January 12, 2016

Miami Dolphins waive Jason Fox

Jason Fox got the chance to do great work for the Miami Dolphins this season because starting right tackle Ja'Wuan James went down Oct. 29 with a foot injury.

So the team's No. 3 tackle got to start nine consecutive games at right tackle.

And the Dolphins were disappointed after four games.

And the Dolphins knew they were about to go in a different direction after six games. If you remember this post back in November, today's move doesn't surprise.

And today the Dolphins waived Fox with one year remaining on his contract.

Fox played in 24 games over the past two seasons for Miami. He started 13 total games, 11 at right tackle and two at left tackle after originally signing with the Dolphins on April 2, 2014 as an unrestricted free agent.

During his six-year NFL career, Fox played 37 career games and made 16 starts. He entered the league as a fourth-round selection (128th overall) by the Detroit Lions in the 2010 NFL draft after completing his collegiate career at the University of Miami.

Fox was scheduled to make $1.28 million in base salary in 2016. The Dolphins save $1.38 million in cap space with this move. Fox will cost $138,000 in dead money on the Dolphins 2016 cap.

This is, by the way, the first of multiple and expected moves by the Dolphins to shed cap space and players who did not live up to their salaries.

The team will search for a backup tackle this offseason and that search might include but won't be limited to asking either Billy Turner or Dallas Thomas to work at right tackle. The Dolphins are not thrilled with the play of their guards, either.

January 11, 2016

Dolphins to address protection for Ryan Tannehill!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I heard this from a Miami Dolphins source over the weekend: "You were right about Dallas Thomas. And we were wrong."

And I thought to myself, Hallelujah, there is hope!

What was meant by that is that the Dolphins, with new head coach Adam Gase on board, are going to take up the assignment of making quarterback Ryan Tannehill (not Derek Carr) a better player. And one way they are going to do that is to improve the protection for Tannehill, who has been sacked 184 times in four seasons.

If you watched the NFL Wild Card games over the weekend you saw the difference between Aaron Rodgers when he's getting little protection -- throwing off the back foot and falling away from throws -- and Aaron Rodgers when he is getting protection and playing up to the star he is. You saw that without protection Ben Roethlisberger was driven into the turf and injured his shoulder. You saw that without protection neither Teddy Bridgewater nor Russell Wilson could generate much offense in a 10-9 game.

So Gase, who makes protecting the quarterback a top priority, is going to do what he can to protect Tannehill.

And I cannot tell you that will make Tannehill a great quarterback.

But I can tell that may make guards Dallas Thomas and/or Billy Turner gone from the starting lineup in 2016.

The Dolphins, you see, projected both those two players to step up this season and blossom. And both had their good moments, that is true. But neither was good with any sort of consistency. Indeed, both were rated at the bottom of the grades for guards by ProFootballFocus.

And so the Dolphins will address the guard spot this offseason. Previously, I wrote the Dolphins likely wouldn't be doing much with their guards, at least not with big-time free agents or high draft picks. But we we were still in-season, the team had a different general manager, and the new coach hadn't been hired.

All that has changed now and so has the team's intentions as it pertains to the offensive line.

By the way, there will be other ways the Dolphins intend to protect Tannehill. It will have to do with the tempo of the offense -- they want to speed it up a bit. It'll have to do with routes run and the timing of the quarterback and receivers.

Gase simply does not want to get his QB hit. The new coach is credited with the improvement of Jay Cutler in Chicago in 2015, in that he got Cutler to cut down on his interceptions. What people sometimes miss is that Cutler was sacked 10 times less in 2015 under Gase's system than the previous year.

This matters.

One more thing: When the Dolphins told me I was right on Thomas, I got no great satisfaction from it. The truth is mostly everyone had doubts about the Miami guard situation before the season began. So no biggie. My response to that comment was deadpan. I was right on Joe Philbin, too, I responded. He should have been gone after 2013.

 

January 10, 2016

Gase to address Dolphins' quarterback-head coach relationship

The Miami Dolphins were all smiles and good tidings on Saturday afternoon because they got their man in Adam Gase.

Right or wrong, whatever you think of this hire, it is the first time during owner Stephen Ross's tenure that a Dolphins search on the football side has quickly identified a No. 1 target, homed in on that target, and hit that target flush. No flubs. No stiff-arm rejections. No contentious negotiations.

And the process had some highly interesting moments and reasons for going where it did. I write about those in my column in today's Miami Herald.

I encourage you to go to that piece because I believe it adds some insight to this search and the direction the Dolphins are going that you absolutely will not get anywhere else.

Now, having said that, the newspaper column has the disadvantage of being constrained by space. Over here on my blog, there are no space limits because the internet is not yet full. So I must expand on something that, frankly, was buried in my column, and that is the idea that former Dolphins coach Joe Philbin didn't feel fully comfortable with quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

This was a revelation to me. And it explained a lot of things.

So let me expand on it:

After the 2013 season, the Dolphins were awash in drama. GM Jeff Ireland and Philbin were not playing nice with each other. Ross was listening to each and deciding how to resolve the rift -- he decided to fire Ireland. And the idea that offensive coordinator Mike Sherman had to go was being debated. And Philbin didn't want Sherman fired.

So, I am told, as he tried to save his assistant and friend, Philbin blamed the problems of the Dolphins offense on the players in general and Tannehill in particular. All this was done within the private confines of the team's practice facility while publicly Philbin followed the narrative that Tannehill was improving and simply needed more work.

In fact, Philbin was not a Tannehill believer as he led everyone to believe.

It even reached the point Philbin wanted to replace Tannehill.

Before the 2014 draft, I am told Philbin pushed for the Dolphins to draft another quarterback. And he didn't want to just draft a quarterback sometime during the multi-day event, like in the late rounds. He wanted a quarterback in the first round. The team was locked in on addressing the offensive line to protect Tannehill. The team was focused on Ja'Waun James in the first round.

Joe Philbin wanted the Dolphins to draft Derek Carr in the first round instead of James.

Dennis Hickey went with the offensive lineman, as was his power to do. And he picked Jarvis Landry in the second round. The Dolphins made improvement to positions around Tannehill to make him better rather than replace him like Philbin wanted.

But then, under a new offensive coordinator and scheme, Tannehill got off to a rocky start in 2014. So did his head coach stand up in public and support Tannehill and insist that Tannehill was the answer, and his guy, and there was nothing to see here?

No.

Before a trip to London to play, not coincidently Carr and the Oakland Raiders, Philbin refused to utter words that should have come easily to him. He refused to say Tannehill was his starter. Remember that?

