The Miami Dolphins are on to their fifth day of the 2016 version of their head coaching search. With the Thursday completion of an interview with Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase, the team has now completed meetings with five candidates. They have three more interviews scheduled over the next three days, brining the total number of known candidates considered to eight.
Thursday's meeting with Gase was the longest interview the team has held thus far. There was pre-interview speculation that the Dolphins would try to lock up Gase, who is considered the top coordinator candidate in the NFL this offseason, during the interview, preventing him from visiting other teams, including a rumored second interview with the Philadelphia Eagles. The speculation about offering Gase the head coaching position did not make sense, given the team still had scheduled interviews for after Gase, including one with interim head coach Dan Campbell, an interview owner Stephen Ross and Executive Vice President for Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum had both said needed to happen.
The interview with Campbell will happen on Friday, as well as an interview with Jacksonville Jaguars assistant head coach Doug Marrone. The team will then interview Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson on Sunday.
Campbell's interview will be an interesting one, as he looks to prove to the team executives that he can move the team forward after this dismal year and that he can put together a coaching staff. Campbell was promoted to the team's interim head coach position from his role as the team's tight ends coach.
Marrone spent the last year as the assistant coach for the Jaguars after two seasons as the head coach of the Buffalo Bills. He finished the 2014 season with a winning record at 9-7 after a 6-10 2013 season, but then utilized an opt-out clause in his contract to try to get more money from the Bills. When that did not work, Marrone simply left the team, which still had to pay him his entire 2015 salary.
The Dolphins have completed interviews with former head coaches Mike Smith and Mike Shanahan, Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, and Buffalo Bills assistant head coach Anthony Lynn, along with Gase. They have also requested interviews with New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia as well as Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, though nothing has been scheduled.
The Koetter interview request may have had a dramatic impact within the Buccaneers organization, as the team suddenly fired head coach Lovie Smith on Wednesday night. Speculation is that the Buccaneers were worried that they could lose Koetter, and would rather elevate him into the head coaching position to prevent that from happening.
Which brings up the question of whether or not the Dolphins should take a look at Lovie Smith as a potential candidate. He only went 8-24 in his two seasons with the Buccaneers, but was 81-63 with the Chicago Bears, including a Super Bowl appearance. Smith is a defensive minded head coach, which could improve a Miami defense that had been expected to be elite last season, but struggled throughout much of the year. Smith would need to find a strong offensive coordinator to work with quarterback Ryan Tannehill and get the offense fixed, however. He has experience as a head coach, and would bring credibility to the position.
The Dolphins' coaching search has not yet included any known college coaches, either known to have been contacted or interviewed. Miami could be trying to keep those contacts from leaking, in order to prevent any recruiting issues for a coach who does not get the job. Or, the team could just not be looking at college coaches.
Whomever the Dolphins eventually hire will become the 12th head coach in team history (or Campbell will remain the 11th). For the first 30 years of the franchise, the team had two coaches, George Wilson from 1966 to 1969 and Don Shula from 1970 to 1995. After that, Jimmy Johnson held the position from 1996 to 1999, Dave Wannstedt from 2000 to 2004, Jim Bates took over in the 23004 season as an interim head coach, Nick Saban from 2005 to 2006, Cam Cameron in 2007, Tony Sparano from 2008 to 2011, with Todd Bowles taking over as an interim head coach at the end of the 2011 season, Joe Philbin from 2012 to 2015, and Campbell the last 12 games of the 2015 season.