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Dolphins coaching change candidates for 2016

The Miami Dolphins fired head coach Joe Philbin yesterday. Today, we take a look at several potential replacements for the former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator when Miami hires a permanent replacement in 2016.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins will be looking to hire a new head coach this offseason, having fired Joe Philbin after their Week 4 loss to the New York Jets. Who could be out there as a potential hire? We take a look this morning at some of the names that may be linked to the Dolphins this offseason, casting a wide net around the NFL and college football.

The Current Top Candidate

Dan Campbell, interim head coach, Miami Dolphins

Why would you not consider Campbell as the leading contender for the Dolphins' head coaching position next season? He has a 12 game interview to prove he can handle the job, and he has the fiery demeanor that is opposite of Joe Philbin. The players already know Campbell and reports have indicated, the players are happy he is the man who was tapped to replace Philbin. If Campbell can demonstrate an ability to improve the Dolphins' performances, even if it is not a playoff berth season, he could make an argument to Stephen Ross that he is the man for the permanent position.

The Usual Suspects

Brian Billick

The Dolphins have never shown interest in Billick, so I doubt there would be any move to make him the next head coach.

Bill Cowher

He is not interested in coming back to coaching, despite his name coming up every year. The Dolphins could look to see if that stance has changed, but do not bet on it.

Tony Dungy

Very similar to Cowher, Dungy appears happy being a commentator more than he is itching to get back into coaching.

Jon Gruden

Of this group, Gruden is probably the one most likely to be lured to South Florida, but it is going to take a lot of money to convince him to walk away from his Monday Night Football gig. He does like to work with quarterbacks, and he could see Ryan Tannehill as a player he could develop, so there might be a little intrigue.

Recycled Head Coaches

Rob Chudzinski, special assistant, Indianapolis Colts

Chudzinski may not even qualify as a "recycled" head coach, given his tenure with the Cleveland Browns only last one season. He was only 4-12 that year, but he is someone who was considered the hot coordinator when he joined the Browns for the 2013 season. He is now working with Chuck Pagano and could be looking for a second chance to prove he is head coach material.

Todd Haley, offensive coordinator, Pittsburgh Steelers

Haley spent three seasons as the Kansas City Chiefs' head coach, tallying a 19-26 record over that span.  He is fiery, to say the least, and is not afraid to get heated and let his players have it.  He has had a spat recently with Ben Roethlisberger, but the two eventually worked out their differences with the offense, and Haley is consider to be among the top offensive coordinators in the game. He specializes in developing wide receivers, and he could have a field day with Miami's younger pass catchers.

Hue Jackson, offensive coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals

After seeing the job Kevin Coyle has done with the defense, taking another Bengals assistant is a little scary, but Jackson has head coaching experience and has been impressive with the Bengals. Players really seem to like Jackson, not something that can be said of Philbin, Similar to Chudzinski above, Jackson only got one year to try to prove himself as a head coach, spending the 2011 season with the Oakland Raiders where he went 8-8.

Eric Mangini, defensive coordinator, San Francisco 49ers

Mangini spent five years as a head coach, three with the New York Jets from 2006 to 2008 followed by two with the Cleveland Browns, 2009 and 2010. He has a 33-47 career record as a head coach. He and Dolphins Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum were with the Jets at the same time, so there is some familiarity with Mangini in the Dolphins' front office.

Doug Marrone, offensive line coach/assistant head coach, Jacksonville Jaguars

Marrone has to overcome his unusual departure from the Buffalo Bills if he wants to become a head coach again in the NFL. Marrone has a three-day opt-out clause in his contract with the Bills following his second year as their head coach. He decided to use it, while still being paid his full 2015 salary. That is not a move franchise executives are going to like, but he is a coach who many consider a top candidate for any job. He's a run heavy coach, who went 15-17 in two seasons with Buffalo - including clinching their first winning record in ten years when the club finished 9-7 last year.

