There is no denying that this has been a bad season for the Miami Dolphins. And, sadly, bad may be an understatement. A team that was expected to compete for the AFC Playoffs, and potentially challenge the New England Patriots for the AFC East division title, is currently two games under .500 and in last place in the division. Disappointing, frustrating, lackluster...there are a lot of other adjectives that could be placed before "season" when describing the 2015 year for the Dolphins thus far.
The Dolphins fired head coach Joe Philbin just four games into the year following the team's 1-3 start. Since then, interim head coach Dan Campbell has recorded a 4-4 record, bringing the team to a 5-7 record on the season. The team is, technically, still alive in the Playoff chase, though they are two games behind the final Wildcard spot and in need of a lot of help.
Campbell has made changes to the team, and, most of them, seem to be moving the team in the right direction. He has changed both coordinators, firing defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle just after Philbin was relieved of his duties and then following that last week with the firing of Bill Lazor. The team has more emotion and more aggression than they did under Philbin, though it does not always show up on Sundays. Lazor's pass-first, pass-only offense transitioned to a more balanced play-calling last week, with the run actually being called more than the pass. There are changes to the team, though making drastic changes to an offensive scheme this late in the season is nearly impossible, and Campbell cannot gut the entire coaching staff to build the team he may, ideally, want.
That is not to say there are not still issues with the team. The offensive line is still a problem. The linebackers, while improved, still leave something to be desired. Injuries have taken their toll, especially with the loss of Cameron Wake. Age may be starting to catch up to players like cornerback Brent Grimes. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill still does not seem to feel pressure in the pocket and has had accuracy issues throughout the year - though there is no deny the deep ball has gotten better this season.
There are a lot of things that need work for Miami, but there are also things that have gotten better since Campbell took over. The question becomes, is it enough? What does Campbell have to do to earn the head coaching position on a permanent basis?
He is 4-4 as a head coach, jumping from a tight ends coach to a head coach. He makes mistakes, being a rookie head coach, but he is also learning quickly and, with a coaching staff he fully builds - even if it is keeping some of the assistants he has now - he could position himself to become a really good coach. Miami could, however, decide they want a more experienced coach and go chase someone else. There is no sure answer to this problem, and there may not be a clear right or wrong choice. But, what do you think? What does Campbell have to do to keep the head coaching position?
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