On Wednesday, the Miami Dolphins stole the show ahead of the AFC Championship game by parting ways with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Both sides agreed to go in different directions after the franchise allowed 23 points per game in 2023.
Miami enters the offseason roughly $45 million over the salary cap, and virtually half the roster is set to reach free agency — making a switch at defensive coordinator is less than ideal one year after Fangio signed on to Mike McDaniel’s coaching staff.
Signing a new defensive coordinator is now on Miami’s offseason to-do list — where to begin?
Anthony Campanile was hired by Brian Flores to be the team’s linebackers coach in 2020 and held the job through McDaniel’s time as coach. He spent the 2019 season as the linebackers coach at Michigan.
Considering Miami’s salary cap limitations, Campanile, 41, makes plenty of sense from a continuity standpoint. He knows the talent he’s working with and would allow Miami’s front office to quickly turn their attention to cleaning up the roster.
Don “Wink” Martindale
Part of the reason McDaniel wanted to bring in Fangio is because of his 33 seasons of coaching experience. Wink Martindale entered the NFL as linebackers coach for the Oakland Raiders in 2004 and most recently, he spent the last two seasons as defensive coordinator of the New York Giants.
The Giants had the 18th-ranked defense in 2022 but tumbled to 27th last season, leading to the two sides parting ways. Martindale’s pressure-happy mindset would make sense for a defense that will need to generate pressure while edge-rushers Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips work back from season-ending injuries.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport noted that Brandon Staley is a candidate for the job. Dianna Russini, Senior NFL Insider for The Athletic, added that McDaniel and Staley have the same agent.
Staley was head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers from 2021-23. He was let go following a 5-9 start and a 63-21 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders last season. The Chargers allowed an average of 24.5 points per game throughout those three seasons — and would rank 29th of 32 teams in 2023.
That’s not great, but before his time with the Chargers, Staley, 41, was hired to replace Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams in 2020. The defense was first in points and total yards allowed that season — and he got the best out of Jalen Ramsey.
Staley’s recent track record isn’t promising, but he fits plenty of the boxes Miami is looking for. He worked with Fangio while with the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos — so he knows the system. On top of that, he’d fit the “collaborative approach” McDaniel is looking for, according to The MMQB Senior NFL Reporter Albert Breer.