Josh McDaniels, offensive coordinator, New England Patriots

The former Denver Broncos head coach was in consideration for the Dolphins' position when they hired Philbin, and he should be a consideration again this time around. He has spent most of his coaching career in the Patriots' organization, working his way up from a personnel assistant to the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach before he left the team in 2009 for the Broncos' position, where he was 11-17 in a season-and-a-half. , then he spent a year as the offensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams before returning to the Patriots in 2012. It is hard to imagine McDaniels would go to another AFC East team, directly competing against his mentor Bill Belichick, but he should be near the top of the wish list for Miami.

Richard Hill from Pats Pulpit gave us a better look at the possibility of McDaniels becoming a head coach next year:

Josh McDaniels is ready to be a head coach again, but he's going to wait for the best opportunity. He had a chance to take a job each of the last two offseasons, but he didn't like how team management interfered with the football operations (Browns in 2014, 49ers in 2015), so he passed. He knows that he'll have to do a great job with his next gig, or else he might never be a head coach again.

McDaniels failed in Denver because he approached the job like he was the next Bill Belichick. He hadn't earned the right to call the shots, and to ship away the team's best quarterbacks and wide receiver. He lost the respect of the team and it was all over. Since his fall from grace, McDaniels has been able to self reflect and he understands where he went wrong.

"[I learned] the people that you work with and for are so important to you," McDaniels said to the crowd at the Super Bowl media day. "Your ability to not only to set the path, but to also be a great listener - I've said that numerous times now. That's an important part of being a leader, listening to the people that are around you.

"I think, sometimes, when you're young, you don't really understand that the same as when you go through experience like that. It was a great learning experience for me. I think I'm a better person, a better father and a better coach because of all the adversities and all the challenges that I've gone through and I hope I can continue to get better in all those roles going forward."

If McDaniels is true to his words and has become a better manager, he'll be a great option at head coach. He's regarded around the league as the best coordinator on either side of the football and he just put together one of the greatest postseason runs in NFL history. He's flexible with his game calling, he's shown an ability to adjust on the fly, and he understands how to maximize the value of each one of his players.

Hopefully that skill set will transfer when he has control of a full roster.

Raheem Morris, defensive backs coach/assistant head coach, Atlanta Falcons

The head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009 to 2011 tallied a 17-31 in his three years. Since then, he has worked as the Washington Redskins' secondary coach and is currently the assistant head coach for the Falcons. Morris is young, having gotten his first head coach shot at just age 34, he would be 40 next season. His first shot at the top position went poorly, but most of them do and then the coach can come back in the second shot having learned from his mistakes. Morris could work with the young cornerbacks on the Dolphins roster, which would be an added bonus.

Chuck Pagano, head coach, Indianapolis Colts

There is a lot of discussion that Pagano, who is in the final year of his contract, might not return to the Colts in 2016. It seems strange, given his 33-15 record, two division titles, and an AFC Championship game appearance last year, but it seems like it is Super Bowl or bust for Pagano this year. If Pagano is allowed to leave Indianapolis, it could be a move Miami has to consider, and, for Pagano, if could be a similar situation to Rex Ryan last year where he is out from one head coaching position then immediately finds another.

Jim Schwartz

There are a lot of Dolphins fans who want the team to make Schwartz the team's defensive coordinator this year, but he, according to various media reports, turned down an initial contact from Miami because he is waiting for a head coaching job. Miami could be that job.

Mike Shanahan

He's a big name, which could intrigue Stephen Ross, but he has not had the same success as of late that he had in the 1990s. Shanahan coaches the Denver Broncos from 1995 to 2008, winning Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII along the way. When John Elway retired, however, Shanahan was not able to repeat that success. He was fired at the end of the 2008 season, then was hired as the Washington Redskins' head coach in 2010. The drama over Robert Griffin III's playing time, and a really bad 2013 season, led to him being fired. He has a career record of 170-138.


Teryl Austin, defensive coordinator, Detroit Lions

The Lions are not having the greatest of years, but that could happen when you lose a defensive tackle like Ndamukong Suh. Austin was considered for several job last year, but ultimately returned to the Lions. He is considered one of the top coordinators for the 2016 head coaching search, and bringing him to Miami would ensure the team figures out how to use Suh properly.