History tells us that Tannehill improved dramatically after that. And being led by the changing wind as he sometimes was, Philbin moved toward his QB. In fact, when the Dolphins hired Dan Marino and Marino seemed to get close to Tannehill, Philbin resented it. He wanted only offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and QB coach Zac Taylor in Tannehill's ear.

(By the way,  Marino knows a thing or two about playing QB. He's in the Hall of Fame. And although Marino was careful not to step on toes, if he wanted to help Tannehill, neither Philbin nor anyone on the coaching staff was going to stop him. Indeed, Tannehill, starved for help and support, welcomed it).

Despite Tannehill's improvement the last three months of the 2014 season, whenever things got sideways, the coach showed he wasn't a believer in Tannehill. Remember he got "queasy" with the idea of putting the 2014 Green Bay game in Tannehill's hands?

Early in the 2015 season. Philbin privately seemed to focus much of his dissatisfaction or frustration on Tannehill.

And, as I wrote, it became clear to the new Dolphins hierarchy that the coach was not completely in the QB's corner.

That is one reason Adam Gase is the new head coach today. Gase knows he was hired to make Ryan Tannehill a player. He knows he was hired to forge a relationship with Tannehill and work together with Tannehill to get things right at the quarterback position for the Miami Dolphins. 

Clearly, Gase is aware Tannehill hasn't been confident in the people that were supposed to be on his side. Gase wants to change that.

"I think he needs a guy that’s going to have his back; that he feels comfortable with right out the gate," Gase said. "And I’m going to be working directly with him. And then I am going to hire guys on the offensive staff to also help him develop. I feel like when we do put a staff together we are all going to be able to help him get a little bit better."

 

January 09, 2016

Adam Gase is the Miami Dolphins new head coach

Adam Gase, 37, is the new head coach of the Miami Dolphins and the youngest head coach in the league.

The team picked Gase Friday evening after the last of seven interviews was complete, and immediately began negotiations which carried into Saturday morning and early afternoon. And now Gase has agreed to a five-year deal. A 3 p.m. introductory press conference is scheduled.

“We did exhaustive research on all of the candidates ahead of time and conducted thorough and detailed interviews with each person,” Dolphins Owner and Managing General Partner Stephen Ross said. “In the end, I was convinced and the search committee was unanimous Adam was the right leader for our football team who best met all of our priorities. He has high energy, is competitive and driven to win with a mindset of teaching and developing players.  ”

So what do the Dolphins get?

Well, they get a lot of questions but that comes later. Gase was among the hottest, if not the hottest coach candidate on the circuit this hiring cycle. He interviewed in Cleveland, Philadelphia and with the New York Giants. Come to think of it, he was very well regarded during the 2015 hiring cycle, with reports suggesting he turned down the San Francisco 49ers job because he didn't want to have certain assistants hoisted onto his staff that he didn't pick.

So that suggests Gase is his own man. That's good because he's going to have to be his own man every day in front of 53 of the world's best athletes. And given his youth and modest credentials, that should be interesting. The Dolphins, by owner Stephen Ross's own admission, need a culture change.

Gase is thus charged with implementing that change.

But here's the most important thing you have to know: Adam Gase is with the Miami Dolphins to become a coach, friend, mentor, and guru to quarterback Ryan Tannehill. If managing as football CEO is Job One, managing the QB will be close behind.

That's because as Tannehill goes, so will the Dolphins fortunes. And the fortunes of the people who picked and paid Tannehill $96 million.

So Gase must fix Ryan Tannehill. He must turn a former college receiver into a quarterback. Many NFL teams have done that the other way around -- turning college quarterbacks to wide receivers. None I can think of have done it the other way around. Tannehill would be the first.

And the Dolphins are confident Gase can do that otherwise he wouldn't be here.

Gase, something of a quarterback whisperer, is going to make sure Tannehill is comfortable. Gase's offense culls material from various schemes and philosophies but depends heavily on Mike Martz concepts. Mike Martz, the former longtime NFL coordinator and St. Louis Rams head coach, liked to attack downfield with his passing game.

Interestingly, Gase tries to walk the line between attacking downfield and protecting the QB.

Those two are often exclusive because it takes time to throw downfield and that often exposes the QB to being hit a lot. Tannehill has also had well chronicled issues with his deep ball accuracy. So we'll see.

Gase comes with the high public recommendation from the likes of Peyton Manning and John Elway, whom he worked with and for with the Denver Broncos. Manning has called Gase "the smartest man in the room," and not in a disparaging way. Manning has said he enjoyed his time working with Gase. And that time led to a Super Bowl appearance in February 2014.

And Gase was considered for the vacant Broncos head coaching job when Elway fired John Fox in early 2015.

That's good stuff.

But there's also this:

Manning has also shared that the offense the Broncos ran when Gase was there was primarily his offense. Manning often checked to plays of his choosing at the line of scrimmage so Gase wasn't necessarily calling all the plays. And Elway interviewed Gase, but hired the more experienced and familiar (to Elway) Gary Kubiak.

So they loved Gase. But they didn't looooove him. 

Reactions are mixed with this hiring. Many Dolphins fans are not impressed. Many within the NFL community tell me the Dolphins have hit a home run.

We'll know soon enough which is right.

I reported days ago that Gase would want Cincinnati defensive backs coach Vance Joseph as his defensive coordinator. That is, indeed, the way this could go unless Joseph gets promoted in Cincinnati, goes with Hue Jackson wherever he might be hired, or is hired as a head coach. Joseph has never been a coordinator before.

Adam Gase inches closer to being the Miami Dolphins new head coach

You want blow by blow of the Miami Dolphins coach search? Here it is:

The Miami Dolphins are currently in contract negotiations with Adam Gase to make him their next head coach. A deal is not complete at this moment. Both sides expect a deal to get done, however, perhaps before the end of Saturday. Gase will be in South Florida.

So barring a last-minute glitch, Adam Gase.

ESPN reported Gase was headed to South Florida for a second interview. That's not exactly true. Gase isn't interviewing again. He's the guy. The Dolphins just want him in town as the negotiation proceeds. (They'll be talking a lot over the next few years).

Gase is only 37-years-old, has never been a head coach anywhere, and has been an offensive coordinator only three years but the Miami Dolphins fell in love with him as soon as they talked to him. Actually before they talked to him, if you realize owner Stephen Ross picked Gase as his favorite head coach candidate well before interviewing him, as I was first to report.

Gase beat out six other candidates -- including three former head coaches and interim coach Dan Campbell -- who interviewed for the job since the season ended Jan. 3.

