Kevin Coyle is staying with the Miami Dolphins and keeping his job as defensive coordinator.
Coyle's status had been uncertain since season's end in part because the Miami defense had a disappointing year and in part because head coach Joe Philbin had not been clear on what direction he was going to take with his assistant after the season.
"I need obviously some time to think about some things," Philbin said the day after Miami's season ended. "The season just ended, but I haven’t made any decisions about any coaches for 2015, none of them.”
That was the last word on the topic from the Dolphins. And so as the weeks passed and there was no factual direction on the matter, speculation grew Philbin was at least considering accomplished defensive coordinators such as Jim Schwartz, Dick LeBeau, Vic Fangio and others after they were discharged from their jobs and became available.
But if the coach entertained such considerations at all, he has now dismissed them.
Coyle remains the Miami defensive coordinator.
And this is what I think: Get used to it. There is little to be gained by arguing the contrary (if that's what you believe) when it absolutely is not going to be done. This is indeed an eletion. But only one man gets a vote. That man is Philbin. And he's cast his vote in favor of Coyle. So wish Coyle success.
The Dolphins need success from Coyle, certainly more than they've had lately.
The defense slumped, particularly late in the season, and finished 20th in the NFL in points allowed. It is their lowest finish in the most important statistical category since 2009.
Interestingly, part of the argument against Coyle is that he took over a defense that was No. 6 in the NFL in points allowed and in his three years the unit regressed to No. 7, No. 8, and then No. 20 last season.
But rather than blaming Coyle for the drop, Philbin is obviously charging Coyle with fixing the problems.
The Dolphins have to find a way to play better late in the season instead of worse. The Dolphins allowed 41, 28, 35 and 37 points the final four games. Cornerstone players such as Brent Grimes, who had been outstanding early in the year, faded for some unknown reason.
Grimes wasn't alone. The Dolphins got more production from their entire defensive line earlier in the season than it did after about the halfway mark. And, interestingly, the linebacker corps seemed to be more productive early in the year when there was uncertainty and unexpected injuries (such as Dannell Ellerbe going out for the year and Koa Misi missing multiple weeks) than later in the year.
Coyle has admitted he needs to figure out a plan this offseason for maximizing, and indeed developing, Dion Jordan. Jordan was a No. 3 overall selection out of Oregan in 2013. For multiple reasons including a shoulder issue and an NFL suspension he has failed to get fully integrated into the Miami system.
The Dolphins at times use him as a 4-3 defensive end. And sometimes they use him as a strongside linebacker. So what is he?
Coyle is a proponent of the 4-3 defense and so his retention likely means the Dolphins will remain a base 4-3 team. Early in the coach's Miami career that was something of an issue because the personnel Coyle inherited had been acquired to play a 3-4 scheme.
One assumes another offseason in which the personnel department seeks talent upgrades for the scheme Coyle intends to run may help that matter.
And help is definitely necessary.
The Dolphins this offseason have obvious needs at linebacker -- particularly middle linebacker where the Misi experiment did not -- and cornerback, where the Dolphins may lose Cortland Finnegan to retirement.
(Finnegan has not announced his final intention to retire but he hinted at it previously and brought numerous family and friends to the Miami season-finale so they could ostensibly watch him play one final NFL game).
Even if Finnegan tries to play again, he also was not very good after he suffered a high ankle sprain midway through the season.
The Dolphins also have a number of free agents from the defensive side of the ball, including Jared Odrick, Louis Delmas and Jimmy Wilson, so the return of those players is uncertain. The team also may make salary cap related moves concerning Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler.
So in that respect the defense may be changing in 2015.
But the defensive coordinator will not.