Adam Gase, offensive coordinator, Chicago Bears

Gase has been on the cusp of a head coaching job for several years now, but has yet to land one (according to reports, he did turn down the San Francisco 49ers job last year). Like Austin, Gase is considered among the top candidates to land a top job in 2016. He has experience as Peyton Manning's offensive coordinator, which will never be a bad thing. He is just 37 years old right now, which might scare of some owners, but it could also be a strength of his as he relates to younger players.

Pep Hamilton, offensive coordinator, Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck's presence on the Colts has elevated Hamilton's prestige, but it could also hurt him when it comes to getting a head coaching job. Is Hamilton's success only because of Luck, or is Hamilton developing Luck? He was mentioned as a potential head coaching candidate after last season, and he could find himself in the interview process for jobs this year.

Ben McAdoo, offensive coordinator, New York Giants

Like Coyle might scare the Dolphins away from Bengals assistant coaches, Philbin might scare away coaches with Green Bay Packers ties, but McAdoo moved to the New York Giants for the last two years, so he might be acceptable. McAdoo worked as the tight ends coach with Green Bay under Philbin, who was the offensive coordinator, then McAdoo moved to the quarterbacks coach after Philbin was hired by Miami. He is absolutely one of those "hot names" who could see some interest from multiple teams this offseason.

Sean McDermott, defensive coordinator, Carolina Panthers

The Dolphins have tried the offensive minded head coach, and it has blown up in their face. Could they look to a coach with a defensive background this time? If so, the 41-year-old McDermott could be a sleeper choice. The Panthers have had a strong defense under McDermott, and, while he is not yet a household name, he could be a really talented option for the Dolphins and has been a defensive coordinator for five years.

John Pagano, defensive coordinator, San Diego Chargers

Maybe Chuck Pagano ends up back with the Colts, but his younger brother could be a consideration as well. John Pagano is another defensive option for the Dolphins in 2016. Pagano knows how to use the talent he has, and he knows how to put players in the right place to make plays. Fans outside of San Diego may not know the younger Pagano, but he is a coach who absolutely should be in demand this offseason.

Frank Reich, offensive coordinator, San Diego Chargers

Controlling the other side of the ball from Pagano is Reich, who should be among the top candidates for a head coaching position this year. He's a former quarterback, so he should be able to work with Ryan Tannehill, and he does a nice job working with receivers as well, having worked as both a quarterbacks coach and a receivers coach prior to being named an offensive coordinator. Reich's success with Phillip Rivers last year should put him in demand this offseason, plus it would be really funny to troll the Buffalo Bills with Reich in Miami.

Kacy Rodgers, defensive coordinator, New York Jets

He only has one year (really, four games) under his belt as a defensive coordinator, but there is no denying the Dolphins know Rodgers well. He was the team's defensive line coach from 2008 until he was hired by former Dolphins secondary coach/assistant head coach/interim head coach Todd Bowles this past offseason. He probably is not ready for the top position, but he could be a darkhorse candidate if Ross wants to find some level of consistency even as the whole coaching staff changes.

Greg Roman, offensive coordinator, Buffalo Bills

Roman directed Tyrod Taylor to a 41-14 destruction of the Dolphins. If that was not enough of a reason to get his name into consideration, the success he had with the San Francisco 49ers, not counting 2014, could. He is 42 right now, but has nearly 20 years of coaching experience already. If the Bills are able to keep themselves in AFC playoff contention, Roman could generate interest around the league. Plus, the incestuous nature of the AFC East does seem to make this move make some sense.

Rob Ryan, defensive coordinator, New Orleans Saints

Joe Philbin was a very neutral persona, rarely showing emotion and never appearing too high or too low in his reactions. If you are looking for his exact opposite, you want Rob Ryan.  Ryan would give the Dolphins a shot in the arm and fire up the team, and there is no denying that Ryan can design a defense. He has a close relationship with his brother Rex, and he has seen what worked and what didn't as a head coach. Can you imagine a Rex versus Rob home-and-home series every year as two division rivals face off?

