Looking at Potential NFL Coordinators to Coach The Dolphins

The Coach’s series continues, The Coordinators…

The sheer number of NFL assistant coaches makes any analysis an exhausting proposition and one the Miami Dolphins should not take lightly. Narrowing the search to several highly qualified candidates presents some very interesting choices but in no way should these be thought of as the only and perhaps even the top names. Of the names mentioned on Dolphinshout.com, these coaches stood out for head coaching positions, if not in Miami than certain by other NFL teams.

The Dolphins have clearly had trouble fielding an offense and the next coach must change the offensive dynamic. With the Dolphins’ season spiraling out of control, a rookie QB is certain to join the next coach in Miami. With this in mind, the next coach should one who has worked with QBs and has had success mentoring them at the next level. With the exception of one, the names chosen here reflect that critical need.

Without further adieu, the coordinators…

Rob Ryan is the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys. He is the son of famed defensive coordinator and head coach Buddy Ryan and the twin brother of current New York Jets head coach, Rex Ryan. After minor coaching stops through the ranks of college football, Ryan was hire by Oklahoma State as defensive coordinator in 1997. In 2000, Bill Belichick gave him his first pro coaching job as linebacker coach for the Patriots. In 2004, Ryan landed his first defensive coordinator job with the Oakland Raiders. In 2009, he was hire as Cleveland Browns’ defensive coordinator and in 2011; he took the same job with the Dallas Cowboys.

Ryan comes from a prodigious family tree but his defenses have never lived been up to the standards set by his father and his brother. Buddy Ryan coached the famous Bears defenses of the 80’s and is known for perfecting the 46 defense. His brother coached the great Ravens defenses. In 8 years as a defensive coordinator, Ryan’s highest ranking in points allowed is 13th. His average ranking over those 8 years is 22nd. He is currently ranked 18th with the Cowboys.

Ryan’s flowing gray locks, his boisterous on the field manner, along with his pedigree give him a persona that seems to resonate with fans around the league. It is hard to place Ryan in the head-coaching job for the Miami Dolphins. He seems more hype and circumstance than a great coach, but there is no magic formula except the record of a coach in his previous positions. With an average ranking of 22nd in 8 years Ryan has not established himself as an elite coordinator. Miami would be taking quiet a chance if they were to hire Ryan, at one point, he may get a chance, but the situation in Miami would not be a good place to start.

Bruce Arians
is the offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Kansas City Chiefs hired him in 1988 as a running backs coach after 6 seasons as the head coach at Temple University. In 1993, he took over as offensive coordinator at Mississippi State for 3 seasons, and then moved on to the Saints for one season as the tight ends coach. He then spent one year as OC at Alabama.

His big break in the NFL came as the quarterbacks’ coach of the Indianapolis Colts in 1998. He was responsible for mentoring Peyton Manning in Manning’s first two NFL seasons. His success with Manning led to the offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns in 2001. During his stint with Kansas City, he worked with Bill Cowher. He reunited with Cowher in 2004 when Cowher hired him as the wide receivers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2007, Cowher promoted him to the offensive coordinator job of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Arians is now responsible for coaching two of the best QBs currently playing in the NFL, Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. Arians will get an opportunity as a NFL head coach, soon. He’s been a head coach in college and coordinator in the NFL. He has two Super Bowl rings with the Steelers. Having worked under a great leader in Bill Cowher, he was actually running backs coach for Paul Bear Bryant at Alabama prior to coaching at Temple. Arians knows how to win and that could place him on the Dolphins radar. The only draw back with Arians may be is age, at 59 his coaching days could be winding down.

Bill O'Brien's first coaching position was at Brown, where he coached tight ends in 1993 then inside linebackers in 1994. He would then spend the next eight seasons at Georgia Tech. First as an offensive graduate assistant, then running back coach, all the way to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2001 and was named an assistant head coach for the 2002 season. Not offered the head-coaching job, he left Georgia Tech in 2003 to coach running backs at the University of Maryland. In 2005, he accepted the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coaching position at Duke University.

O'Brien was hired as an offensive assistant in 2007 by the New England Patriots after two seasons with Duke. In 2008, Belichick promoted him to wide receivers coach. With the departure of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel, he became the team's quarterback coach and offensive play-caller following the 2008 season, then offensive coordinator this season. O’Brien has been on a fast track in his coaching career raising first though the ranks at Georgia Tech and now through the New England Patriots.

At 42 years of age, O’Brien will be the next head coach to spring from the well of Belichick. He is a relentless worker who is responsible for developing the two tight end offense the Patriots have grown into the past two seasons. Having worked with Tom Brady he has seen first hand what makes a great NFL QB. O’Brien is another coach who should be on the short list for the Dolphins; his familiarity with the Patriots is a definite plus. The knock on O’Brien is he does not have any head-coaching experience at any level.

Pete Carmichael Jr. is in his sixth season with New Orleans Saints. Serving as QB coach his first 3 seasons, he is now in his third season as the Saints’ offensive coordinator. The Saints offense has ranked first in the NFL in yardage in three of the last five seasons and that traces back to Carmichael’s work with Drew Brees. Carmichael called every play in a 62 - 7 domination of the Colts, a game that saw Brees to throw five touchdowns, and included nearly 240 rushing yards.

Carmichael is somewhat of an honorary offensive coordinator as head coach Sean Payton has called the offensive plays since arriving at New Orleans in 2006. After five years in the college ranks, Carmichael’s NFL career began with the Cleveland Browns in 2000 as an offensive assistant and tight ends coach. In 2001, he moved on the Washington Redskins as a quality control coach and then spent 2002-03 with the San Diego Chargers as an offensive assistant quality control coach, before a promotion to wide receivers coach in 2004 and 2005.

At 40 years old, Carmichael is a rising star in the NFL coaching fraternity. Drew Brees came of age under his tutelage and his close work with Sean Patton has created one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. He is not widely known outside New Orleans, but he is no secret in the NFL and his next move could be head coach, though offensive coordinator, play caller is more likely. He is worth keeping an eye on in Miami because he is a young, up and coming coach with a bright future.

Joe Philbin is the current offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers. He joined the Packers as an offensive line coach in 2003 after numerous college stops and is in his fifth season as offensive coordinator. He is somewhat Jimmy Johnson like with B.A. in sociology and a master's of education in administration and supervision.

He has coached both Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers and his offense has ranked in the top 10 in total yards and total points. Along with the Patriots, Green Bay is one of only two teams in the league to accomplish that feat during his four years. Green Bay’s point total is fourth in the league over that span, trailing only New England, San Diego and New Orleans. Green Bay has reached the playoffs in three of Philbin’s four seasons.

Like Bill O’Brien, Philbin has adapted his offense to use multiple TEs in wide formations. His use of zone blocking has created an offensive line that is nimble and can protect Rodgers as he moves in the pocket. Philbin once quipped, "football's a pretty simple game, learn how to work with the guy next to you. I don't see that being a big issue." Philbin is 50 years old and has 6 children, though highly qualified for the next step he may not be a good fit for the Dolphins. He is a consummate family man and the glamour of Miami may not be a good fit for his family coming from the small town of Green Bay Wisconsin.

Next Installment, College Coaches...