Cowher Not The Answer?


Tony Sparano has not lost his job and while a part of me is off that support bandwagon, the other part of me says give him another year and see what he can do with a more “octane” OC.  I can’t help but like Sparano.  His no nonsense approach to the media, his honesty, the way he doesn’t throw anyone under the bus and always take criticism and bites the bullet of responsibility first and foremost.

Still, that does not preclude him from sharing most of the blame, you can read later today in my “Blame Game: Tony Sparano” article.  Should be up around 4:00.

Aside from my liking of Sparano, the reality of this business puts a different spin on what happens in the off-season.  There are a lot of vacancies this off-season.  San Francisco, Dallas, Denver, Minnesota, Carolina, with strong possibilities in Cincinnati, Houston, Cleveland, and possibly New York Giants and Tennessee Titans.  That’s a lot of teams for a relatively short list of true candidates. Jim Harbaugh of Stanford, Super Bowl winners Jon Gruden, Brian Billick, and yes, Bill Cowher.  Which brings me to the point of all this.  Is Cowher the man for the Dolphins?

Make no mistake.  Bill Cowher will sell tickets.  It will go a long way to Stephen Ross putting his own imprint on this team.  Cowher alone will return the team instantly to respectful.  They will no longer be considered a “re-build” project regardless of what they do in the off-season.  They will be a competitor because that is one thing that Cowher brings.  A blue collar attitude that accepts nothing short of 110%.  Just like Tony Sparano.  The difference?  Cowher has the experience and the rings to prove he can do it.  But is he right in Miami?

Cowher was the perfect fit in Pittsburgh.  A team who was hell bent on winning, a franchise that was an NFL historical great.  Fans that cared for little else than Sunday afternoons at Three Rivers Stadium.  A blue collar coach for a blue collar town.  The Pittsburgh faithful could relate to their head coach because he was just like them.  In 15 seasons he only had two losing seasons and six below the 10 win mark.  He only won 1 Super Bowl but appeared in two.  He won 9 division championships in Pittsburgh.  And he did it, the same way that the Miami Dolphins play football now.  Grind it out hand to hand combat.  Time consuming drives and ball control.  For a city like Pittsburgh who is all about steel work and manual labor, the product on the field was a reflection of the city as much as it was their HC.

In Miami?  That likely won’t work.

Miami is a dance town filled with techno rock and Southbeach sound.  It is a Cuban infused community with high octane energy and 24 hour excitement.  Like NY, it’s a city that rarely sleeps and the endless parties in Southbeach draw as much attention to the community as anything else.  In other words, it’s not a town filled with hard labor and iron ore.

The Miami Dolphins have been a grind it out football team since Jimmy Johnson decided to take up the team.  Oh, he used Dan Marino from his “cookie jar” but that was because he didn’t have a choice.  He never made this team into the balanced attack he had in Dallas.  Instead, he took his lumps, his losses, and his money to Islamorado in the keys and went back to TV.

Dave Wannstedt, well, you know we all know these stories because we have been talking about them since the late 1990′s.  Nothing has changed.  It’s still the same grind it out boring offense and a young defense that is bordering on becoming great.  And the Miami fans are not buying it.  They want exciting.  They want New Orleans style offense, New England, Atlanta, Green Bay.  They want deep passes and fast paced crossing patterns.  They want 40 points on the scoreboard at halftime.  They want this team to revert to what it was.  A winner.  A perennial winner that owns the division and the rest of the AFC.  More than anything, they want to be relevant.

Bill Cowher has the name and the attitude, but Cowher is a defensive minded coach which means that he will bring in someone to run the offense for him.  It means that person will be a mold of Cowher.  Hard nose grind it out punishing football.  In other words, a running team.  That may not be what Miami needs and it may not be something that will fill the seats immediately and please Stephen Ross.

If Ross wants spectacle to go along with his off-field celebrity fan fare, his orange carpet affairs, and parking lot concerts, than he needs to be frugal in his decisions moving forward.  He needs to find a coach who will come in with the offensive pedigree of Scott Linehan but the experience and knowledge of Bill Cowher.

That doesn’t leave much.  Jon Gruden is an offensive coach and perhaps he could come in and work with Mike Nolan, leaving Nolan as the DC and assistant HC.  But Gruden has never built a team, he has only molded them.  In Miami, he may need to build an offense.  Which also means questions will arise with the future of Jeff Ireland as the GM.  Gruden won’t buy the groceries per se’ but Cowher surely will.

