Miami Dolphin Coaching Search Begins

This is the first in a series, finding a coach in Miami…

Albert Einstein once said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” It doesn’t take a genius to figure out, hiring a retread coach is not going to work. Jimmy Johnson, Dave Wannestedt and Bill Parcells should be history enough to eliminate the retreads. However, Miami has also learned the hard way; inexperienced coordinators such as Cam Cameron and Tony Sparano are not the answer and Nick Saban’s midnight run out of town should leave a bad taste for high profile college coaches.

It’s been 15 years since Wayne Huizenga and the media horde forced Don Shula to step down in 1995. The Dolphins have gone through 6 coaches, including interim coach Jim Bates since Shula and none has duplicated Shula’s success. The lesson they all have failed to learn from Shula is that winning in the NFL comes from the QB position. The last 1st round QB drafted in Miami was Dan Marino in 1983.

Since then the Dolphins have used the 1st round to draft running backs, John Avery (1998) and Ronnie Brown (2005), they gave up two first rounder picks for Ricky Williams (2002). They’ve drafted defensive backs, Jamar Fletcher (2001), Jason Allen (2006) and Vontae Davis (2009). They’ve drafted offensive tackles, Vernon Carey (2004) and Jake Long (2008). They’ve drafted wide receiver, Ted Ginn Jr. (2007) and defensive end Jared Odrick (2010).

For 27 years, the Dolphins have failed to address the most important position in the NFL, QB. Jimmy Johnson had some success with Marino, but since Huizenga and Dave Wannestedt forced Marino into retirement after a 62–7 defeat to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2000, Miami has made a steady progression to the cellar of the NFL.

Many pundits will argue that the coach is the most important person in the organization. Six consecutive losers solidify the notion, the QB, not the coach determines winners from losers. When a team goes 27 years without selecting a QB in the 1st round, it only serves to reason that team will not be playing in January. The same media horde that ran Johnson, Wannestedt, Bates, Saban, Cameron and now Sparano out of town is missing the root of the problem. Not drafting a QB is the real reason for Miami’s demise.

If Steven Ross is going to change the trend, he must understand why the previous coaches have been unsuccessful. Probably the two smartest guys in Miami since Shula were Nick Saban and Bill Parcells. Both of these men ran for the door when they realized Daunte Culpepper and Chad Henne respectively were not going to be the player they needed to build a winning team. Ross has to understand, the QB will bring Miami back to prominence and a good coach is along for the ride.

The term “franchise QB” came into being for a reason, that player is what makes a franchise. Teams like Tampa or Baltimore have won a Superbowl without a franchise QB but the overwhelming reality is, continuous success in the NFL comes from the QB position. Dredging up examples where this has not held true is argument for argument’s sake. Steven Ross must understand this and realize a coach can only be as good as the player he has under center.

This thought process would give Ross a very clear direction when he goes about selecting a coach. When hashing around names like Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher or Jeff Fisher it would be very important to understand whether these coaches have an eye for QBs. Taking the time to research their history would give Ross an indication of what to expect if he were to chose one of them. The first on the list, Jon Gruden…

Jon Gruden likens himself as a QB guru, but his history is less than stellar. In Oakland, Gruden signed free agent Rich Gannon in 1999 and the two began a run of three straight playoff seasons. Gruden was “traded” to the Bucs in 2002 for Tampa Bay's 2002 and 2003 first-round draft picks, 2002 and 2004 second-round draft picks, and $8 million in cash. Gruden ended up beating his former team in Superbowl 37 with a team largely made up of players drafted by Tony Dungy and renowned Tampa personnel director Rich McKay. Dungy and McKay signed QB, Brad Johnson as a FA in 2001.

The Bucs released Johnson a couple years later and Gruden floundered with such QBs as Shaun King, Chris Simms, Brian Griese and Bruce Gradkowski. Gruden never selected a 1st round QB and that was partly due to the price Tampa had to pay to lure him away from Oakland. Gurden could not get along with Rich McKay who was responsible for drafting such players as Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Warrick Dunn and John Lynch among many others.

Gruden forced McKay to leave the Bucs and brought in Bruce Allen who had worked with him in Oakland. Allen, like his father George Allen, built a reputation of resurrecting the careers of aging veterans. It is hard to say what Gruden would do in Miami with the opportunity to draft Andrew Luck but his draft history with Allen in Tampa is not flattering. Like the Dolphins, he passed on Aaron Rodgers in 2005 and selected running back Cadillac Williams. The truth is, in the 1st round from 2005 through 2008, only Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler have been consistent starters.

Gruden is an excellent coach, but he has been out of the league for several years and his success, as broadcaster will leave an easy out if things get rough. Having never drafted a QB in the first round, a preference for older players and a history of poor drafting are indications he would not be a very good fit for the Miami Dolphins. History is not on his side as well, as no coach has ever won a Superbowl with two different teams.

The next installment, Bill Cowher…