On the plus side of this search: The Dolphins did fast work. Only time will tell if they did good work. But they definitely did quick work.

Gase will be Miami's 12th head coach since 1966 when the franchise was established. But  more importantly, and ominously, he will be the fifth head coach since Ross took over controlling ownership in 2009. 

Interestingly, if these negotiations bear fruit it will mark the first time a football search headed by Ross lands the owner's favorite candidate.

Ross wanted to hire Jim Harbaugh as his coach in 2011 but was rebuffed. Ross initially wanted Jeff Fisher as coach in 2012 but was turned down again. He offered the job to more than one general manager candidate in 2014, according to multiple reports, but could not land one until Dennis Hickey, a late candidate, finally accepted.

At least Ross is apparently closing the deal this time.

Stay tuned.

 

January 08, 2016

All signs point to Adam Gase as Dolphins next head coach

The Miami Dolphins seem en route to picking Adam Gase as their next head coach. He will interview a second time Saturday for the vacant post, ESPN reported first Friday evening. And the team is not denying or pushing back against any of this.

So, Adam Gase.

All signs point to Gase as the next head coach of the Miami Dolphins if he and the team suffer no setbacks during their meeting Saturday.

Gase is the man owner Stephen Ross had as his favorite before the interviews even began.

Interestingly, I was told other men on the Dolphins' search committee had other favorites before the process began. I know of one member of the committee who entered the process thinking former Buffalo coach Doug Marrone was the best fit for the Dolphins.

Marrone interviewed Friday as did interim coach Dan Campbell, as did Mike Smith, Mike Shanahan, Teryl Austin, and Anthony Lynn before that.

And through it all, Gase, the owner's fave, sails through to a second interview.

Interestingly, the Dolphins had Cincinnati offensive coordinator Hue Jackson scheduled for a first interview Sunday. That is not going to happen. A league source said Friday night Jackson is not expecting to meet with Miami now.

Some thoughts here:

Assuming nothing snags Gase's hiring -- such as this second meeting, contract (unlikely) or certain other demands -- he will become the fourth consecutive inexperienced head coach the Dolphins will hire and second straight under Ross's ownership. Gase has never been an NFL head coach, just like Cam Cameron, Tony Sparano and Joe Philbin had not. Indeed, Gase has never been a head coach anywhere.

The idea here seems to be that the Dolphins truly want to get their quarterback right. Ryan Tannehill got a big contract this year and didn't play up to the new money. If that trend continues, the player and the people who gave him his deal are likely out within a couple of years.

So the probable Gase hire would make sense in that regard. Gase, 37, has done good work in Denver and Chicago as the offensive coordinator. Notice I said good work. The Broncos had Peyton Manning. The Bears offense was in tatters because of injuries much of the year and Gase still got Jay Cutler to post his highest career quarterback rating.

Gase is known as being able to adapt to the skillset of his players. Yes, he has a system. But he's not married to that thing. He is married to Jennifer, the daughter of New Orleans assistant Joe Vitt. Gase is known for being able to take what his players are able to give and highlight those while trying to hide their flaws. Gase is known as kind of a no-nonsense, stoic guy. The Dolphins must hope that carries over in a locker room that needs more leadership.

But again, inexperience.

Inexperience.

Inexperience.

One more thing: This is Stephen Ross's choice because it was his pick when this all began. Just as Joe Philbin was his pick, just as keeping Jeff Ireland after he fired Tony Sparano was his pick, just as Dennis Hickey was his pick, just as hiring Mike Tannenbaum to basically replace Hickey was his pick. The owner's reputation is on the line.

Because his track record hiring on the football side has not been stellar.

This Miami Dolphins search is different -- Thank you, God!

The first work week of interviews for the Miami Dolphins head coaching job is just about complete. The team has interviewed six candidates, is currently interviewing a seventh in Doug Marrone, and is scheduled to add an eighth on Sunday when Hue Jackson is interviewed in Cincinnati.

And as I look around, I don't see problems.

I don't see pratfalls.

I don't see embarrassment.

Is this a Dolphins search?

You'll recall the Dolphins general manager search of 2014 had its, shall we say, issues. The Dolphins head coach search of 2012 did as well. Guys turning down the job. Guys turning down interviews. Guys accepting first interviews and then turning down second interviews, by implication saying that once they got to know the Dolphins brass they didn't want anything more to do with them. There was even a story of the owner forgetting a candidate's name.

But this search so far has gone without a reported hitch. It's been smooth from my view -- which admittedly is not on the inside, but neither were those others which I covered.

This is good so far. Very good.

So far.

And I think I can go further: When you look at the list of candidates the Dolphins have interviewed and compare it to the list of candidates other teams are working off of, I like Miami's approach much more.

Consider that only the Dolphins have so far interviewed former Atlanta head coach Mike Smith. Only the Dolphins have so far interviewed two-time Super Bowl winning coach Mike Shanahan. That speaks to a willingness to go to places and turn over rocks other teams haven't.

The Dolphins are one of the few teams talking to Anthony Lynn, the Buffalo running back coach, again showing a willingness to do what is unconventional.

The Dolphins have also interviewed many of the so-called top candidates that are making the rounds everywhere else. They talked to Chicago offensive coordinator Adam Gase, who has interviewed with a handful of teams. They're talking to Marrone, who also is interviewing with a handful of teams. They interviewed with Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, who, again, is interviewing with a handful of teams.

And even in interviewing their former interim coach Dan Campbell, the Dolphins have done the right thing. The team promised Campbell he'd get a shot at the prize when he accepted the interim post in October. It might have been easy to back away from that after Campbell went an unimpressive 5-7 as the interim. But no, the team stayed true to its promise and Friday morning gave Campbell his shot.

Obviously, this is only the first stage of this interview process. And time will give us a chance to learn more about how the Dolphins conducted their business behind closed doors. Trust me on this.

But unless guys were falling asleep in there or being unprofessional in some unforeseen way, I don't see anything that will cause us to view this search with a sideways glance.

One thing: The team did want to interview both New England coordinators, Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, per national reports -- which I have not been able to verify. Those have not happened as of this writing. Is that the Dolphins getting snubbed? No, it isn't because those two haven't interviewed anywhere else so far. The team also wants to interview Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter but the fact it hasn't happened yet also doesn't raise flags because Koetter is on several interview lists and hasn't done anything elsewhere yet. 

Finally, the cynics out there are going to scoff at this, but I think it is only fair to point out that Mike Tannenbaum is running this search. And it has a different look and feel than any other search the Dolphins have conducted recently. The difference?

It hasn't made me cringe yet.

