With the news that Miami will be firing Tony Sparano at the end of the season, thinking of potential replacements is the next logical step. The Dolphins, and other NFL teams, may have to get creative, or go down the well-traveled road, if you will, to find replacements.
The big 3 names out of coaching are Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, and Jeff Fisher. I could see the Dolphins interested in all of them, but with Jeff Ireland reportedly being retained as the GM, I am not sure the any of them would be a fit assuming they’d want more of a say in personnel moves. Gruden just signed a 5-year extension with Monday Night Football this season, which I also would assume rules him out of any opening.
If you take those names out, then you start looking at the top assistants around the league. In Miami, offense sells. Always has. Plus, Stephen Ross is an owner that wants excitement. Problem is the high-powered offenses around the league are run by head coaches in many cases (New Orleans, Green Bay). And the list of offensive coordinators with head-coaching experience reads as follows: Mike Martz (Chicago), Scott Linehan (Detroit), Mike Mularkey (Atlanta), Cam Cameron (Baltimore), Kevin Gilbride (NY Giants), Chris Palmer (Tennessee), Marty Mornhinweg (Philadelphia) and Josh McDaniels (St. Louis).
Who’s excited? Nobody?
How about young college coaching hot-shots? Les Miles? Kevin Sumlin? Mike Gundy? He is a man, and just 43! The Dolphins failure with Nick Saban recently would probably serve as a deterrent.
The two names I’d keep an eye on are Rob Chudzinski, current Panthers offensive coordinator, and a former Miami Hurricanes assistant and Dave Toub, the Bears special-teams coach.
Chud has done an excellent job this year coaching up Cam Newton and the Dolphins seem likely (I hope!) to select a quarterback in the 1st round of this year’s draft.
Toub coaches the most dynamic and creative special teams unit in football, and before you poo-poo the idea of hiring a special teams coach, remember John Harbaugh of the Ravens was one in Philly before taking over in Baltimore. Marv Levy was one too. I’ve also heard Dan Reeves say special teams coaches do more on their own than any other assistant, they are in charge of their area with little input from the head coach. They are also the only member of the staff to address the entire team, aside from the head coach, so speaking to the entire team would not be something new for Toub.
Make no mistake, jobs are going to open up. In Jacksonville one is already open. Kansas City just opened up too. It’s possible Miami, San Diego, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Indianapolis could follow. It’s just not a buyer’s market this season.