Miami Dolphins Coaching Candidates: Which group do you target?


I take a break from doing individual profiles for a moment to determine which is the more popular type of coach people would like in Miami. There are going to be a few different categories we break down the candidates in. We have those experienced coaches that have previously won Super Bowls such as Bill Cowher and up-and-coming offensive/defensive coordinators such as Pete Carmichael. Additionally, we have those that have previously been Head Coaches, but did not previously win a Super Bowl, such as Mike Nolan.

Super Bowl Winning Coaches: Bill Cowher, Brian Billick, John Gruden, and Tony Dungy would be the candidates in this area. Many refer to these coaches as "retreads" and group them in with prior Head Coaches that have not won a Super Bowl. Many would prefer to stay away from this group because the stats show that no Head Coach has ever won a Super Bowl with two teams. I like to counter this theory by pointing out that of hundreds of Head Coaches in the history of the NFL and 28 Head Coaches to have won the Super Bowl, only 6 Head Coaches have gone to coach for another team. Those coaches include Mike Ditka, George Seifert, Mike Shanahan, Jimmy Johnson, Bill Parcells, and Mike Holmgren. Don Shula was a game away from being included in this group because he lost in Super Bowl III against the Jets. It is true that none of the 6 members have won a Super Bowl, giving the group a 0% success rate. Unfortunately, 6 of hundreds is a very small sample size. This is the equivalent of saying someone like WR Brandon Banks is a better passer than Tom Brady because his completion % is higher even though he's 1-1 in passing. I also like to counter this theory by adding that Mike Holmgren and Bill Parcells have both brought a second team to the Super Bowl. That means 2 of 6 of these members, or 33% of the group, has brought a second team to the Super Bowl. That % is higher than any other group of coaches that has brought a team to the Super Bowl. If Shula, Holmgren, and Parcells actually won the Super Bowl games they were in, 43% of these candidates would have won a Super Bowl with a second team. That is by far superior than any other group mentioned in this list. These guys were that close.

Ditka, Shanahan, Johnson, and Seifert are the only coaches of this group to not have gone to the Super Bowl. Ditka and Johnson. Ditka lasted only three seasons in New Orleans, but his stint was very disappointing. Like Ditka, Seifert last only three seasons with the Panthers. He initially turned the team around and made them competitive, but his final season in 2001 was a disappointment with Chris Weinke at QB that led to a 1-15 season after Seifert started his Carolina tenure going 8-8 and 7-9. Jimmy Johnson lasted four years in Miami, longer than Ditka and Seifert, but he is considered a disappointment to some fans, partly because of his treatment of Dan Marino. While Johnson is classified as a failure in Miami despite never having a losing season and taking the Dolphins to the playoffs in 3 of 4 seasons, he at least helped build Miami's defense for the future.

While there is never a guarantee that a prior Super Bowl winning Head Coach, or any Head Coach for that matter, will ever bring a team to the Super Bowl, I simply disagree with the perception that it's a poor move to hire someone from this group. Some have said these coaches "lack the drive" necessary to win a second Super Bowl, but I think the fact that 33% of them have gone back and 50% of them were continuous playoff contenders disproves that notion.

Second Chance Head Coaches that haven't won before: This group is also considered a "retreat" category, but many do like this group because they believe Head Coaches can learn from past failures. Plenty of coaches, such as Don Shula, Mike Shanahan, Dick Vermeil, Tom Coughlin, and Bill Belichick have won Super Bowls with their second franchise. There does appear to be some truth to this as some have admittedly changed their methods in their second chance. Popular choices in this category are Eric Mangini, Marty Mornhinweg, Mike Nolan, and Mike Martz. The sample size for this group is much larger than those that have won Super Bowls and their % of success is lower because of the amount of coaches in this category. For every Belichick, there is another Dave Wannstedt. Many factors determine how successful the coach will be, such as the talent they had available in their first job, the willingness for them to recognize and change their weak points, and the availability to video tape opponents.

Hot Prospect Offensive Coordinators: Many love this group because they believe Miami's defense is stout and only need to fix their offense. There are many established coordinators available, such as Pete Carmichael and Bruce Arians. There are also rising stars such as Joe Philbin and Rob Chudzinski. You also have the Brian Schottenheimers that Jet fans wish we'd relieve them from. Coordinators can definitely have success and many of the coaches that would fall in previous categories such as Martz, Belichick, and Cowher that were also coordinators prior to being Head Coaches. The big challenge for coordinators is to learn how to handle the duties of a Head Coach and quite often, the ability to trust someone else to handle the Offensive Coordinator. Many Head Coaches try to keep their Coordinator duties once they're a Head Coach and they become overburdened. It's important for them and their success to know how to balance the job. On top of that, they are also more heavily involved in the entire game plan, not just on offense or defense, and more involved in personnel decisions. A successful coordinator just sometimes doesn't become a successful Head Coach because they're not as successful in these areas.

Hot Prospect Defensive Coordinators: This group is the least discussed, again because of Miami's defense already being a strength. Still, there are some defensive coordinators out there that are doing great things and because they also fit into the "retread" categories, people may believe they may have more success the second chance. Mike Nolan is the most popular candidate in this group, partly because he's currently Miami's Defensive Coordinator and won't make any changes. He also fits into that "retread" category as well. Gregg Williams is another well respected Defensive Coordinator that is sometimes discussed and in a few years, I expect Wade Phillips may get more attention as well. The same downfalls that applies to their offensive counterparts applies to this group as well.

Hot Prospect College Coaches: This group is always well discussed as well for Head Coaches with loads of potential. Pete Carroll, Butch Davis, Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson, and Nick Saban are popular coaches that have gone from college to the NFL. Many former college coaches fail in the NFL because they realize they can't just scout talent and that coaching methods for professional football players are drastically different than college players. NFL players just respond in a different manner. A big cause of failure for these coaches is they fail to adjust their methods to the NFL game and may also fail to adjust to NFL philosophies. The level of competition is on an even scale so coaches can't rely on their team just being much more talented as a way to beat their opponent. Bob Stoops is always a hot candidate to be a NFL coach and coaches like Les Miles and Bo Pelini are popular names as well.

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