The Miami Dolphins search for a head coach is now a week old. It's been a busy week for the Dolphins, who seem to be one of the busiest franchises in the head coach sweepstakes. However, everything hinges on one man right now. Former Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher is still deciding between the St. Louis Rams and the Dolphins head coach positions.
And, until he decides, all the Dolphins can do is continue to interview others, and build their backup plan.
Fisher was in St. Louis yesterday, touring their facilities and meeting with quarterback Sam Bradford. While this is not necessarily a sign that Fisher has made a decision, given that his initial interview for the job took place in Denver with the Rams owner, and not at the team's facilities, it does exacerbate the feeldings of dread sweeping through many Dolphins fans right now.
It looks like, if all the "sources," "reports," and rumors are true, that the Dolphins will miss out on their top choice to replace Tony Sparano.
But, that does not mean the Dolphins are not ready for that to happen.
The Dolphins have already interviewed several other potential candidates, and lined up a few more. The Dolphins began their coaching search on the first day possible, with the interview of their interim head coach Todd Bowles. While Bowles has been considered a possible head coach candidate for a few years now, the Dolphins would like to keep Bowles as a defensive coordinator next season. His interview, however, did satisfy the NFL's Rooney Rule, designed to ensure a minority candidate is interviewed for all head coach vacancies.
The Dolphins then moved on to Fisher last Tuesday, with the Chicago Bears' Dave Toub following behind that on Wednesday. Toub is the Bears' special teams coach, and is believed to be the top candidate for Chicago if a change from current head coach Lovie Smith happened.
Miami then spoke to the Green Bay Packers' offensive coordinator Joe Philbin on Friday and Saturday. Philbin's interview had to be completed this week since the Packers had a bye through the first round of the playoffs. Conventional thought is, if the Dolphins were to hire Philbin, they would then make a push to sign soon to be free agent quarterback Matt Flynn. Flynn has served as the backup to Aaron Rodgers for the past four seasons, and could come in to a Philbin run team already knowing the basic offensive scheme.
But, the Dolphins continue to await word from Fisher. It has been reported from multiple sources that Fisher's intent is to sign with the Rams, but is allowing Dolphins' owner Stephen Ross a chance to up his current contract offer, either in terms of money or power. It's believed Fisher's decision should come within the next 24-48 hours. Sports Illustrated's Peter King tweeted late last night:
Meanwhile, the Dolphins will continue their interview process this week, with at least two more coordinators heading to Miami. The Atlanta Falcons have given permission to speak with their offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, who spent two years in Miami, one as an offensive coordinator and one as a tight end coach. The Dolphins are also expected to speak with Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer this week. Both teams lost in their playoff matchups this past weekend, paving the way for the interviews to commence.
Other names popular among fans include the Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and the Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski. Neither has been mentioned among reports of interviews being lined up, but, once the Fisher decision is announced, Miami could continue their search by adding both of them to the schedule.
Also popular candidates, currently unavailable due to the playoffs, are New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, Jr., and Green Bay Packers Assistant Head Coach Winston Moss. If the Dolphins would like to interview either of those candidates, or any other playoff teams' coaches, they will have to wait until that team has been eliminated from the playoffs. They can also interview candidates from Super Bowl teams during the week between the Conference Championship games and the Super Bowl.
As the Dolphins coaching search continues to revolve around the decision of Fisher, the team is building a large portfolio on other possible candidates. It's just a waiting game now to see if they will get Fisher or have to move on to their back up plan.