Bill Cowher is a good coach and some may even say a great one.  Miami has failed in previous attempts with the big names, Johnson, Saban, and Parcells.  Jerry Jones has pointed out that no team has won the Super Bowl with a castoff coach of another team who has won the Super Bowl.  Cowher may be the answer to change the mentality of this team which desperately needs it, or he may be just another name that gets to Miami and realizes that the Miami fans are not all blue collar iron workers and that grind it out football doesn’t work here anymore.

Fans want the same excitement on the field that Stephen Ross is providing off of it.  Cowher may not be that man, but at least in year one, he might sell more tickets.  But what happens after that?

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Tags: Bill Cowher Jon Gruden Miami Dolphins Stephen Ross Tony Sparano

  • John

    I know that everyone wants to bring in a proven winner, but can anyone name me a Super Bowl winning coach who has moved on to another team and won another Super Bowl?

    Haven’t we learned from the JJ era that “retired” coaches just don’t seem to capture the magic that they had when they won their championship?

  • Antonio

    I don’t think its so much of a “get a superbowl winning HC” situation. I think ANYBODY needs to take the position. Its time for something new. This team needs a major turn around that sparano won’t be able to do. His main strength is the o line and that was one of miamis biggest problems this year. He has failed to become a success here in miami and I think its best to try something new instead of gambling on what “might be” next year with sparano.

  • Dolphin man

    I do somewhat agree with you. But if not Cowher and Gruden, then who? It Would be impossible to get a shawn peyton like offense here.

    Me being a big fan miss the days of a 4th rank offense and with a passing attack so lethal , that it kept opposing defensive coaches up all night.

  • Alex Trevelyan

    Jerry Jones is correct. Only five coaches in the history of the NFL have taken two different franchises to a Super Bowl, and none of those coaches have won a Super Bowl with 2 different franchises. It doesn’t happen. Cowher’s situation in Pittsburgh was ideal for a number of reasons, the chief being the strong front office the Steelers had during his tenure. Cowher was subordinate to that front office. They were among the best, if not the best, in the NFL in talent acquisition. They seemed to find 3-4 linebackers that went to the Pro Bowl every year in the fifth-round. There is no such front office in Miami. No Kevin Colbert running the show (ironically he started his career with the Dolphins.)

    The Dolphins need to hire a top-flight GM, who then hires the coach and builds the team. Cowher wants total control, he wants his guys working with him in the front office, but he wants to make the final decisions and that’s a recipe for disaster. Look around the league, the Steelers, Ravens, Jets, Colts, Falcons, Giants, Bears, Chiefs have a clear delineation between the coach and the front office. Only the Patriots, among contenders, have one guy calling the shots, and even Belichick had people like Pioli and Dimitriof in his front office (now currently the GMs in KC and Atlanta.) Enough with the failed superstar savior routine. It didn’t work with Jimmy Johnson, it didn’t work with Nick Saban, it certainly hasn’t worked with Bill Parcells. It hasn’t worked anywhere in the NFL. Shula had a top-flight front office when the Fins were winning titles, but later in his career he was calling the shots and the team was never more than mediocre. Shula the GM was always undermining Shula the coach, who was still brilliant. Is it any wonder that franchises like the Colts and Chargers didn’t turn it around until they identified top-flight GMs, and hired them to make decisions? Haley, Tomlin, Harbaugh, Payton, Caldwell, the two Smiths, Reid, etc are not retread coaches, they were relatively unknown assistants. Cowher might sells luxury boxes, but it guarantees long-term failure. Ross has to decide if he wants a winner, or mediocrity that makes money.

  • UconnFan

    TOTALLY AGREE !!! They need a TOP GM, and only then will Miami see the wins come rolling in. That what has been missing all along. But I do agree that a 1st round QB needs to be drafted. Henne may turn into a consistant QB in time. Remember Earl Morrall won lots of games in the old days. Nothing wrong with having a capable backup QB. Hold on to henne, you never know. But get that Franchise QB. They were spoiled with Marino. Sick of all the retreads Miami bets the bank on.

  • Tomasito

    Brian quit being a coward and a wimp. We need to unload Henne, you precious Golden Boy. And to do that we need to unload that stupid Wop Saprano.