For the Miami Dolphins’ Dan Campbell, every game is one game at a time. When can you honestly remember, ever in the history of the NFL, expectations for season have increased after the head coach was fired? Think about this for a moment. The Dolphins fired their head coach after a 1-3 start and fans are again excited about the possibilities THIS season.
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For many fans it’s a matter of cautious optimism but any real optimism at all is surprising. I honestly can’t remember when an interim head coach had this much support after a head coach was fired. It’s mindblowing. The Dolphins will be looking to replace Dan Campbell this upcoming off-season but it should be noted that if Campbell can turn this team around, he will have the first shot at keeping this job beyond 2015. The question is what exactly constitutes “turning this around?”.
For starters the Dolphins have to compete at a much higher level and that is a lot easier done than said. Yes, that’s what I meant to say. Miami has talent and that talent has been underperforming through four weeks. The Dolphins are expected to start playing with more physicality and more fire and that is something that can be turned on by a number of factors including the coaching change.
The Dolphins also must win and that is a lot harder to achieve. The Dolphins can go out and play as hard as they want, as hard as they can but without victories it won’t matter. Eventually physical play will give way to the same numbness that came over the team with Philbin. Winning is what keeps players motivated and winning keeps Dan Campbell’s job.
So what exactly will Dan Campbell’s season need to be at the end to really be considered for 2016? It might start with 8-8.
If the Dolphins can finish the season at .500 after starting 1-3 it will be a big sign of change under Campbell. To put that into perspective it would mean from this point forward the Dolphins will win at minimum seven games. They will finish the rest of the season 7-5. That’s not the kind of record to retain a coach but given the starting point for Campbell, that’s a huge victory.
You would also have to look at that 7-5 and then look at the teams that Miami would have to beat to get there. Throw out Tennessee and Houston. The Dolphins would have to beat five of these teams to reach 8-8 assuming they can beat their next to opponents.
New England, Buffalo, New York Jets, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Dallas, Indianapolis, San Diego, and Baltimore.
Again, the Dolphins in order to get to .500 must beat FIVE of those teams plus Houston and Tennessee. If Miami were to succeed in doing that, Dan Campbell should be seriously considered for the 2016 job. If Miami can pull of a 8 wins over the next 12 weeks the job should be his regardless of playoffs.
The Dolphins are an interesting spot because they get almost a full season of evaluation on a young up and coming head coach who regardless of this seasons outcome will eventually get another shot for some other team. The firing of Joe Philbin should have happened last season. Let’s hope that delay may have produced a gem. Had the Dolphins fired Philbin last year, Dan Campbell would still be a tight ends coach. Maybe that’s where he belongs, maybe not.
Sooner rather than later, we are going to know.