HEAD COACH SEARCH UPDATE
We talked yesterday about this rumor making waves that the Dolphins have already offered Tony Sparano the head coaching job and that he will accept the offer once the Cowboys' season is over. Of course, for two main reasons, this would be illegal. One, it would mean the Dolphins simply blew off the "Rooney Rule." And two, it's against the rules to offer a job to somebody whose team is still playing. Regardless, I've been told that this is actually common practice. It just rarely ever receives this kind of attention.
Well, ProFootballTalk adds more fuel to this fire. They are reporting that Sparano is already beginning to line up his staff for Miami:
Though we're not reporting this as hard news, we've been advised to keep a close eye on a man named David Lee.
Lee is slated to be the next offensive coordinator at Mississippi under Houston Nutt. Lee served as offensive coordinator in 2007 under Nutt in Arkansas.
And Lee spent the prior four years working with Sparano and Parcells in Dallas.
There's a rumor that Lee has told Nutt that he won't be coming to Mississippi, and that Lee instead will be on Sparano's staff in Miami. As the rumor goes, Nutt already is looking for another offensive coordinator.
This has grown into quite the circus. I'm sure Parcells isn't too happy about all of these leaks. And he will likely come under even more fire if, when all is said and done, Sparano is named head coach AND David Lee is named to Sparano's staff, likely as the quarterback coach (or maybe even as offensive coordinator, though I would certainly have my reservations about Lee as an OC in the NFL...talk about an "all rookie staff"). I don't know much about Lee except for the fact that he is given credit as a big part of the development and success of Tony Romo. I guess that's good enough for me. I'd be interested in seeing what he can do with John Beck.
Meanwhile, despite all these rumors, the interviewing continues. Leslie Frazier, the Vikings defensive coordinator, is scheduled to interview later today while Rex Ryan, former Ravens defensive coordinator, is scheduled to interview on Tuesday. That makes 3 official interviews. I'd heard that the Dolphins had as many as 6 candidates they wanted to talk to, but it remains to be seen who those 3 are. Either way, more interviews are likely and no official decision will likely be made for some time.
And speaking of Frazier, many people think he's just being interviewed by Miami to comply with the "Rooney Rule." However, Tim Graham writes that Frazier is a very worthy head coaching candidate and shouldn't be taken lightly:
Frazier owns two Super Bowl rings, one from his playing days as the starting cornerback for the epic 1985 Bears defense and another as secondary coach for the defending champion Colts.
Frazier is a legitimate candidate, and while he might get beaten out for the job, his credentials deserve a fair shake.
Here's what I do know about Frazier. His first job as a defensive coordinator was in Cincinnati. He spent the 2003 and 2004 seasons there. While in Cincy, he did improve that defense. It went from being ranked 28th in '03 to being ranked 19th in '04. Also, he made that defense much more opportunistic, increasing takeaways from 24 to 36 in 2004. In fact, those 36 takeaways were good enough for 3rd in the NFL. He then spent 2005 and 2006 in Indianapolis, where he had the title Special Assistant to the Head Coach as well as being the defensive backs coach. He is credited with being a huge reason for the growth and maturity of Bob Sanders. And like we said earlier, this past year he was Mike Tomlin's successor in Minnesota as defensive coordinator.
BIGGEST NEED: TALENT
I usually like to get on Armando Salguero because, a lot of times, he writes some dumb stuff. But this one recent article is actually right on target. He points out that with all this talk about coaches, the primary issue with the Miami Dolphins is the talent level of the players on the field. Here's an excerpt:
THE BIGGER PROBLEM
Simply, the Dolphins need better players much more than they needed better coaches.
Look to the locker room, Bill, if you want to understand why the Dolphins were 1-15. That is where most of the problems have been happening the past six seasons that ended without a playoff spot. It's the players.
More than the salary cap, more than the coaching staffs, more than the goofy helmet insignia and uniform that intimidate no one, it has been the players who have failed this franchise most consistently.
It doesn't take a million-dollar salary and long title to figure that out. Many of Miami's players have lately gotten too slow, too small, too injured, too flabby, or too disinterested, to make a difference.
Did they usually try hard on Sundays? Sure.
But all of their effort was nothing more than activity that didn't lead to accomplishment.
Armando really hits the nail on the head here. But for the first time in a long time, I'm actually confident that our front office will bring in the right guys to turn this thing around. That's one thing Bill Parcells can do: evaluate talent. And everything I've heard about Jeff Ireland makes me believe that he'll be successful in his new gig as GM.
Now, everyone's going to point to the draft and say the Dolphins must hit on their picks. And they're right. This is a very big draft for the Fins. But even more important, in my opinion, will be free agency. The Dolphins are going to have some serious money to toss at players. So how will they utilize it? That'll be the key questions. Bad investments in this offseason will simply kill any hope of a relatively quick turnaround. Parcells and Ireland must use their cap space wisely. And I'll go on record and say that the most important player the Dolphins can sign this offseason is one of two options: Asante Samuel or Marcus Trufant. An upgrade at cornerback is desperately needed and these 2 are two of the league's best.
So with all this coaching talk, we can't let ourselves forget that there are more glaring needs than the right coaches. And those are the right players.