The Miami Dolphins season will be officially over and it’s time to start looking at the offseason. This is a critical time for this once proud franchise. With the stadium renovations finished this offseason, this franchise that’s fallen out of relevancy is at a cross roads. What they do next in the front office will impact this team for at least the next three years.
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Without a playoff season since Stephen Ross took ownership of the team, it’s time for him and his advisors to find a worthy coaching staff able to pull this team out of the doldrums. They need to do quality research in this vetting process because one things is clear, money is not an issue for Mr. Ross. It’s painfully obvious this team has been held back significantly by coaching the past six seasons; while an influx of talent is certainly needed, there’s enough good on this roster that with the right men leading the charge, progress can be made quickly.
While some may say Mr. Ross needed to completely clean house, one thing’s for certain and that’s Mike Tannenbaum leading the search this offseason. Last offseason he urged Ross to move on from Joe Philbin and bring in new blood to coach this team; Mr. Ross ignored his advice and has seen the year fall apart. I didn’t see Ross having the balls to get rid of someone who gave him sound advice that went ignored. Mr. Ross is a good person and probably feels he has to give Tannenbaum a fair shot in having his say. In this industry, it just hasn’t been in his nature to be so cut throat; whether I agree with it or not, Ross has clearly come to Tannenbaum and humbly said “you were right, please help me fix this team”. So understand that the rest of this piece will be written as if I’m in Tannenbaum’s shoes calling the shots this offseason.
Coaching & General Manager:
A fresh start is needed across the board. The Miami Dolphins can ill afford to retain anyone who’s held a position in a coaching capacity the last couple of seasons. Everyone must go! Sorry Dan Campbell; I love your passion but you’re a position coach and need more seasoning as a coordinator before being ready for a head job. Similar to Todd Bowles whose time in Arizona got him primed to be special and ready for the success he’s having in New York, Cambell is at that stage in his career. While it stings to see in house talent leave and flourish elsewhere; Campbell has been tied to the last two coaching regimes that haven’t worked out. Clean house; pump some fresh blood and philosophies into the building.
Goodbye Dennis Hickey! Sorry buddy, you’re run here was short; the new GM needs to be someone who the new coach hires. Someone who shares his views on players and schemes; not someone he gets saddled with and has to figure out a way to coexist. I’m a little worried there’s rumblings of promoting Chris Grier so soon before having a coach in place, even if the plan is to have him aid Tannenbaum in the coaching search. That synergy between coaching and the personnel department is crucial to the locker room environment needing to be forged. The process supersedes acquiring talent alone, it has to encompass the compatibility between coaching styles and player personalities. They’re building a football team, not an all-star team; a team that has impact players, role players, leaders, and mediators. That perfect blend, molded by the joint efforts of the personnel department and coaching staff is what has been lacking.
I believe Dawn Aponte should stay as the capologist, as long as she’s only running numbers; she can’t be a wedge that can be driven between the coach and the GM. For all the issues with talent and coaching on this team, the cap situation has been solid under her watchful eye and the team will require her expertise if they’re going to maneuver under the cap which is currently a situation requiring financial creativity to navigate.
Ideally the new head coach will be someone with recent success, coming in with a ton of confidence and a clear understanding of what it takes to cultivate a winner. Someone who has been an integral part of that cultivation at his prior organization. Not a retread who’s been exiled from a struggling team or a has been from once upon a time that is only a viable option again because he built himself back up as a coordinator on a winning team. The head coach needs to be new blood, with a fresh perspective and someone the fan base can rally behind. Some believe in giving coaches second chances but I say the ones that are worth it, get it right the first time around more often than not.
My personal favorite candidate is Mike Shula; he’s coached Cam Newton as a position coach and then later helped his QB win the past two division crowns as the offensive coordinator. Plus his bloodlines will excite the fan base. Shula’s also had head coaching experience in the SEC and recruited talent that Nick Saban immediately began to win with; not to mention he also guided that institution out of major sanctions which I believe are a testament to his character and fortitude. I’d entrust him with the decision of filling out his staff accordingly and finding a GM who can get him the type of talent he wants to coach. Of course, he’d have to find an experienced defensive coordinator to right the ship of the worst defense in franchise history. It’d also be huge for him to bring in a veteran QB coach who can work with Ryan Tannehill on his mechanics and pocket awareness, as his time with Zac Taylor has reached it’s ceiling and Tannehill needs a fresh start with coaching as much as anyone on the roster. I do advocate a young, up and coming offensive coordinator as Shula is an offensive mind who will have a role on that side of the football and has probably had his eye on someone like Ken Dorsey tabbed for the opportunity.
All in all, Shula is just my favorite candidate and I’m certain the Miami Dolphins will conduct an extensive coaching search that is going to take a while to complete, I don’t see this unfolding quickly. Either way, with Tannenbaum leading the charge, it’s incredibly important for him to focus on the synergy of relationships between head coach and GM, and the type of relationships that coach can forge with players inside his locker room, because the right leadership can bring out those types of qualities in key players. Leadership is what this illustrious franchise has been missing for a decade, hopefully this offseason will be the one where that bleeding stops.
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