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Miami Dolphins Coach Search Continues into Round Two

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Dolphins interim coach Todd Bowles interviewed for a second time with Miami on Wednesday.  Bowles is one of three finalists for the Dolphins' head coach position.
Dolphins interim coach Todd Bowles interviewed for a second time with Miami on Wednesday. Bowles is one of three finalists for the Dolphins' head coach position.

The Miami Dolphins continued the search for their next head coach on Wednesday, interviewing two candidates for a second time, and scheduling the third finalist for a second interview today. Dolphins interim head coach Todd Bowles and Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin both met with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland in New York yesterday.

Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was scheduled to make the trip to New York today. McCoy feels so strongly that he is the leading contender for the Dolphins' job that he removed his name from consideration for the Oakland Raiders' coaching vacancy, turning down their request for an interview on Wednesday. McCoy explained to the Raiders that he does not want to do anything to jeopardize his position as the top candidate for Miami's job.

Several leagues sources have stated that McCoy is Ireland's favorite for the position, while Ross is leaning toward Philbin. While Bowles is considered a possibility for the position, it's more likely he will be asked to stay on the staff as the defensive coordinator. Former defensive coordinator Mike Nolan was hired earlier this week by the Atlanta Falcons to serve in the same position with them.

Bowles has served as a defensive backs coach throughout his career, having never reached the coordinator level. However, he considered a top head coach candidate around the league, and, counting the Dolphins' job, he has been considered for five head coaching vacancies over the past couple of years. He has been with the Dolphins since 2008, and is a Bill Parcells disciple. Bowles has the only head coach experience - all three games he coached to end MIami's season - of the three finalists for the job.

Philbin began his coaching career as an offensive line coach, working his way up to the Packers offensive coordinator position in 2007. Although head coach Mike McCarthy calls the plays in Green Bay, Philbin is considered a strong candidate for a head coaching position. The Packers' offense has ranked in the top eight in total yards each of the last five years. McCarthy endorsed Philbin for the job yesterday, stating, "I think he would make an excellent head coach. I've said that before."

McCoy is an interesting candidate. He has been the Broncos' offensive coordinator for the last three years, having served in various offensive assistant positions with the Carolina Panthers for the nine years prior. McCoy was able to reconstruct his offense mid-season this year, changing from a tradition offense under Kyle Orton to an option based offense with Tim Tebow at the helm. McCoy has seen six 3,000 yard passers from his efforts, four times with Jake Delhomme in Carolina and twice with Orton in Denver. McCoy also knows former Carolina, and current Dolphin, Matt Moore.

Each coach has their strengths and their weaknesses. It could all come down to the proposed staff each of them could build. Bowles would consider keeping the strengths of the current Dolphins staff, filling in places he sees as needs, while Philbin could try to poach parts from the Packers. McCoy has worked most of his career with John Fox, and could turn to the Broncos for a large portion of his staff, but could also look to former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio to serve as his defensive coordinator. Del Rio served as the Panthers defensive coordinator in 2002.

Interestingly, there are reports that "anonymous" league sources have come out in the last couple of day, disparaging McCoy's candidacy for the Dolphins job. They point to his inability to develop Tebow into a pocket passer with stronger fundamentals, as well as the 1-4 start and end to the Broncos' season as signs that McCoy should not be made a head coach. They also point out that Denver's AFC West crown this year came, in no small part, thanks to Miami. The Dolphins attempted a two-point conversion against the Broncos in the fourth quarter, a conversion they missed. If Miami had kicked the extra point, they could have held on for a 16-15 win, rather than a 18-15 overtime loss.

These comments all come from personnel thought to be close to Bowles or Philbin, signaling their belief that McCoy will be the Dolphins lead candidate for the job.

The Dolphins are expected to hire a coach by the end of this week. Next week's Senior Bowl practices is seen as the pressing deadline in front of the Dolphins, where Ireland and former head coach Tony Sparano were usually seen sitting next to each other, scouting players projected for mid-round draft picks. It would be expected that the new head coach and Ireland would both be in Mobile, Alabama next week.