Thank you, God!

January 07, 2016

Issues Dolphins head coach candidates must absolutely address in their interviews

If you want to get a clue who will be the next head coach of the Miami Dolphins, even as the interviews are ongoing, think quarterback and defense. In that order.

Simply, the Dolphins want to hear from the men they are interviewing for the head coach job how they propose to fix quarterback Ryan Tannehill and how they will address a defense that has been regressing in many regards for four years despite vast resources spent on the unit.

And as I look at the list of candidates the Dolphins have and are scheduled to talk to during this search, I can see men that should have great plans for one half of that question.

The problem is it's a two-part question.

I assume Mike Smith, a former defensive coach, had ideas about what to do with the Miami defense. I assume Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, who coached Ndamukong Suh before the defensive tackle came to Miami, had a plan for the defense. I assume on Friday when Doug Marrone interviews for the job, he will have a great plan for the defense because he's going to hire Jim Schwartz as the defensive coordinator.

(Schwartz also coached Suh in Detroit and has a great reputation around the NFL as a fine defensive coach).

On the flip side, I'm fairly certain Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase impressed when he spoke about what he'd do with and for Tannehill. I'm quite certain the Dolphins know Mike Shanahan helped John Elway get from being a great quarterback with no Super Bowl success to a Super Bowl champion and he made Robert Griffin III look pretty good his rookie year. (Shanahan probably had to explain what happened the following year).

I am certain when the team interviews Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson on Sunday, he'll point to his work with Andy Dalton and, depending on what happens in the Wild Card playoff game, what A.J. McCarron did in the playoffs.

Frankly, I have no idea how Dan Campbell and Buffalo running back coach Anthony Lynn addressed or will address the two issues.

I know this about Campbell: He can command a room. So he'll do that when he meets with the search committee at the Dolphins facility Friday. It's his home turf, so he should be comfortable. But he has no chance to get this job unless he comes into the room with the names of two highly experienced and impressive candidates he can say he will surely hire as his offensive and defensive coordinators. Without those two names, Campbell has no chance. With those two names and a degree of certainty he can get them, Campbell will have a shot.

Lynn is a mystery to me. And please assign that to my ignorance about the candidate rather than a lack of credibility for the coach. My bad. Not his.

Anyway, if you comprehend the paragraphs you've just read, you quickly get the picture that none of these candidates comes to the interview room with strengths both on offense and defense.

The coaches with offensive backgrounds can say they'll fix Tannehill.

The coaches with defensive backgrounds or, in Marrone's case, a candidate with a great defensive coordinator waiting in the wings, can say they have the answer for the defense -- and their $19 million-a-year investment in Suh.

But who is going to do the crossover trick?

Will Marrone, a former offensive lineman and OL guru, have the right QB coach or OC in his bag of tricks?

Did Gase, a QB whisperer, put forward an experienced and proven defensive coordinator candidate?

Was Shanahan open enough to admit he might hire his son Kyle to run the offense and did he come with a solution to the defense?

What's Hue Jackson's answer on defense?

The man with the best two answers should have a great chance of being the next coach.

Oh, by the way, this is what I was told would happen before the interviews began. The Dolphins have failed miserably on this front before. You'll recall that when Joe Philbin was hired, everyone assumed it meant he would be able to energize a comatose Dolphins offense and serve as the mentor to the next quarterback because, after all, he came as the offensive coordinator at Green Bay and the man who helped Aaron Rodgers become Aaron Rodgers.

And then he got to Miami. And the media asked him questions. And we learned in the span of about an hour that Philbin wasn't really the mastermind behind the Green Bay offense because that was head coach Mike McCarthy. And we further learned Philbin wasn't really the mentor for Rodgers because that was the quarterback coach up there.

Philbin freely admitted this stuff. It was no secret.

And yet, he got somehow got hired by the folks doing the interviews who must have known they needed to address the offense and the QB situation.

The folks doing this set of interviews are different in some regards than the previous set of folks. Some people are holdovers. Some are not. You better hope the new folks have the issues the Dolphins need to address on the agenda during these interviews. I've been told they do.

We'll see.

 

 

January 06, 2016

'Retread' coaches cannot, should not be dismissed

The best argument against the so-called retread head coach candidate is this: He failed at his last stop. He was fired. Why would we want to hire him here?

And sure enough, it is true that coaches with experience that are interviewing for the Miami Dolphins coaching job starting this week were indeed failures at post stops and were in fact fired. All except for Doug Marrone, who was not fired but rather opted out of his contract in Buffalo, a fact that raises its own questions and should be a topic of discussion at his interview.

But I am here to tell you that past failure is not always indicative of future failure when it comes to the hiring of NFL head coaches.

Indeed, if you look at the list of Super Bowl winning coaches this century, there are plenty of men who failed at their first or even second head coaching stop and then went on to hold the Vince Lombardi Trophy aloft in celebration.

Dick Vermeil held the trophy victoriously on Jan. 30, 2000. He hadn't won it at his previous stop in Philadelphia.

Bill Belichick won the Super Bowl in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2015. If only the Cleveland Browns, who fired him in the 1990s would've known.

Jon Gruden won the Super Bowl in 2001 for Tampa Bay. He had been traded from the Oakland Raiders because Al Davis didn't want to extend his contract at the pay the coach was surely about to command.

Tony Dungy won the Super Bowl in 2007 with Indianapolis after he'd been fired by Tampa Bay.

Tom Coughlin was fired by Jacksonville and he rebounded well because in his second NFL stint he took the Giants to two Super Bowl championships, in 2008 and 2012.

Pete Carroll washed out as the head coach of the New York Jets and New England Patriots but has taken his Seattle Seahawks to consecutive Super Bowl games, winning in 2014.

This speaks nothing of the fact two coaches on their second NFL head coaching stop -- Mike Holmgren and John Fox -- also took teams to the Super Bowl this century and lost the game.

So of the 16 Super Bowl games played since 2000, representing 32 opportunities to appear in the game, "retread" coaches took their teams to the game 16 times, and won the NFL's greatest prize 10 times.

Hiring retread coaches is not a bad idea, folks.

Still, there will be people that insist that hiring a retread is picking up someone else's trash and calling it treasure. You have no idea how many people lately have been tweeting to me @ArmandoSalguero or making comments in the section below about how some of the current "retreads" deserve no long look because they've recently failed.

They point to Mike Smith, who interviewed with the Dolphins on Monday and say he was 4-12 and 6-10 his last two seasons in Atlanta.

They point to Mike Shanahan, who interviewed on Tuesday, and say he was 3-13 his final season in Washington.

