Earlier today, I wrote that the Miami Dolphins making a change at the head coach position was down to "when," not "if" the team makes the move. Everything seems to be pointing to Miami once again looking for a new coach this offseason, and a fan base once again hoping the team finds the right guy.
Jimmy Johnson 36-28 (2-3 in playoffs)
Dave Wannstedt 42-31 (1-2 in playoffs)
Jim Bates (Interim) 3-4 (no playoffs)
Nick Saban 15-17 (no playoffs)
Cam Cameron 1-15 (no playoffs)
Tony Sparano 29-32 (0-1 in playoffs)
Todd Bowles (Interim) 2-1 (no playoffs)
Since the Don Shula era ended after the 1995 season, with Shula retiring with the most wins in NFL history, the most wins in Dolphins franchise history, and the highest winning percentage as a coach for the Dolphins (.659), Miami has run through coaches. Wannstedt is the longest tenured coach for Miami since Shula's retirement, with Wannstedt also holding the second highest winning percentage for the Dolphins (.575).
It appears that Joe Philbin, now in his third year with the team, will soon make the list of coaches who have come and gone from the franchise that once held the highest winning percentage in the NFL. Philbin is currently 22-24 as a head coach, and the Dolphins are 7-7 on the year. Once again, Miami seems to be plodding their way to mediocrity.
There is talent on this team, and they should be winning more than they have so far this year, and so far in Philbins' tenure. Firing Philbin now and looking for a new man to take the helm of the franchise could make sense. At the very least, it would calm a fan base sick of settling for field goal and .500 records.
There is a chance that it could be the wrong move, however.
Take the Dallas Cowboys as an example. Midway through the 2010 season, Jason Garrett took over as the head coach, finishing the year with a 5-3 record. the three years after that, Dallas finished 8-8, 8-8, and 8-8. The Cowboys, "America's Team," was stuck in the rut of mediocrity, just as the Dolphins are stuck in it. Now in his fourth full season as a head coach, Garrett has the Cowboys fighting for the number one overall seed in the NFC Playoff race, with a 10-4 record through 14 games. Patience paid off for the Cowboys, despite fan and media calls for Garrett to be fired.
Could Miami's turn around be just a year away? If Ross does not fire Philbin this week, instead allowing him to coach out the remainder of the year, and Miami wins against two sub-.500 teams, with both the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Jets visiting the Dolphins, and Miami walks out of the season without a playoff berth, but with their first winning season since 2008, does Ross find himself caught behind his desire to see progress with the team, and the lackluster way the Dolphins have played over the past few weeks. Is progress one more win from last year?
Unfortunately, there is no way to tell unless Philbin is allowed to stay. At this point, everything seems to say Philbin will not be the head coach of the Dolphins in 2014. If he is in the same mold as Garrett, though, firing him this year could be a mistake.