something ever happened to him. Never mind that he needed all the experience coaching he could get and his assistants had been head coaches before.

Philbin? God bless him, he had no idea what to do in front of a team. So he outlined his postgame speeches on index cards initially until I wrote about it, and it became an embarrassment. He could not deal with players that had alpha personalities. He was sort of passive aggressive with folks in and out of the building. He didn't know how to make friends or allies in the media and wasn't smart enough to even want to. Yes, he tried to adjust but he had trouble being himself.

I remember one time when the ice bucket challenge was a thing, Philbin agreed to take part so that his team would consider him one of guys. So he did it on a day other people were doing it. And after he did it, he walked over to me and mocked the whole thing as dumb. So he did it. But he didn't want to and didn't believe in it. But he couldn't bring himself to be true to himself.

You think Don Shula would have agreed to do things he didn't believe in? He's the guy that often talked about "the courage of your convictions."  Shula wouldn't be bullied by anyone. He once threatened to punch owner Joe Robbie for a perceived moment of disrespect!

What I'm saying is haven't the Dolphins had their fill of hiring guys that need on-the-job training?

Hasn't Stephen Ross learned from his hiring mistakes that he's not really good at identifying new NFL talent? John Harbaugh circa 2008 is not walking through that door, Mr. Ross.

And so what should the Dolphins do?

Well, instead of repeating the same mistake all over again and surely putting themselves on a path to the same results, they should hire a new coach who has head coaching experience.

I get it. This team wants to address their quarterback issue. And Gase seems gifted in that area. But that's what an offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach is supposed to do. That is not what a head coach can necessarily be counted on to do.

The next Dolphins head coach cannot walk into the job and face 50 things he never knew were coming. And that's the first day of work. This organization has wasted time, resources, sweat, blood and hope hiring guys that were unprepared for that because there is no way to be prepared until you've done it.

The fans deserve better.

The team has multiple experienced head coaches on its interview list: Shanahan. Smith. Marrone. Tom Coughlin is out there waiting to be plucked up by a courageous team.

Say what you will about them, but those guys know what they're doing. Shanahan has won Super Bowls, plural. Coughlin has won Super Bowls, plural. Smith has taken his team to the playoffs. Marrone's last Buffalo team was 9-7 in 2014 and you know what their record was under brash, attention getting Rex Ryan in 2015? The Bills were 8-8.

Ah yes, about the sexy coach hire.

Gase I suppose is a sexy pick in some respects because he's the "it guy" now. But this isn't about picking the it guy, this is about picking the right guy.The right guy is one who will command a room and respect. The right guy is one with experience who can fix your quarterback and your defense. The right guy is coming to his interview with big names as his potential coordinators. For example, Marrone will pitch Jim Schwartz, who has been a head coach and is a proven defensive coach, as his defensive coordinator. Gase will likely pitch Vance Joseph, the guy who succeeded Kevin Coyle as the Bengals defensive backs coach and has never been a coordinator, as his defensive coordinator.

 The right guy is the one who knows what to do on Day One.

Comments