They point to Marrone, who is scheduled to interview Friday, and ask why? After all, he was 6-10 and 9-7 in Buffalo.

They point to Hue Jackson, who is scheduled to interview Sunday, and ask why? After all, he was 8-8 in his one-and-done season with the Oakland Raiders.

They even look at Coughlin and mock my idea the Dolphins should speak to him because he was 12-20 his last two years with the New York Giants.

These records are all facts. They are indisputable. But they aren't gospel. As reader Onix Torres pointed out to me, previous failure does not necessarily mean future failure.

Andy Reid, for example, was 4-12 his final year in Philadelphia and was then fired. Yeah, he is 31-17 in Kansas City, including two 11-5 seasons. And he's in the playoffs again this year.

Gary Kubiak was 2-11 his final year in Houston and then was fired before the season ended. And he's 12-4 this year in Denver and his team has home field advantage throughout the AFC tournament.

Belichick -- I love this one -- was 5-11 in Cleveland his final year and then he was fired. He's 187-69 in New England with four Super Bowl titles, and 12 out of the last 13 AFC East titles.

Pete Carroll was only a Philbinish 8-8 his final year in New England before he was fired. He's 60-36 with a Super Bowl win in Seattle.

Before he won those two Super Bowl titles with the New York Giants, Coughlin was 6-10 his last two years in Jacksonville.

I am not saying every "retread" coach is bound to become a winner. That's not what this is about. What I am saying is that people can learn. They can improve. Adjust. They can fail through extenuating circumstances at one place and then succeed wildly under a different set of circumstances someplace else.

This is not formulaic.

It does not mean every 'retread" is bound to succeed, either. That's an obtuse thought.

But it is simply wrong to argue that because a coach failed at his previous stop, he will fail at the next one.

All those raised Lombardi Trophies prove otherwise.

January 05, 2016

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.

One interview done, one interview ongoing for the Miami Dolphins

Busy day of coach interviews for the Miami Dolphins today.

The club has concluded its interview of two-time Super Bowl winning coach Mike Shanahan. The interview in New York began early this morning. There is no information how that went at this point and, if the Dolphins can help it, there will be no such leaks.

Shanahan, 63, last coached in 2013 at Washington. He's been out of coaching but is suddenly hot again. He will be meeting with the San Francisco 49ers soon and perhaps other teams thereafter.

[Update: ESPN reports the meeting with Shanahan has been "put on hold."]

The club is currently in the process of interviewing Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. The Austin interview is logical because he interviewed for multiple jobs last year and will interview for others this year. He is, by most accounts, an impressive individual.

What that means is this is a legit thing, folks.

Having said that, Austin is black. So once this interview is over, the Dolphins will have met the Rooney Rule requirement that must be met before hiring a new coach.

After today, the Dolphins will have interviewed three candidates -- Mike Smith on Monday, Shanahan this morning and Austin this afternoon.

Previously, I reported Doug Marrone would interview with the Dolphins and now we know when that is scheduled. Marrone, the former Buffalo Bills head coach, is scheduled to meet with Miami on Friday, one day after he interviews in Cleveland.

And, yes, Friday should be a busy day for Dolphins brass. They are also scheduled to interview Dan Campbell that day.

January 04, 2016

The latest on Dolphins coaching search PLUS a great idea

The Miami Dolphins will continue their head coach search at team headquarters in New York City Tuesday.

The club is scheduled to interview former two-time Super Bowl winning coach Mike Shanahan, search point man Mike Tannenbaum said Monday. And Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin also is scheduled to interview.

The schedule the remainder of the week per multiple sources:

Buffalo Bills running back coach Anthony Lynn is scheduled to interview on Wednesday. Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase is scheduled to interview on Thursday.

Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell, who had a 5-7 record during his stint, is scheduled to interview on Friday.

That will round out a week that included former Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith's interview on Monday.

Assistant coaches under contract to playoff clubs that have byes in the Wild Card games may be interviewed for head coaching positions through the conclusion of those games Jan. 11. That means New England's Josh McDaniels and New England's Matt Patricia must interview this Saturday or Sunday if they wish to be considered immediately. Mike Shula is also on a team with a bye but apparently he has told people he's not interested in interviewing for any position until the Carolina Panthers are done playing.

Assistant coaches whose teams lost in the wild card round can obviously interview at any point next week. But assistant coaches under contract to a team that won wild card games can be interviewed through the conclusion of divisional playoff games January 17. That can affect someone such as Cincinnati's Hue Jackson, who the Dolphins have asked permission to interview.

If you look at this list of candidates, which is perhaps not complete because the Dolphins do not confirm candidates until after they interview, it confirms what Tannenbaum said when he mentioned exploring various types of men with vastly different experiences.

There are former head coaches in the field, such as Smith, Doug Marrone and Shanahan.

There are coordinators in the field, such as Austin (defensive), McDaniels (offensive), Patricia (defensive), Jackson (offensive) and Gase (offensive).

There is a position coach in Lynn. (John Harbaugh, who I think is a pretty great head coach, was a position coach before he got the Baltimore job).

But I find it interesting there are no stars. And definitely no superstars.

Chip Kelly was vacationing in Key West recently. The Dolphins have shown no interest best I can figure.

Sean Payton has signaled he's ready to jump from New Orleans and the asking price is a No. 2 draft pick. The Dolphins, you'll remember, talked to me about giving up two No. 3s instead. But either Payton isn't interested in them or they aren't interested in him or both, based on what has transpired so far.

And I simply find it hard to believe Stephen Ross is going to be fine without at least making a pitch for a big-name talent. By the way, Ross is in New York. The Dolphins search committee is now in New York. What just happened in New York on Monday? What important NFL coaching story just shook Gotham?

Thinking ....

Oh yeah, Tom Coughlin stepped down as the New York Giants head coach at age 69. He didn't want to. This was Coughlin seeing the writing on the wall (Book of Daniel for you heathens) and beating a graceful retreat instead of waiting to be fired. But he still wants to coach. And far-fetched as this sounds, why wouldn't the Dolphins talk to the guy?

He's in New York. They're in New York. The Dolphins are all about New York!!!!

Yes, Coughlin is going to be 70 soon enough. So hiring him would not be a five-year fix.

But here's the thing: This year's crop of coaching talent is "horrible," as one league source told me Sunday. Another called it, "weak." It is especially bad if Payton doesn't want to come to Miami (that's my guess of what this is about).

So here is a crazy, out-of-the-box idea: The Dolphins interview Coughlin. And they interview everyone else they are considering. And if Coughlin still has his fastball, I go with Coughlin.

