Another disappointing campaign has come and gone for the Miami Dolphins with coaching being a season-long issue. That is why owner Stephen Ross and VP of football operations Mike Tannenbaum must move heaven and earth to make Sean Payton the team’s new head coach.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Sean Payton hasn’t been fired. He may not be fired. In fact, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees recently said he expects to be back on the bayou along with his head coach for the 2016 season.
Meanwhile some, like the Sun Sentinel’s Omar Kelly, have ripped Payton for the Saints failing to qualify for the playoffs for three out of the last four campaigns including the last two seasons.
Kelly said that Payton ran the Saints into the ground.
Into the ground after missing the playoffs for two seasons. Two. That would be a luxury for the Dolphins.
Before Payton was hired, the Saints were a laughing stock. They made the playoffs just five times and only made it past the Wild Card round once in between 1967 to 2005. They had a top 10 offense in both yards and points only three times.
Since Payton became coach they made the playoffs and put together 10-plus win seasons five times. In his ten seasons in New Orleans, the Saints have had eight top 10 offenses in points and yardage – including two seasons of first placed rankings in both categories – under Payton.
If the former offensive coordinator of the New York Giants has run the Saints into the ground then by Kelly’s logic Don Shula ran the Dolphins into the ground in the late 70s and 80s only to usher in resurgences in the following decade.
But what’s that you say? Payton has had Brees as his quarterback for his entire tenure and Brees is the type of player that would make any coach look like a genius.
However, the opposite may be the truth. Before Brees met up with Payton, the Purdue alum was struggling in San Diego. He only put together two seasons of QB ratings above 90 and made the playoffs once in the Golden State. Those struggles ultimately led to the Chargers picking up Phillip Rivers and letting Brees go after the 2005 season.
The rest is history. Brees set records, won a Super Bowl, threw for over four times as many touchdowns (despite playing in less than three times as many games) in New Orleans as he did San Diego. His touchdown percentage went up while his interception percentage decreased. In every season but one, Brees put together ratings that were over 90 while paired with Payton.
This is just a brief list of what Saints head coach has done. This and more explains why every team with a coaching vacancy is drooling over trading for him.
Yes, you get what you pay for. If the Dolphins want him, they may have to trade some picks for Payton as the Saints haven’t fired him yet and they would be foolish to do so now.
Back in 2013, NFL’s Future estimated Payton’s worth as two first round draft choices. A couple losing seasons may bring that down a peg or two, but what would that be? A first and a second or third round pick? That’s still a good haul for the Saints.
Furthermore, the cap-strapped Dolphins need as many picks as they can get their grubby mitts on. But the gamble may be worth it.
Trades for coaches have happened only four times in recent history and they all paid some dividends. The last time the Dolphins did it, they acquired some guy named Shula.
In 2001, Oakland received two first rounds picks (2002 and 2003) and two second round picks (2002 and 2004) for letting Gruden go to Tampa Bay.
Gruden coached seven seasons with Tampa and won the 2002 Super Bowl against his former employers while the Raiders are on coach number nine. Since Gruden’s departure, Oakland’s qualified for the playoffs only once.
In 2000, the Patriots gave the New York Jets a first round pick (2000), a fourth-round choice (2001), and seventh round selection (2002) for Bill Belichick.
Belichick was a coordinator and in the midst of taking over for Parcells when the Patriots made this deal. New England went 5-11 in his first year which would be the only time New England would win less than nine games for the next 15 seasons.
The Jets compensated the Patriots with a first (1999), second (1998), third and fourth round crop of picks for Bill Parcells in 1997.
Parcells quickly rebuilt the Jets turning them from a 1-15 joke to a 9-7 club in one season. The next year the finished 12-4 (the most single season wins in franchise history), revived an embarrassed fan base, made the playoffs for the first time since 1988 and accumulated more than eight games for the first time since 1986.
The most recent instance entailed Herm Edwards going to the Kansas City Chiefs while the Jets gained a fourth-round selection.
Edwards guided the Chiefs to the playoffs in his first year, but quickly lost his luster after two double-digit loss seasons. Though Edwards was less proven than the other three coaches and less so than Payton as well.
So is it worth it to acquire Payton? Well, earlier this week it didn’t seem plausible as ProFootballTalk reported that Payton was not interested in the Miami coaching job.
That seemed to put a huge monkey wrench into the idea of a Dolphins-Payton marriage, but Kelly reports the opposite: that the Dolphins want Payton and he’s intrigued by the gig.
Not only that but it appears the Saints only want a second round pick for him as Kelly reported.
Therefore, it appears that this rumor is at an impasse. Depending on who is right could mean the difference between Ross finally landing the big name coach that’s eluded him since becoming owner or having to settle for potential.
Needless to say, the Dolphins have to do everything they can to make Payton their new head coach. He revived an organization that was DOA before he took over. He turned Brees into an elite quarterback and created an offense that still to this day is one of the top performing units in the league.
Any notion that he ran the team into the ground can only be made because he lifted the team out of the dirt to begin with. And who better to take the Dolphins out of the dark ages than a man who already did it?
Trades for coaches usually work out well for the acquiring franchise and Payton is a football mind that is well worth a second-round pick, if that is really all that the Saints are asking. Heck, it’s worth a few picks.
The Dolphins have tried and failed with coordinators like Joe Philbin, Tony Sparano and Cam Cameron. What they need now is someone who can save this organization from itself. Someone who knows how to build, how to lead and how to win.
What the Miami Dolphins need is Sean Payton.