Kyle Shanahan, offensive coordinator, Atlanta Falcons

Where the Mike Shanahan move discussed early might seem like a stretch for a coach who may have already seen his best coaching days, Kyle Shanahan is just coming into his own. As offensive coordinator with the Redskins, Shanahan worked for his dad. He interviewed for the offensive coordinator position with the Dolphins in 2014, but Miami chose Bill Lazor. Two years as the Falcons' offensive coordinator could push him into head coach consideration.

Mike Shula, offensive coordinator, Carolina Panthers

Stephen Ross said at the start of the coaching search that led to Philbin being hired that the team needs to find the next young Don Shula. They can at least get the name if they were to go get Mike Shula from the Panthers. He started his time with the Panthers as the quarterbacks coach, then was promoted to offensive coordinator when Chudzinski went to be the Cleveland Browns' head coach. Shula was the head coach at Alabama from 2003 to 2006, when he was ultimately replaced by Nick Saban, who was leaving the Dolphins. It would be a ton of pressure on Shula if he were to coach the team where his dad is a legend, but it would excite the fan base to have a Shula on the sidelines.

In School

Jim Harbaugh, head coach, Michigan

There is likely no chance this will happen, but Harbaugh's name will come up. Stephen Ross made the mistake of trying to interview Harbaugh for the head coaching position while Tony Sparano was still employed as the Dolphins' coach, and there was some speculation that Ross would fire Philbin in an effort to add Harbaugh as the team's head coach last year. Now, with Harbaugh in Michigan - the alma mater for Ross - it seems less likely that Ross would go get the coach that is working for his college team. Plus, Harbaugh seems to be happy back in college.

Gus Malzahn, head coach, Auburn

An offensive minded coach who knows how to put together a system that works for the talent the team has. He has had success at Auburn, leading the school to the 2014 BCS National Championship Game and was the AP Coach of the Year that year. He is, typically, a slightly run-heavy coach, which would be a switch from Joe Philbin, but he has enough creativity to not return to the failed ground-and-pound offense of Tony Sparano. Malzahn could be tempted to make the jump to the NFL, though he has spurned previous interest from teams, preferring to stay away from the "business" that is the NFL.

Brian Kelly, head coach, Notre Dame

Kelly has turned around Notre Dame, and he does run some read-option which could benefit Ryan Tannehill. Kelly would be intriguing, but he has previously been adamant that he is not interested in jumping to the NFL.

Jim Mora, head coach, UCLA

No. Please no.

He has the pedigree and name, and has been an NFL head coach, with three years as the top coach for the Atlanta Falcons and one season with the Seattle Seahawks. He constantly seems to have drama follow him, including the infamous "joking" about wanting the University of Washington head coaching job while in a playoff hunt as the Atlanta Falcons head coach. He has said he plans to stay at UCLA for the rest of his career, and has turned down Washington and Texas over the past few years, but he might be tempted to return to the NFL for one more shot at success.

Nick Saban, head coach, Alabama

Okay, there really is no chance of this happening, given the animosity toward Saban in South Florida after he bolted for Alabama, but there are rumors that he could be getting tired of Alabama and might be looking for another shot at the league. I don't think he really will make that move, given how miserable he was in his two seasons with Miami, but Saban's name is sure to float around during the offseason as a possibility for any NFL job available, even if it is just to get Alabama to pay him more.

David Shaw, head coach, Stanford

Shaw seems happy at Stanford, but would be a great potential NFL head coach, and one the Dolphins should consider trying to tempt into making the jump. He might not take any job in the league other than with the Colts, which would reunite him with Andrew Luck, but if Miami could sell him on Ryan Tannehill, there could be some temptation. It might take Stephen Ross putting some extra money into each check, but Shaw could be a coach worth overpaying to get.

Kevin Sumlin, head coach, Texas A&M

Sumlin has not shown interest in making the move to the NFL, but that does not stop his name from being circled each offseason as one of the top prospects. Could the Dolphins be the team to get Sumlin to leave College Station?