As long as he lets Campbell be on his staff -- kind of as the coach in waiting. This will require Campbell to also nail his interview, by the way.

Anyway, you hire Coughlin, you know he's going to be able to put together a strong staff because he's Tom freakin' Coughlin. And putting together a strong staff is a major consideration for the Dolphins. And you know he's going to be able to give you that much-needed culture change Ross said Sunday was needed because you're letting him loose on a locker room that badly needs it for a couple of years. And Coughlin has worked all his Giants career with a strong GM so he's not going to moan about Tannenbaum having major say over personnel decisions.

And in a couple of years when Coughlin is ready to step away, the culture has been changed, and perhaps Campbell is ready ...

Voila!

Smooth transition.

Or perhaps in 2018 when the Dolphins are ready to move on, the available coaching talent is better than the pool the Dolphins are diving into this year.

Sound far-fetched? No more far-fetched than considering Anthony Lynn a serious candidate.

 

 

Mike Smith first candidate interviewing with the Miami Dolphins

I promised surprises. Here's a surprise:

The Miami Dolphins are in talks with their first head coach search candidate as we speak, one day after concluding their season. The team is today meeting with former Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith. 

The Dolphins are not confirming this interview. The club's policy is to not discuss interviews until they are completed.

Smith, 56, was with the Falcons from 2008-14 and he compiled a 66-46 record (.589) and went to the playoffs four times in those seven seasons. The Falcons were 13-3 in 2012 and Smith was named the Sporting News Coach of the Year.

Smith did not coach in 2014 and so he was able to interview even before the season ended.

Dolphins executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum today said Miami's search will span all quarters, meaning there is not specific type of coach -- hot coordinator, college coach, experienced former coach -- the Dolphins will look at.

Tannenbaum simply said he wants "the best coach" for the job.

“We’ve done a lot of research on what makes a successful NFL head coach and tried to reverse-engineer the last 20 years literally of every hire, from their degree to really almost sort of every valuable and I can tell you that there’s a lot of different permutations, a lot of different answers," he said. "So we want to get the best coach and we’re not going to narrow it to any sort of background, being a first-time coach or not. I know there’s one theory out there, like some of the recent Super Bowl winners, Pete Carroll, Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin, all did it on their second hire. But we just want to get the best head coach regardless of their background."

Smith is the first guy to fit that possibility.

New GM Chris Grier wants competition at QB

The Miami Dolphins current head coach search and just completed general manager search has put one player under the microscope: Quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Executive vice president of Everything Mike Tannenbaum said that the search for Joe Philbin's fulltime successor will absolutely include talk of what kind of player Ryan Tannehill has been and may be in the future.

"We're going to hear things we don't want to hear and that includes their assessment of our quarterback," Tannenbaum said.

Tannenbaum obviously heard new general manager Chris Grier's opinion of Tannehill because one does not hire a general manager without knowing what that guys thinks of the team's most important player.

So in his introductory presser just completed, I asked Grier his opinion of Tannehill and got something of a lukewarm response.

"I like Ryan," Grier said. "He's our guy. I think yesterday was a great indication of some of the things that we can do. We can win with Ryan. I'm a firm believer in when you build a roster, you build competition. For me, I want competition, not just for Ryan, but for Suh, everybody on our roster.

"We can win with Ryan. We can do a lot of things to help him get better. And I think Ryan would tell you he's not happy with a lot of stuff that's gone on. Us as an organization, we're moving on with him and we're going to build a competitive roster at all positions."

First of all, let's not pretend this is about competition for Ndamukong Suh. I didn't ask about Suh. He's not going to be replaced. This is about Tannehill. The Dolphins have not provided any real competition for Tannehill since 2012 when he had to earn the starting job as a rookie.

It would be wise for them to draft a quarterback who can learn, compete and perhaps have a chance to replace Tannehill if things go south with the incumbent. At the very worst, drafting a player that makes things competitive gives the Dolphins a resource that can be traded for better picks later.

And if that player is actually a really good player, well then, he simply wins the job and the position is upgraded.

Not rocket science. Yet hasn't been done by the Dolphins in like -- well, since Dan Marino was drafted after David Woodley got the Dolphins to the Super Bowl.

I will say this: Grier didn't exactly jump on the Tannehill bandwagon while waving pom-poms.

Other issues covered during today's availability:

**Grier has been with the team 16 years and obviously been part of all that has gone on -- both good and bad. But he spoke today as if he's a new sheriff in town: "The past decade has been unacceptable for this organization. Steve and Mike and I will help find the right coach to lead this organization. The talk of dysfunction within this organization is over."

So what was dysfunctional?

"I don't want to, and I'm not avoiding the question, but today's about the Miami Dolphisn going forward and our process, how we're going to work to build our organization, in terms of everyone being on the same page, communicating well. Like I said, today's about us. It sounds like I'm avoiding it, but I don't want to talk ill of people at this time."

**Tannenbaum corrected the record on an ESPN saying Mike Shanahan has already interviewed and will continue that visit on Tuesday. Tannenbaum said he indeed spoke with Shanahan earlier but that was more a talk and an opportunity to pick each other's brains than an interview. Indeed, Tannenbaum said that was not an interview. The interview will be done on Tuesday, Tannenbaum confirmed.

**Tannenbaum said if the Dolphins didn't hire Grier as GM, "he was going to be a general manager very soon, if not within the next 10 days." Grier said he heard from "NFL sources" he was likely getting hired by another team soon. He also said he was a finalist for a previously unreported team last year aside from having interviewed with the New York Jets.

**Grier will report directly to Tannenbaum. Power over the 53-man roster and final control is up in the air.

**The Dolphins defense is not good. It needs help at MLB, DE, CB, and one safety. So can all that be addressed in one offseason? Tannenbaum suggested everything can be addressed in one offseason and Grier, speaking specifically about fixing the D in one offseason, said, "yes."

First head coach interviews lined up by Miami Dolphins [Updated]

Yes, the Miami Dolphins have hit the ground running on their coaching interviews. (You have no idea).

The team will be talking to Mike Shanahan this week, as The Herald reported Sunday. I told you Shanahan was someone you absolutely had to keep in mind. FoxSports reported that interview will be done Tuesday.

The Dolphins are also talking this week to Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and eventually will speak with Jacksonville assistant head coach Doug Marrone. Austin went through multiple interviews last year and Marrone is the former head coach of the Buffalo Bills who has a history with search point man Mike Tannenbaum, dating back to their days with the Jets.

Chicago offensive coordinator Adam Gase is also lined up for an interview.

