The Miami Dolphins were embroiled in turmoil at the start of their coaching search. Some fans reveled in the misery, complained, called out the owner, and blamed an apparent cloud that hangs over the organization. We listened to national ridicule over the management make-up of Jeff Ireland and Stephen Ross and put up with the media backlash over the involvement of Carl Peterson‘s role in the structure.
Over the course of a week and then two, we rode the roller coaster of misinformation while we waited for Jeff Fisher to pick the Rams. Then, we waited again as the “rumorcoaster” took us from Todd Bowles to Mike McCoy to Joe Philbin and back again. Then the dust settled, the Dolphins named their coach, and fans returned to a somewhat normal emotional state. But did the Miami Dolphins come out on top of the coaching carousel?
Joining the Dolphins in the rank and file of teams needing new leading men were the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, and the late entry Indianapolis Colts. Now, as the NFL season winds down with it’s Super Bowl and then enters a four week hiatus leading to the start of free agency, it’s safe to look at the winners and loser’s from this years coaching search…as it sits on “paper” in comparison to what the Dolphins did with Philbin.
It’s incredibly difficult to talk about other coaching hires in a subjective way without offering some form of opinion on the matter. Even facts can often cloud perception when those facts are used to support an opinion or even a summation. So I will try to leave the opinion on the floor and let you form your own.
Before we move forward with the teams and their hires, it’s probably best to look at who wasn’t hired so that comparisons between teams and those left off the coaching search interview circuit won’t get in the way of rational. For starters, Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher interviewed with no one. They did not speak with any teams and only the Dolphins apparently made official inquiries into their availability. So there was no lure of the first overall or second overall pick to go with the Rams and Colts jobs.
Following those two names, Rob Chudzinski and Pete Carmichael, Jr. were the hot coordinator names. Chud interviewed with the Chiefs, or so it was reported, and Carmichael interviewed with the Buc’s. Neither received second interviews. Jay Gruden pulled his name out of the HC circuit opting to stay in Cincinnati instead as did Oregon coach Chip Kelly with the Tamp Bay Buc’s, opting to stay at Oregon. I mention these names only to show that while the Dolphins did not officially interview these candidates, the other teams without coaches apparently didn’t see much in the first two and the last two were never serious options.
Moving on to the Rams is a good place to start considering the back and forth between Miami and St. Louis that went on. In the end, it was Jeff Fisher to St. Louis. In St. Louis, Fisher will have a role in the search for the teams GM (a process still ongoing) but he will not have a “President” title or final say over personnel. Something he reportedly was expecting from Miami and a reason he reportedly opted for St. Louis. While Fisher has the second overall selection in the draft, he and his next GM will have to decide on what to do with it.
This is the easiest to compare for Dolphins fans as the staff that Fisher is putting together would have been the same in Miami outside of Jeff Ireland. Dave McGinnis is his Assistant Head Coach, Greg Williams will serve as his defensive coordinator, and Brian Schottenheimer will serve as his offensive coordinator. It was also announced today that his son, Brandon, will join the staff as an assistant to Jeff. I won’t throw out statistics or anything instead allowing you to form your own opinion of those moves compared to the hires made by Joe Philbin.
In Jacksonville, it’s safe to make the assumption that universally, Miami fans were pleased when Mike Mularkey was named the teams head coach. I have not followed Mularkeys coaching staff simply because I am not a fan of Mularkey himself and therefore, (Yes, this is MY opinion), I considered anything else that he would do to be pointless. My contention is that Mularkey is a mistake in and of itself so to me, it wouldn’t matter who he surrounded himself with.
Aside from the fact that anyone who is hired by the Oakland Raiders is likely on a one year stint, the Raiders tabbed the Broncos DC Dennis Allen as their next man. Allen led a motivated Denver Broncos defense that really was the catalyst to their playoff run and knockout of the Pittsburgh Steelers in round 1. Allen is an up and coming coach but he is an unknown and there is cause for concern. Especially in an organization that chew up and spits out coaches regularly. A big question will be his coaching staff and how they will be able to mold a struggling Raiders team. In a bit of trivia, Allen is the first coach from the defensive side of the ball to be hired as a HC in Oakland since John Madden in 1969.
Kansas City flirted with a couple of interviews but in the end, it was decided that the best move was an internal one where they kept interim HC Romeo Crennel. This is Crennel’s second foray into the NFL’s coaching elite. He previously coached the Cleveland Browns. Crennel is seen as a high reward coach and it’s likely that his staff will stay much the same. The Chiefs are in a weak division but Crennel will have plenty of support for success from management unlike what he received in Cleveland. It’s hard to compare Crennel to the Dolphins search and subsequent hire for two reasons, one, he was never an outside option for other teams and two, he is taking over a team he is already familiar with and has that previous coaching experience.
Indianapolis made a splash with their end of season flirtations. For a team that holds the number one overall pick, their coaching search made little headlines in the national media. Perhaps because the Rams had already tabbed Jeff Fisher despite rumors that owner Jim Irsay had contacted Fisher prior to the firing of Jim Caldwell. The Colts finished their season, fired their long time management team of Bill Polian and son, hired a new GM, then fired their coach, and then began interviews. In the end, they waited for Baltimore’s exit and tabbed Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano as their coach.
Pagano ha been a candidate for a couple of years now but his teams deep playoff runs have kept him from serious consideration. The timing of the Colt’s HC change and Baltimore’s exit from the 2012 post-season was perfect. The Colts were a horrible team on defense this season and for that matter the past few seasons. Of course without Peyton Manning, their offense was just as bad and that will be the two headed snake that Pagano will have to deal with. While all the talk in Indy surrounds the imminent drafting of Andrew Luck, the team may find that trading out of the top spot may eventually reap more rewards. Never before has the first pick supposedly carried so much weight in terms of expected compensation. Rumors persist that three number 1 picks may not be enough. If a team is willing to pay that, Pagano could fix both sides of his team quickly. He is still forming his coaching staff but the offense has been handed over to former Steeler OC Bruce Arians.
Rounding out the vacant coaching teams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s announced that they hired Rutgers’ head coach Greg Schiano. To me this hire came out of left field as I was pretty certain that the Buc’s would hire Mike Sherman to be their head coach. Schiano coached in the NFL back during the playing days of Dan Marino with the Bears. It’s interesting that the Buc’s would opt to go with an old-school type of coach and then choose a college guy over an NFL guy. Schiano could be a very good move by the Bucs’ as he has had great success in turning around college programs, but we all know that the NFL is a different bird. He will likely fall back on his college roots for his coordinators.
Finally, it all brings us to the Miami Dolphins. After the Jeff Fisher flirtation and the Dave Toub round of interviews, and then the “It’s Mike McCoy” announcements by Miami beat writer sources, the Dolphins announced Joe Philbin as their HC. Philbin was a top prospect on the national front and earned interviews early with the Buc’s and Jaguars. The Jags ended their search with Mularkey while the Packers were still in the playoffs. Philbin has subsequently hired Mike Sherman to run his offense and David Coyle from the Bengals to run the defense.
So now, I will simply leave you with that and allow you formulate your own opinion on how Miami’s decision to hire Philbin compares to the other head coaches hired in the last month.