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With rumors swirling, big decisions to be made by Miami Dolphins

We all are aware of the decisions that the Miami Dolphins must make following the season. We all know the rumors that are out there already - and they are only going to grow by the day as the season winds down and the offseaso ramps up.

The biggest rumor, of course, centers around Bill Cowher and his impending return to head coaching. ESPN's latest report this weekend claims that the Dolphins are among Cowher's top three teams he hopes to have an opportunity to coach in 2011. But it's important to remember back to this time last year, when ESPN circulated rumors that Cowher was "primed to get back in the game," even going so far as to claim Bill was "laying the groundwork, making calls to piece together a coaching staff and acting like a man who will be patrolling the sidelines once again next season."

That was clearly an inaccurate report. ESPN's latest could be as well.

Regardless, the Dolphins have some decisions to make. Changes clearly need to be made. The question becomes which changes are the ones absolutely necessary this offseason. And which ones can be made to put the Dolphins in a better position than they are currently in. After all, it's not a good idea to make changes just for the sake of making changes.

The hunt for a starting quarterback

Take the quarterback position, for example. I'm one of the many that have completely soured on Chad Henne. I've seen enough of him. The Dolphins need to find a new long-term solution because, frankly, Henne is not it. The quicker all of us come to terms with this, the less painful everything will be as the great quarterback search in Miami continues.

But like I said, making changes for the sake of making changes is a bad idea. If the Dolphins can't land a top quarterback in the draft - and right now I only consider Andrew Luck, Ryan Mallett, and Cam Newton top quarterbacks (sorry Jake Locker fans, but I'm not sold on him just yet) - where else can Miami turn? Kevin Kolb or Vince Young? Neither is clearly superior to Henne and neither will necessarily be available for the right price. Free agency? Not too much ti choose from there, assuming Mike Vick is franchised or re-signs with the Eagles.

So we could very well be stuck with Henne for another year. Prepare yourselves for that possibility, everyone, and hope for the best.

New offensive coordinator an obvious need but not a total solution to offensive woes

The next obvious question becomes who makes the decision on the quarterback. Will Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano be back? What about offensive coordinator Dan Henning?

Henning is likely gone after the season - and not a moment too soon. But a new offensive coordinator doesn't fix everything instantly. There's a great piece from Dave Hyde about some current offensive coordinators who have ties to the Dolphins - three guys who were chased out of Miami by angry mobs but have found success with their current teams. Why? All three have good quarterbacks.

That's the most important thing to keep in mind. Bringing in a new head coach and new offensive coordinator doesn't necessarily make the Dolphins a better team. The most important piece - and the one that money can't simply go out and buy - is a starting quarterback.

Are Sparano's days numbered?

Still, the most immediate decision to be made by this organization is whether or not head coach Tony Sparano returns. Sparano himself doesn't seem to concerned. When asked about if he's met with owner Stephen Ross since the loss to Buffalo, Sparano responded:

"I haven’t visited with him, no. That’s not my problem right now. My problem is to get ready for the Detroit Lions. That’s what I’m charged with."

"I just need to get my team ready to play this week. That’s my concern – get the team ready to play for the Detroit Lions this week. Everything else is out of my control. Let somebody else deal with it."

That's a reasonable response from the head coach. And he's right - somebody else is going to deal with it.

That somebody, of course, is Stephen Ross - who cannot be happy with his team's performance this year, particularly at home. That, of course, is what will be fueling the head coaching rumors.

But people need to understand that it's expensive to simply clear house and hire a new head coach - especially a big name candidate like Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden. And Ross would already have to pay Bill Parcells the $4 million he's owed in 2011 along with the salaries of Sparano and Ireland in 2011 if they were to get fired. Fans then expect him to dish out the ridiculous money it'll take to lure Cowher or Gruden to Miami? That's not a fair expectation.

There's also the possibility of firing Sparano and not landing one of the top coaching candidates out there. What then?

Lots of decisions to be made - and I'm glad I'm not the one that has to make them. I just hope the guy who is making them knows what the hell he's doing.