Jeff Ireland's Acorn Coaching Strategy

The whole process of selecting a coach in Miami breaks down once Jeff Fisher is out of the mix…

What’s the big deal with being honest about the role of Carl Peterson? Who really cares if he’s Ross’ buddy, or a consultant, who cares? The only reason it comes under scrutiny is the secrecy surrounding it turning the coaching search into a three stooges sideshow. Is Ross going to make the decision, is Peterson leading the interview process, what exactly is Ireland’s role? Larry is bouncing off Curly, who is running into Moe (feel free to substitute names).

The Miami coaching search has taken on the feel of standing under the old oak tree waiting for an acorn to drop. It has the reeking stench of Jeff Ireland taking the scattergun approach to searching for a coach. Do the Dolphins want to become offensive, defensive or special team oriented? Does anyone at Dolphin central have any idea what they want in a coach and if so, it certainly is not coming off that way.

The front office brings in:

Dave Toub, a special teams coach from the Bears – with Devin Hester they better be special.

Joe Philbin, OC from Green Bay – Mike McCarthy calls the plays.

Mike Mularkey, OC from Atlanta – an offense that has under-performed and wasted a franchise level QB.

Mike Zimmer, DC from Cincinnati – Ireland’s buddy whose defense was run over by the Texans.

It’s like a dog chasing its tail in circles trying to figure out why it can never catch that annoying itchy thing.

Three straight years, Matty Ice has taken Atlanta to the playoffs and three straight years the Falcons have been unceremoniously bounced back to reality. The Miami brain trust is widely criticized for drafting Jake Long over Matt Ryan and leaving the Dolphins without a franchise QB. Ryan has not proved to be elite as many had touted. The reason Ryan’s career hasn’t taken off is due to poor coaching. The Falcon offense is a slow moving, uncreative mix of power running and 5 yard passes that has underwhelmed and led to playoff failure. Mularkey held the same offensive coordinator position in Miami during the Saban era and not much has changed. On paper and during the regular season, the offense looks good and the Falcons win enough to get in the playoffs, but once they encounter a playoff defense, the offense collapses like a house of cards.

Here’s an offense that drafted Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White, acquired Tony Gonzales and Michael Turner in free agency and comes off the tracks in every playoff game. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where the disconnect is, it’s coaching! Miami is considering a man for head-coach, who should be fired at his present position. This opens the Dolphin decision makers up for some serious questions.

Who is Dave Toub? The Bears special teams are perennially ranked in the top of the league but might that have something to do with Devin Hester. Hester has returned 12 punts and 5 kickoffs for touchdowns in his career, maybe it’s like Bill Belichick becoming a genius after Tom Brady fell in his lap. John Harbaugh has done great since being hired in Baltimore and he was a special teams coach. The Ravens haven’t won a Super Bowl with Harbaugh and he took over a team that had already won one before he got there. Toub may be a great coach but there are not going to be many fans driving from Palm Beach on the hope that he is.

Joe Philbin may be a good coach as well but his title of offensive coordinator is mostly superficial with Mike McCarthy calling the plays in Green Bay. His work with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers is a feather in his cap and cannot be ignored, but the job seems larger than Philbin. Again, there is the acorn feeling like the name was pulled out of 13kvFINS’ backside. He’s sure to light a fire under Dolphin fans everywhere. Philbin could be one of the better candidates, but there had better be some very strong conviction if he comes to Miami or Jeff Ireland will be following him out the door on the Miami coaching carousel.

Mike Zimmer is riding on the Ireland to Dallas short-bus as the defensive coordinator there during Ireland’s time. Zimmer has had some quality defenses but the Dallas connection will send Miami Dolphin fans into a frenzy of negativity. Another acorn littering the ground hoping the squirrels don’t find him before his roots take hold. Can Zimmer put together a coaching staff to lead Matt Moore and the Miami offense to the next step? It is difficult to predict how a coach like Zimmer will perform at the next level. His relationship with Ireland gives him an advantage over the others listed here but is that really an advantage in Miami’s coaching search?

The days after Don Shula when coaches like Jimmy Johnson, Nick Saban and Bill Parcells coveted the position are waning fast. The Dolphins have lost their luster and the fans have become bitter in the remembrance of yore that has not visited here since the Orange Bowl was demolished. Only a fresh young face with the vision of a modern offense and a relentless defense can flush the memories of Shula and Marino, and ignite the city of Miami.

Where are those hungry young men like Jay Gruden on this list? Even Brian Daboll would be a better option than Mike Mularkey, Joe Philbin or Mike Zimmer. It comes back down to the acorns and Jeff Ireland being more worried about his comfort level and position of power than bringing in strong candidates. Ross placed all his eggs in the Jeff Fisher basket and allowed Ireland to go off in his own direction. Should that basket come up empty, Larry, Curly and Moe will be left bonking each other on head as the search continues.

The acorn approach didn’t work well with players and it will work even less with coaches. Ross said he wanted to get back to the days when Marino was flinging the rock and football was exciting in Miami. These candidates do not inspire because there is no plan of attack. If the Dolphins want to be high flying, make a plan. If the Dolphins want to be a defensive monster, make a plan. Scratching around looking for acorns will only lead to another 4 years of frustration. Look for a leader of men, if he scares you with the force of his passion, if he commands respect by his presence, if he stares you down and brings fear, he’s the guy.

Leave the acorns for the squirrels...