There have been multiple reports over the past two days on whether Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano would be the head coach by the end of the week. There were questions on who would replace him. There were questions on what Sparano thought on all of the speculation, and most of all, there were questions on what in the heck was Urban Meyer doing standing on the sideline with Fins owner Stephen Ross.
The Dolphins coaching situation is in turmoil, but one rumor that has gone relatively unnoticed over the past two weeks is that of “consultant” Eric Mangini helping out his friend, Ross, with some of the football decisions that need to be made.
While Ross has multiple friends in the business, such as Meyer, Carl Peterson, and even former owner Wayne Huizenga still has some say left in the organization, it may just be Mangini who is the darkhorse in the coaching race.
Yes, Ross is looking to make a splash, and luring BIll Cowher or Jon Gruden away from the television networks may just answer his fetish with the glitzy moves, Mangini may just be the best pick for Ross, and the one he is most comfortable with.
Both sides have denied the consultant job having anything to do with a future coaching gig, but there is still a long period of time between now and the end of the season for Ross to convince Mangini to get back to his old lifestyle.
While some might say that current Dolphins coaches Mike Nolan, Karl Dorrell, and Todd Bowles may be the best candidates to supplant Sparano, let’s take a deeper look into each mans unit, and how they are faring this year:
First let’s start with Nolan’s defense. After a surprise campaign season last year, in which we saw the Dolphins defense finish as a top ten overall defense, the squad has now dropped back down to earth, and have looked abysmal at times. Last year Nolan may have been the top candidate to get the replacement job, especially with his past head coaching experience, but this year the players have just not responded to his system for whatever reason, and the only change is the “upgrade” of Kevin Burnett in place of Channing Crowder. It’s either Crowder was highly underappreciated as a Dolphin, or Nolan’s great statistical season was an anomaly.
Moving on to Nolan’s understudy, Todd Bowles who coaches the defensive backs and also is the assistant head coach. Bowles has scored a couple of head coaching interviews in the past two years, and at this point would be the most likely candidate to serve as the interim head coach. His secondary has underwhelmed this year, with Reshad Jones playing mediocre at best, Sean Smith still struggling to make a difference, and Vontae Davis suffering throughout the season with injury woes. If Ross is forced to make a move during the season, Bowles would be the likely choice to take over for Sparano.
Karl Dorrell is currently serving as the Dolphins wide receivers coach. With all of the trouble that the receivers have had with catching the ball, if Ross was smart, and hired a guy whose unit has over performed, Dorrell would not have any business getting this job. He may have already coached at UCLA, but during his time there, he did nothing to get the program back to the glory days of Troy Aikman.
With those three candidates only likely to get interim jobs, if at all, Mangini is still in play here. Remember, Mangini was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns during the same time that current offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was. Mangini knows this offense well enough to even take over this season if he was interested. But backtracking here, Mangini has said that he is not interested in the job at the point. This isn’t his first time declining interest in the Dolphins, as he turned down a gig as the defensive coordinator during his time as the New England’s secondary coach.
A complete coaching staff shakedown is in order here. Sparano did this to himself. General manager Jeff Ireland did nothing to help his cause. At the rate the Dolphins are going, they will need to bring in a completely different staff, including some spots in the front office, including general manager.
While Mangini is serving as a consultant, one cannot deny that he will study this roster, and the coaching staff. By the end of the season he should have a pretty good idea what he would do if he were the coach in South Beach. He would have a pretty good idea of whether he would break the bank for Andrew Luck. He would have a pretty good idea of what is nagging the Dolphins and holding him back. The bottomline is, he would provide the different perspective on a team that is about as down in the dumps as one could be right now.
But even more importantly, by the end of the season, Stephen Ross may convince Mangini to come down from his broadcasting/consultant job, and help out a friend in need, and lead the Miami Dolphins back to glory.
Yes, rumors may fly of Cowher or Gruden coming to Miami, but they already turned down coaching the Dolphins last year, Ross is going to give Mangini the first crack at the job if he wants it. He has been involved as a consultant within the organization since the middle of the off-season, and the lockout, out of all of the coaching candidates, Mangini will be the most prepared to take the job. He also may be the best man for the job in the long run, as Ross may learn that it is not always the most glamorous choice that comes out on top, but the scrappy, never satisfied choice like Mangini that finally gets your team over the hump and into the promised land.