5 problems for Dolphins Dan Campbell


As the Miami Dolphins 2015 season ticks away Dan Campbell is fighting for his future as the Dolphins head coach. It’s not an easy task and most assuredly an uphill battle. There are things that work in his favor and some things that don’t.

Here is a look at five areas that are not working in Campbell’s favor for re-hire.

FIVE: Coaching

When Dan Campbell took over as head coach on an interim basis he immediately was tasked with changing the coaching staff. He made the only move he could make defensively, firing Kevin Coyle as defensive coordinator. His options to replace Coyle were limited and he promoted Lou Anarumo to the position. Anarumo has held the position of DC only once in his coaching career. From 1992-94 he was the defensive coordinator for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Since that time his highest level of coaching was as a defensive backs coach. He held that position at Harvard, Marshall, Purdue, and finally with the Dolphins from 2012 until this season. In other words, he is inexperienced.

On offense Campbell couldn’t do too much. Retaining Bill Lazor was his only real option but he brought in Al Saunders as an advisor/assistant coach. Saunders has a long NFL pedigree but he isn’t calling the games and Lazor has been mired in average play calling that is not helping the team.

Overall Campbell has a young and mostly inexperienced coaching staff at the higher levels and that is not helping his pursuit of keeping his job.

FOUR: Record

The Dolphins are one game below .500 but are 3-2 under Campbell. Campbell inherited the team after week four when the team was 1-3. While they are above .500 under him, the overall record is still an eyesore and one that has almost completely taken the Dolphins out of the playoff picture.

Campbell knew that the season was going to be an uphill climb and frankly many believe that his target for the team should be .500 at seasons conclusion. With seven games remaining Campbell can still get the team to .500 but they will need to win four of their remaining seven games. Those games include New England, both New York teams, and the Cowboys. They will also travel cross-country to face the Chargers. Baltimore has given Miami fits the last few years but are struggling this season. The Colts are a mess and may not have Andrew Luck back for the game. Somehow the Dolphins need to find a way to win four times to make it to .500. If they can do that, Campbell’s job may not be in question.

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THREE: Management

While the Dolphins say there is no discord internally many question who is actually in charge. Dennis Hickey has all but disappeared and the show is being run by Mike Tannenbaum. For now Tannenbaum supports Campbell but will he at season’s end? It’s more likely than not Miami parts ways with Hickey after the season. He is on a one year deal and with Tannenbaum doing the teams shopping and Dawn Aponte handling the financial end, Hickey doesn’t have much of a future with the team.

Another issue is Stephen Ross. Ross knows he made a mistake last season with the retention of Joe Philbin but he wants to make a splash and turn the team around. Wayne Huizenga was able to lure Jimmy Johnson, Nick Saban, and Bill Parcells to Miami but Ross has failed to keep Parcells, failed to lure Jeff Fisher, and of course alienated himself with Tony Sparano. His failures with Philbin are at the forefront of the teams misery. If the opportunity presents itself for Ross to hire a “name” for his next coach. He very well may take it.

There is also Mike Tannenbaum. Again. Tannenbaum has his own ideas of who should be coaching the team and while he is supporting Campbell now, that may not be the case at season’s end. Tannenbaum has a history with a lot of other coaches and it’s possible that rumors of Sean Payton, Hugh Jackson, and yes, even Eric Mangini could come into play if the Dolphins don’t reach a certain level.

TWO: Inexperience

Dan Campbell is literally learning as he goes this season. While he has not made glaring mistakes on the sidelines during games he has only been a coach at any level since joining the team as an intern in 2011. His first full-time job came in 2012 when Philbin promoted him. Campbell is smart however, he is relying on the more experienced coaches on his staff for in-game adjustments, time out usage, and especially challenging plays.

When the seasons over, regardless of record, the Dolphins will have to look at his coaching experience and ask themselves if they have the patience to wait Campbell out. Almost unilaterally, the media believe that down the road Campbell could be one of the best coaches in football but is he ready yet? Not likely but will he be in another two or even three years? If the Dolphins believe that he can and will be then they would be smart to live through another year or two of .500. If they feel they are wasting talent now, then a coaching change will be made because of Campbell’s inexperience.

ONE: Talent

Everything above goes out the window as soon as you begin to talk about the talent on this team. Our friends over at ThePhinsider “pegged” this issue perfectly in article last week. As they pointed out the biggest problem that Campbell has is the fact that he is trying to make this a physical team with a roster full of finesse style players. Only a handful of players on either side of the ball are physical players.

Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh, and Reshad Jones really round out the defense while on offense only Mike Pouncey is truly a physical style of player. The rest of the team has some players that need to be coached into playing physical but for the most part they are players that have been brought in for their style of play. A more finesse style. That doesn’t work in Campbell’s favor.

All of these issues are reasons that Campbell may find it difficult to retain his job at season’s end but each of them come with positives as well. Regardless of the coach, the talent needs to be changed and the Dolphins executives are aware of that. Management is legitimately behind Campbell and the players respect him and are playing much harder since his promotion. Half of the battle is getting your players to buy into what your selling and Campbell is making the most of what he has to work with.

Inexperience is a problem now but Campbell wants to win and puts in the time to make that happen. Another year or two and inexperience won’t be an issue. Nor will coaching. If Campbell can make the changes needed to his staff to make the systems more physically dominant and aggressive, a lot of his own inexperience will be masked as well. As for the record, well there isn’t too much he can control with that. He was given three losses before he coached a single game but finishing strong will help.