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Bill Parcells Coaching Tree Key to Miami Dolphins Search

With the Miami Dolphins hoping to hire a new head coach in a matter of weeks rather than months, will the guy under the spotlight be a Bill Parcells disciple?

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

It all seemed a bit hapless watching Mike Tannenbaum, Joe Philbin and Dennis Hickey making the decisions at Davie, in what appeared to be a round table scenario. It was an unusual marriage where none saw eye to eye. Philbin reportedly disagreed with Hickey and the front office over player selections, while Hickey himself sat in an office in the Dolphins training facility almost at polar ends to Tannenbaum, the latter of which always professed decisions were made in collaboration.

All that has now changed.

Joe Philbin was fired after the game in London, while Dennis Hickey was the next to go on Tannenbaum's hit list. In came Chris Grier, who has spent the last 16 years at Miami's scouting department, a vast proportion of that spent under the tuteledge of Bill Parcells.

Hickey loyalists, including assistant General Manager Eric Stokes, may be the next to go as the team gears up for a purge of the front office in attempt to rid the franchise of last remnants of the past.

Of course, this is by no accident. Mike Tannenbaum, himself a protégé of Bill Parcells having worked under him at the New York Jets, will more than likely surround himself with individuals heralding from the Parcells coaching tree. Indeed, Parcells himself still remains an influential figure at the ball club. Tannenbaum craves familiarity, he craves familiar faces. He will endeavour to install his close allies, people he can trust, in positions of power.

Sure, Miami have made it known they will leave no stone left unturned in their quest for a new head coach. This includes coaches that do not have links to the Bill Parcells tree, including Buffalo assistant head coach Anthony Lyn (who reportedly interviewed on Wednesday), Chicago offensive coordinator Adam Gase (scheduled for Thursday) and Mike Shanahan, Mike Smith and Teryl Austin (all of which have already been interviewed by the team).

Each have their own merits. Mike Smith went 66-46 in seven seasons with the Falcons, before his ageing team caused the franchise to implode. Teryl Austin used to coach Ndamukong Suh. Adam Gase is a quarterback guru. Anthony Lynn has Super Bowl rings as a player and is a hugely respected coach. And finally, but certainly not least, there is Mike Shanahan, a back-to-back Super Bowl winner as head coach in 1998 and 1999, but hasn't exactly replicated those achievements since the retirement of John Elway.

Yet, are they truly realistic candidates? Will Tannenbaum feel comfortable hiring a head coaching fossil more adept at managing in the 90s and the turn of the century, rather than the present, who will undoubtedly want more control over the team than Tannebaum is willing to give?  Will he go for a coach with no head coaching experience whom he is not familiar with? True, he did hire first-time head coaches Rex Ryan and Eric Mangini at the New York Jets, but he knew them, and knew them well.

Perhaps then, the mere mention of the above candidates are a sign that Miami is embarking on a course of due diligence. However, due diligence and actually hiring someone are two very different things.

For instance, take Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. Author of emotional and enviable locker room speeches, a coach who players can relate to and a born leader. While not emanating from the Bill Parcells tree, Tannenbaum was actually Jackson's agent after his sacking as the New York Jets' General Manager. According to the NFL Network, he could interview with the Dolphins and other teams from Sunday, according to Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post.

The rest, all hail from the same tree.

Doug Marrone used to be the Jets offensive line coach under Parcells and, in fact, briefly played for the Dolphins in 1987. Some may not feel comfortable with the fact he took the unusual step to walk away from his head coaching position at the Bills due to their change in ownership, but many commentators profess Marrone to be the real deal. He went 9-7 in 2014 at Buffalo, the Bills' first winning season in 10 years. Apparently he is meticulous, detailed and tough, all key head coaching attributes.

How about Todd Haley?  He worked with Bill Parcells twice, first with the New York Jets in the scouting department (1995-1996) and as wide receivers/assistant coach (1997-2000), and second with Dallas as the wide receivers coach (2004-2006). The Dolphins also reportedly have interest in him, but cannot interview until next week because Pittsburgh are still in the playoffs. He transformed the Steelers' offense with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm, and many feel the Dolphins could do with some of that for Tannehill. His 19-26 record in Kansas may not get fans excited, but can he turn it around second time? Bill Belichick sure did at the Patriots, after his nightmare spell in Cleveland.

Sean Payton also has connections with Tannenbaum and is perhaps the prize of the head coaching carousel. He had tremendous success with Drew Brees and even has a Super Bowl ring. He worked with Parcells for three seasons as offensive coordinator before becoming head coach in New Orleans.

Ironically, current interim head coach Dan Campbell, who earned a tough-guy reputation as a player, played for Bill Parcells in Dallas, where Sean Payton was offensive coordinator and ended his playing career under Payton in New Orleans. Don't discount him remaining with the team in some capacity, especially as offensive coordinator or assistant head coach.

The list goes on....

Does anyone remember Tom Coughlin? Hugely successful, he's just left New York and was actually mentored by Bill Parcells as wide receivers coach at the Giants.

Other names of interest, who won't necessarily become the head coach but may join the team in some capacity are Eric Mangini and Jim Schwartz. Schwartz, who rejected the chance to become Miami's defensive coordinator this past October, may be tempted a second-time round with the right head coach in place. He has connections to Bill Belichick, himself a graduate of Bill Parcells' head coaching factory. Meanwhile Eric Mangini, who worked with Bill Parcells at the Jets and was on Belichick's coaching staff for three Super Bowl wins in New England, was hired by Tannenbaum as head coach of the Jets. He could also be a candidate for the defensive coordinator position.

Time to take a deep breath....

Yet this much is clear. Tannenbaum will go with familiarity. He will go for someone he can trust and someone he knows what they will bring to the table at this franchise. Why bring in a stranger when he can solidify his position at the franchise by hiring his friends? He's done it before, and he'll do it again. All my chips are on the table - Mike Tannenbaum will hire a Bill Parcells disciple.

Alex Parish is an Associate Editor at The Phinsider. Be sure to follow me on Twitter@AlexParish89.