[Update: ESPN is reporting the Dolphins have put in interview requests for New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and Buffalo RB coach Anthony Lynn, who has never interviewed for a head coaching job but did work for the New York Jets from 2009-2014.]

Austin, who is black, will fulfill the NFL's mandate for the Rooney Rule, which stipulates at least one minority candidate must be interviewed. But I have to say, Austin better be a really, really, really impressive individual to get this gig because his defenses?

The Lions were 23rd in the NFL in points allowed this season. The Dolphins, not nearly good enough, were 19th. In 2014, Austin's D was third in the NFL in points allowed while the Dolphins were 20th.

Shanahan, 63, won two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos. He won one of those in Miami. But his time with the Washington Redskins was disappointing. He had only one winning season in the four he was in Washington -- that in 2012 when the team was 10-6 and won the NFC East. His overall record in Washington was 24-40.

As to interim coach Dan Campbell ... He won't be an early interview. The club is going to give him an opportunity to collect himself and his interview strategy before taking an improbable whack at getting this job. He is definitely a long shot but owner Stephen Ross "love"(s) him so you cannot completely discount him.

Gase is supposed to be something of a QB whisperer. He fixed Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler. Ok, so he didn't fix Manning. But Cutler did just enjoy his highest passer rating of his career at 92.3. He lowered his interceptions despite not having Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey being injured much of the year.

On Austin and Gase: Look, the Dolphins need to get two players right and those are Suh and QB Ryan Tannehill. The next head coach must do that to have a chance at winning. Austin can argue he got the most of Suh in Detroit, certainly more than the Dolphins got this season. And Gase can argue he can fix the QB, who is the most important player on the team.

Folks, let me just take this opportunity to tell you this search is going to be unconventional and I promise you surprises. Stay tuned.

January 03, 2016

Dolphins pick Chris Grier as their new GM

The Miami Dolphins were not without a general manager very long.

Chris Grier, who has been with the Dolphins 16 seasons, has been tapped as the general manager to succeed Dennis Hickey. The only thing remaining from this becoming official are contract details that are expected to be ironed as early as Monday.

The Dolphins declined to confirm this hiring.

Grier has been the team director of college scouting and is widely respected in NFL personnel circles. Grier joined the Dolphins after spending five years with the New England Patriots.

The list of successful personnel men and NFL general managers that vouch for Grier is ample. Among these: Jerry Reese of the New York Giants, Dave Gettleman of the Carolina Panthers, Rick Spielman of the Minnesota Vikings and Hall of Famer Bill Parcells.

Grier, who interviewed for the New York Jets GM job last year, just completed his 21st NFL season and is no stranger to talent evaluation because he basically grew up in it. Grier's father Bobby Grier was in the New England Patriots front office from 1982-99. Bobby Grier is currently the senior personnel advisor with the Houston Texans.

The Dolphins moved quickly on this matter. They identified in-house candidates they were impressed by and chose one. On Saturday they parted ways with Hickey after the former GM declined a reassignment within the organization.

Once the Grier contract is signed, he will immediately become a voice within the organization. Aside from being the top talent evaluation officer within the organization, he is expected to join the club's search for a head coach.

The Dolphins will begin that search immediately with executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum being the point man on a committee that includes vice chairman Matt Higgins, president and CEO Tom Garfinkel and owner Stephen Ross.

Ross obviously will weigh the recommendations of his advisors and be the final authority on who is hired as coach.

January 02, 2016

Miami Dolphins and Dennis Hickey part ways [Updated]

After several days of discussions between the Miami Dolphins and Dennis Hickey, both sides have decided to part ways.

Dennis Hickey is no longer the team's general manager. And although those discussions also included the possibility of a reassignment, he is no longer with the team.

A new GM has not been hired but sources point to current director of college scouting Chris Grier as a strong candidate to replace Hickey. That is not done yet. Grier interviewed for the New York Jets GM job in 2015 and obviously did not get it.

ProFootballTalk.com was the first to report these imminent moves.

“I want to thank Dennis for his work over the last two years. We talked about a number of different possibilities, but at the end we reached this agreement,” said executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum. “I have a great deal of respect for what he accomplished here and wish Dennis and his family well.”

Hickey, with the team two years, was classy in his departure:

“I have been blessed to be the General Manager of the Miami Dolphins for the last two seasons and I want to thank Stephen Ross for giving me this opportunity,” Hickey said. “During my time here with the Dolphins, I approached each day with passion, drive and integrity in trying to bring a championship to this proud franchise.

"Over the past week, I have had a number of conversations with the Dolphins organization about my role in the team. Ultimately the Dolphins and I agreed that it would be best if we parted ways. I will always be proud of our accomplishments in Miami including many key additions to the team through the draft and free agency. I am also thankful for all the relationships that were built here with scouting department, the staff, coaches, fans, alumni, and South Florida community.  My family and I will always appreciate all of the support we have received over the past two seasons. We wish everyone the best going forward.”

Although there has been no announcement, it is possible assistant general manager Eric Stokes, Hickey's close confidant, is also going to be out in Miami.

Hickey did good work during his time with the Dolphins. He drafted starters Ja'Wuan James, Jarvis Landry and Bill Turner his first season. He plucked DeVante Parker who is now a starter in the most recent draft and several later picks, such as Bobby McCain and Tony Lippett have begun to get significant playing time.

But he spent too much resources on small school players that first year and they mostly did not pan out, not even Turner who starts but often struggles at guard.

Hickey's fate seemed sealed when Ross hired Mike Tannenbaum in 2015. Tannenbaum became the highest point of power within the football side of the organization and often handled many issues typically administered by traditional GMs. Tannenbaum even changed the system by which the Dolphins graded talent.

The Dolphins will thus be hiring a new head coach and general manager once the season is over.

 

January 01, 2016

More head coach search information and insight on Marrone, Schwartz, Shula, Hue Jackson, others

I give you some of the insight gained on the Miami Dolphins coaching search in my column in Saturday's Miami Herald. Please check out the column as it, plus the posts that were up first on the topic previously, are a good launching point for this topic.

But as the column appeared in print editions and space there is sometimes tight, I could only give you some of the insight. You want more. You deserve more.

Here's more:

An interesting issue the Dolphins face is the possibility of having to weigh hiring a lesser candidate earlier or waiting later for a better candidate. How could this possibly happen?

Consider that, for example, Mike Shula and Josh McDaniels are going to be in the playoffs with the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots respectively. Hue Jackson will similarly be in the playoffs with the Cincinnati Bengals. As will enjoy a window during which they can be interviewed. But because the Panthers (14-1) and Patriots (12-3) are favorites to go deep into the playoffs, and because the Bengals (11-4) may surprise, the Dolphins may not be able to name Shula, McDaniels or Jackson early if one is their choice to be the next head coach.

