Looking back at coaching hires since Dolphins Philbin hired
By Brian Miller
Dec 10, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) talk after the game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Philbin took an internal side with salary cap guru Dawn Aponte in a struggle for power against Jeff Ireland. The Dolphins forced Philbin to fire offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and a day later fired Jeff Ireland. Many Dolphins fans believed that Philbin should have been fired as well allowing the next GM the power and authority to hire his own head coach. Instead, the Dolphins search for a general manager was a hard one that was rumored to include four candidates to turn down the job.
Had the Dolphins parted ways with Philbin and had turned over their coaching search to a new GM, Miami may have hired one of these seven coaches hired prior to the start of the 2014 season.
The Cleveland Browns hired Pettine after failing to entice any top coaching candidates. The Browns also promoted Ray Farmer to general manager after he declined the same job with the Dolphins. Pettine lobbied for the job in Cleveland and since then the Browns have been a mess. Whether as a result of Pettine or Farmer it really hasn’t mattered. The Browns will be looking for a new head coach and possibly a new GM after this season.
Zimmer received his first head coaching job in the NFL with the Vikings and after two seasons it appears that he may be slowly starting to turn the team around. Most believe that despite his record of 15-14 over the last two seasons he will be safe. And he should be. The Vikings have one of the better defenses in the league and have a young quarterback they are trying to develop in Teddy Bridgewater. While he is safe now, another season of disappointment could doom his chances to remain in the position beyond 2016.
Caldwell was previously the offensive coordinator of the Ravens before joining the Lions. Caldwell’s job was on the line this year after the team started 1-7 and that led to a shake-up in the front office where the GM and one of the teams executives were fired mid-season. Caldwell was forced to shake up his own staff by firing his offensive coordinator. It’s believed that while Caldwell will finish the season he may not start the next one. Caldwell is a good coach and while he may not stay as the head coach in 2016 he will likely get another shot down the road.
Whisenhunt was a big reason why the Cardinals became a top team in the NFC West but since joining the Tennessee Titans, he has had little to work with and has been unable to turn the team into a winner. Whisenhunt was fired this year after a 1-6 start in Tennessee. In 2013 he served as the Chargers offensive coordinator leading the Bolts to one of the best NFL offenses. That opened the door for him in Tennessee. Since he left, interim head coach Mike Mularkey has started to turn the team around making them competitive.
Gruden exited the Bengals for his first NFL head coaching job and it’s one that he likely regrets. Gruden has been saddled with internal ownership and management issues since his arrival and while the team is playing to win the NFC East this year they are not doing it with a wide margin. In fact the Redskins lead the NFCE by tie-breaker at 6-7 with the Eagles and Giants. The Cowboys are only two games back with four wins. Gruden may be out of a job at seasons end…or maybe hoping for one.
The Texans hired O’Brien after dismissing Gary Kubiak. O’Brien previously worked under Bill Belichick in New England and had spent the last two years as the Penn State head coach. O’Brien is starting to turn the team around and remain in the below .500 chase for the AFC South. The biggest problem for the Texans is at quarterback where the Texans simply don’t have anyone reliable and consistent. It’s likely he will be given the 2016 season to improve the team.
The Bears fired Smith and the Buc’s wasted little time hiring him. In his one year and 12 games, Smith has led the team to a total of eight wins. Hardly a resounding affirmation of their hire. That being said, Smith gutted the team and began to rebuild the franchise so time will need to be given. The Buc’s have started to show signs of becoming competitive and it appears that Jameis Winston could develop into a franchise quarterback.
While the Dolphins could have fired Philbin along with Jeff Ireland they opted to stay the course. Philbin had coached only two seasons thus far with Miami when the coaching changes started to be made. Of the coaches hired in that off-season, an argument could be made for Smith, Zimmer, and Gruden.