Kevin Coyle will be back in Miami for the 2015 season.
As for Mike Wallace?
That remains undetermined.
On the day that the Miami Herald learned that Coyle will return for a fourth season as Dolphins defensive coordinator, owner Stephen Ross wouldn’t give Wallace that same vote of confidence.
“I don’t think anybody really knows that,” Ross said Friday. “They’re looking and assessing the team and seeing what we need to do to win next year, and that’s the most important thing. Next year, we need to win.”
Determining whether Wallace is part of that formula has to be among the highest priorities. Wallace has led the Dolphins in catches (140), receiving yards (1,852) and touchdowns (15) since signing a five-year, $60 million contract before the 2013 season.
But he has also made waves over his role, refusing to return to the game midway through the 2014 season finale, the Herald and other outlets reported at the time. Wallace later denied the reports, saying it was a coaching decision to keep him out of the second half of the Jets game.
Still, it’s impossible to deny that there is some sort of rift between Wallace and the coaching staff – and one that the organization might believe is too difficult to mend. If the Dolphins decide to cut Wallace, they’d presumably use the June 1 designation, spreading the cap hit over the next two years.
As for Coyle, he has no such worries. Dolphins coach Joe Philbin ultimately decided to keep him on board, despite his unit allowing 193 points in the season’s last six games (32.2 points per game). Coyle’s defense was one of the league’s best in the first half the season, but one of the worst in the second half.
Ross wasn’t asked directly about Coyle or the defense during his brief Q&A with reporters Friday, but did weigh in on the team overall.
“They were up and down,” he said of the 8-8 team. “We thought we were getting there and didn’t make it. I think there’s a lot of reason to be optimistic that we’re on our way, and I think you saw the development of Ryan [Tannehill] and a lot of the other players, and I think that bodes well. You see all of these teams making coaching changes, and then you see us, none of them have quarterbacks, or most of them don’t. I think that bodes well for the future, and we can really build something.”
Ross also insisted that despite the arrival of Mike Tannenbaum, Dennis Hickey remains the team’s general manager, both in name and action. Tannenbaum was hired as the team’s executive vice president of football operations earlier this month, but the 53-man roster still belongs to Hickey.
“I think if you look at organizations, and see their strengths and their weaknesses, and you bring people in to complement it, not supplement it,” Ross said. “I think we have an organization and a structure that will work with people that will complement each other and bring strengths to the organization that they wouldn’t otherwise have.
He added: “Football is a more complex game than it used to be, and looking for that competitive edge is a hard thing to find. Organizations take time to put together. They don’t happen overnight. When you really look at organizations, evaluate them, evaluate the people, you have to have them all working together and complementing each other. It’s not a question of power struggle. It’s a question of really making sure your I’s are dotted and your T’s are crossed.”
Miami Herald sportswriter Armando Salguero contributed to this report.