And what is the problem with this?

The problem is the Dolphins have done a lot of early work in this search process to get out of the gate quickly and beat other teams looking for head coaches to some punches. The Dolphins really want to get this done so that the new head coach can start to put together a strong staff as quickly as possible. And, having the new coach put together a strong staff, a big deal for the Miami braintrust.

So if Shula and McDaniels or Hue Jackson get deep in the playoffs or to the Super Bowl, that might actually work against them. Being more successful could hinder their chances.

And if an assistant vying for the Miami job is on a team that is not in the playoffs, such as Chicago's Adam Gase, thus making him available to be hired earlier, he might become more attractive to the Dolphins than a higher-rated candidate because he can more quickly begin the process of putting together a stronger staff. And remember, in putting together a staff, an early start is best because the best coaches get jobs quickly.

So that's a consideration.

Here's another consideration: Keep in mind the possibility of Doug Marrone. The former Buffalo Bills and Syracuse head coach made an unexpected move when he left the Buffalo Bills after the 2014. He did so expecting to get a head job elsewhere but did not despite going on a couple of interviews.

He is a candidate to interview. And one thing he definitely brings to the table is the possibility of hiring Jim Schwartz as his defensive coordinator. That's correct. Schwartz may be a head coach candidate around the league but he's not a definite hire.

And if he's not hired as a head coach, he will be Marrone's defensive coordinator in 2016 if Marrone gets a head coaching job.

In that regard, Marrone would check a valuable box for the Dolphins: He'd bring at least one very good coordinator, one that has already been a head coach. One that had the Bills as the No. 4 defensive in the NFL in 2014. The Bills are the No. 16 defense in points allowed this season. 

What you need to know about the Dolphins coach search and other things

The Miami Dolphins coaching search has begun in earnest. The team has already identified multiple "promising" candidates, according to an email letter The Herald obtained first from owner Stephen Ross to season-ticket members.

And now let me tell what I know about this all-important search that will determine the course of the Miami Dolphins for the next few years:

Firstly, Mike Tannenbaum has the full confidence of the owner. He is leading the search and will be part of this organization regardless of what coach is hired.

Secondly, the fate of general manager Dennis Hickey is not decided as of today. Ross and Tannenbaum today are weighing the good and the bad about Hickey. They are doing this as we speak while the two are at the Citrus Bowl, where Michigan is playing Florida.

If you ask me my opinion, the chances are more likely that Hickey is not retained as the GM. But, again, it is not lost on the Dolphins' brass that he is a good man and solid personnel man, so firing him outright is a tough call for Ross.

Now to the coaching search:

Bill Cowher is not going to be the next Miami Dolphins head coach.

Mike Shanahan is not going to be the next Miami Dolphins head coach.

Eric Mangini is not going to be the next Miami Dolphins head coach, despite his history with Tannenbaum at the New York Jets.

Jon Gruden is unlikely to be the next Miami Dolphins head coach. One cannot be as certain about this one because while Gruden has in the past made it clear he wants to remain in the broadcast booth, there's always the small, small chance he changes his mind. If he changes his mind in the coming days, then the Dolphins will consider him. But do not expect this.

Ross said in his letter to fans, first obtained by The Miami Herald, that this search will be "a thorough process" that "will not be constrained by convention in our approach. This search will be thorough and we will take it wherever we need to go."

That means coaches with all sorts of backgrounds will be considered.

Coordinators with no NFL head coaching experience. This opens up the possibilities to men such as Adam Gase, Mike Shula, and Dirk Koetter.

Men who have been NFL head coaches previously but were fired. This opens up the possibilities to men such as Hue Jackson, Todd Haley, Jim Schwartz, Jim Mora, Josh McDaniels, and Chuck Pagano, if indeed he is let go on Monday as reported by multiple media outlets, and Chip Kelly.

Pagano and Kelly are interesting. Assuming Pagano is fired, both he and Kelly had trouble with collaboration within their organizations in Indianapolis and Philadelphia respectively. The Dolphins are aware and that is not going to necessarily eliminate either man.

Finally, there are rumors -- and that is all they are at this point -- that New Orleans coach Sean Payton will make himself available to teams after this season. If that happens, he's gone. There is no way he can make himself available to others and still keep the possibility of walking back into that building and telling his players he's all in.

But because this is so, so complex, and because it involves draft choice compensation for a coach still under contract, the odds of his 1. Agreeing to come to the Dolphins as his top pick, and 2. The Dolphins agreeing to give up a high draft pick for him are very long.

Stephen Ross to Miami Dolphins fans: 'Several promising' coach candidates

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is not happy about his team's 2015 season. (We got a hint of that when he fired head coach Joe Philbin and coordinators Kevin Coyle and Bill Lazor eventually followed as well).

But today Ross pulled back the curtain on how he feels in a letter sent to season-ticket members. In that letter Ross expresses his dissatisfaction and promises the important coach search, which he confirms will be lead by executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum, has already identified some "promising" candidates.

"I had high expectations headed into this year and the on-field results have been disappointing... for you, our staff, our coaches, our players and alumni players, and certainly for me," Ross writes. "Through it all, your support has been unwavering.  We had capacity crowds at every home game and thousands of you joined us on the road. Everyone at the Dolphins appreciates your consistent loyalty and support.

"There are no shortcuts or magic formulas to winning. I know it will take hard work for us to get where we want to go and I can assure you that everyone at the Dolphins is working hard to honor the proud winning tradition of our great franchise.

"We are going to conduct a thorough process led by Mike Tannenbaum to select our head coach that will not be constrained by convention in our approach. This search will be thorough and we will take it wherever we need to go. I appreciate everything Dan Campbell has done this season and he has earned the opportunity to be considered for head coach. We’ve also identified several promising candidates and will begin work immediately."

So interim head coach Dan Campbell will get his interview. But the Dolphins, which have known this time is coming when they fired Philbin in October, have already done early work on others. By beginning the search "immediately," I believe Ross means his team hits the ground running on Monday, the day after the 2015-16 regular season is over.

This is a good first step for Ross to take as the team transitions from the disappointment of a season to the new hope of the offseason. Reaching out to his best customers is not only right, it is smart. They have questions. They have, in some significant instances, doubts about this team. And Ross is trying to address all those.

The letter doesn't actually fix any problems. But it is a sure sign Ross and his team are about to embark on major work.