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Possible DC candidates for all to see

Kevin Coyle is apparently still the defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins this morning but we don't know if that is only a temporary stay before he's fired or if Coyle is in fact safe for 2015.

Why don't we know?

Only Joe Philbin knows and he has not been ringing my celly with the answer.

(True story: Philbin does not call any media member. He also doesn't return emails. He once explained to me that his job and family take up practically all his professional and personal time, so he doesn't have time to form a relationship with a member of the media outside his normal and customary press conferences. Hey, I can respect that approach, although I think it unwise. The coach is free to set priorities as he wishes. But, I would counter an ally in the independent media never hurt anyone and Philbin has none.)

Anyway, I digress.

If Coyle is indeed safe then I have completely wasted hours of work on the exercise we're about to embark. But my instinct tells me Coyle is not safe. So here goes:

Someone on my twitter mentions on Monday demanded that I "name names" of possible replacements for Coyle. Why would I do that, I thought, when the Dolphins defensive coordinator is not fired. Plus, I thought, this could take a lot of work.

And then I remembered I don't have a pending locker room access or Dolphins press conference to attend now, in part because the defense was bad at season's end and so there was no postseason work to do. So it's the Dolphins themselves that gave me all this time to do this work.

This exercise also could help us understand whether the Dolphins, specifically Philbin, might find suitable replacements should he decide to move on from Coyle.

So here is my list of people who may be on the market as possible defensive coordinator candidates this offseason. This is in no particular order of strongest candidate to weakest candidate:

Candidate         Current job         Experience

Eric Mangini      SF TE coach      Former N.E. DC, former Cleveland and NYJ head coach.

Ed Donatell       SF assistant      Former Atlanta, G.B. DC. 22 years NFL experience.

Jim Leavitt       SF assistant      Former S. Florida HC, former DC at Kansas State (No. 1 D in nation).

Mike Trgovac    GB assistant    Former Carolina DC (2003-2008), NFL Top 10 in pts. allowed 3 of 6 yrs.

Winston Moss    GB asst HC      Miamian, 16 seasons NFL assistant.

Steve Spanuolo Balt. asst.       Former DC NYG (2007-08), Saints DC (2012), Former HC Rams (2009-11).

Gary Gibbs       KC asst.          Former N.O. DC (2006-08), former Oklahoma DC.

Emmitt Thomas KC asst.         Former DC in Philadelphia, G.B., Minnesota.

*Jim Schwartz   Buff. DC         Former HC Lions (2009-13), former DC Tennessee (2001-08).

Gunther Cunningham  Sr. coach asst.   Former HC KC, former DC KC twice, former DC Lions, former DC Raiders.

Mike Smith    Unemployed   Former HC Atlanta (2008-14), former DC Jacksonville (2003-07), former Baltimore defensive assistant (1999-2002).

Mike Nolan   Status unknown   Former HC San Fran. (2005-08), DC NYG (1993-96), DC Wash. (1997-99), DC NYJ (2000), DC Baltimore (2002-04), DC Miami (2010-11), DC Atlanta (2012-14).

These are all candidates with experience as coordinators on teams who have recently enjoyed defensive success. Obviously, there are more candidates on teams with poor defenses. There are also good position coaches who I believe will eventually be solid coordinator candidates which are not represented here.

Among the latter group, Mike Vrabel, the linebacker coach in Houston is one. Patrick Graham, the linebacker coach in New England, is another. Graham is interesting in that he graduated from Yale and was a Yale merit scholar. Both have been influenced to one degree or another by New England coach Bill Belichick. 

*Schwartz is hoping to land a head coach job but that is uncertain at this time.