The Miami Dolphins fired Mike Sherman on Monday — a decision that, while expected, was surely painful for Joe Philbin.
And word is, there’s more pain to come for the Dolphins’ head coach, with additional changes to his coaching staff expected.
Sherman, the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator the past two years, was both Philbin’s high school English teacher and assistant football coach at Worcester (Mass.) Academy.
On Monday, Philbin had to tell his mentor he no longer had a job.
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The firing comes after a week of speculation, during which both owner Stephen Ross and players privately expressed dissatisfaction with the team’s play-calling.
“I would like to thank Mike for his contributions to the Miami Dolphins,” Philbin said in a statement. “Mike has been a mentor to me throughout my coaching career, dating back to 1979. He is a man of great integrity, dedicated to his family, his team, his players and his profession. On behalf of the entire Miami Dolphins organization I want to wish Mike and his family the very best in the future.”
The Dolphins’ search for Sherman's replacement will presumably begin immediately. The leading candidate is Ben McAdoo, the Packers’ quarterbacks coach who worked with Philbin in Green Bay, according to a league source.
McAdoo, 36, coached the Packers’ tight ends for six seasons before moving to the quarterbacks room in 2012. Philbin wanted to interview McAdoo when he first got the Dolphins job two years ago, but the Packers denied permission. That shouldn’t be a consideration this time around, as McAdoo’s contract is up, and the Packers’ season is over.
Whoever is hired will become the Dolphins’ fourth offensive coordinator since 2010.
The move also ends Sherman’s six-year partnership with Ryan Tannehill, whom he also coached at Texas A&M. Tannehill showed improvement in his second pro season, but struggled in the final two games — both Dolphins losses that cost the team a spot in the playoffs. Miami finished the year in the bottom third of the league in both total offense (312.9 yards) and points (19.8).
NFL.com reported last week that Tannehill had lost confidence in Sherman late in the 2013 season, but the pupil had nothing but praise for his longtime teacher Monday.
“Coach Sherman and I have a great relationship,” Tannehill said in a statement. “He has made significant contributions to the Dolphin organization, and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to play for him for the last six years.”
Tannehill continued: “I learned so much about football and life in that time, and for that I am forever grateful. I will always respect Coach Sherman both as a coach and more importantly for the kind of man he is. I wish him and his family the best in whatever God has in store for him next.”
Sherman’s firing appears to be just the start of the shake-up. Philbin will return for a third season in Miami, but other assistants such as offensive line coach Jim Turner — whose group allowed a team-record 58 sacks — are also believed at risk.
Then there’s the matter of general manager Jeff Ireland, who hasn’t put together a winning team in the past five seasons.
Sherman, the former Packers head coach whose career began in 1978, simply couldn’t produce enough points — particularly in the final two weeks of the season. A win over either the Jets or Bills would have put the Dolphins in the playoffs; they scored just seven total points in those two games, losing each.
That was enough for both Ross and some in the Dolphins’ locker room to decide they had seen enough. On Monday, Philbin came around to their point of view.