Mike Tannenbaum on Monday promised “a long, honest, sober view” of what needs to be fixed in a broken Dolphins organization.
Perhaps a two-time Super Bowl champion will have the answers.
The Dolphins on Tuesday will formally interview former Raiders, Broncos and Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan for their coaching vacancy.
But Shanahan won’t be the first to discuss the opening with Dolphins brass.
Mike Smith, the ex-Falcons coach, beat him to the punch. The Dolphins on Monday sat down with Smith, who led Atlanta to the NFC title game in 2012.
The meeting came the same day the Dolphins officially named Chris Grier their new general manager. Grier has spent 16 years with the Dolphins, the last nine as director of college scouting.
Smith, 56, went 66-46 in seven seasons with the Falcons, reaching the playoffs four times.
Tannenbaum, meanwhile, confirmed a Miami Herald report that the 63-year-old Shanahan is a candidate. But the Dolphins’ football czar disputed an ESPN story that they interviewed Shanahan for the opening during the season. That was an informational meeting, Tannenbaum clarified Monday.
Shanahan and Smith are among the first to get a meeting with Tannenbaum, Grier, owner Stephen Ross, team CEO Tom Garfinkel and vice chairman Matt Higgins. But they won’t be the last.
Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin will also interview. Bears play-caller Adam Gase will soon do the same — assuming someone else doesn’t hire him first.
Furthermore, ESPN reported Monday that the organization has also requested interviews with two Patriots coordinators — Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia — and Bills assistant head coach Anthony Lynn.
Plus former Bills coach Doug Marrone is also on Miami’s radar. Furthermore the organization has requested permission to speak to Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, according to NFL.com
Then there’s Dan Campbell, who has earned an interview after impressing the organization as the team’s interim coach the season’s final 12 games. Tannenbaum said the job Campbell did under trying circumstances was “nothing short of remarkable.”
Yet it’s hard to see how Campbell will be Miami’s first choice, given the breadth and depth of the available pool of coaches.
And although some in the building believe this process will actually be a relatively quick one, Tannenbaum seems determined to interview as many people as he can.
“Being involved with a few other searches in my career, you just go through it, you want to remain flexible,” he said. “Our search has started in earnest and will go and obviously we’d like that decision done certainly sooner than later.”
The organization has researched what kind of person makes a successful head coach — from their college degree to professional résumé.
And, as Tannenbaum made clear, prior head-coaching experience is not a prerequisite.
“We want to get the best coach and we’re not going to narrow it to any sort of background, being a first-time coach or not,” Tannenbaum said. “I know there’s one theory out there, like some of the recent Super Bowl winners, Pete Carroll, Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin, all did it on their second hire. But we just want to get the best head coach regardless of their background.”
I got two kids and the Miami Dolphins. That’s all I’ve got. I’m a real simple person. We’re either going to win or I’m going to die trying.
Furthermore, he insisted that the team is not married to a pre-conceived pecking order, but instead will let the process determine the best candidate.
This is the third time Tannenbaum has been through this. He became Jets general manager the same year New York hired Eric Mangini, then later picked Rex Ryan to succeed Mangini.
But even he seemed to acknowledge that he might not get a fourth chance if he doesn’t get this one right.
When asked how much pressure he feels, Tannenbaum responded:
“I feel it every day. I gave up everything to come down here. I’ve been to three championship games. It’s really not about me but I came down here to win a championship. I’ve accomplished everything in my career except to get a ring. So I got two kids and the Miami Dolphins. That’s all I’ve got. I’m a real simple person. We’re either going to win or I’m going to die trying.”
The truth is, however, the Dolphins are far closer to being the worst team in the league than the best.
When asked how much of that failure should fall on him, Tannenbaum responded:
“Part of it, without question. I had as high hopes as coach [Joe] Philbin or Dennis Hickey or anybody else. I’m as disappointed as anybody. ... We fell short. I was part of falling short.”