Today, some teams are pondering the playoffs and some their layoffs. And the Dolphins are in the latter category for the seventh consecutive season as they begin their search for a new coach and his staff.
But there is some clarity and hope amid the uncertainty and gloom this team and its fans might feel the day after another disappointing season.
If the first day is going to be the measure of how this offseason is going to go, things might just work out. The team has tapped longtime personnel man Chris Grier as its next general manager, and he will be introduced as soon as Monday once his contract details are finalized.
“We’re finalizing something,” owner Stephen Ross said Sunday, confirming a Miami Herald report that Grier was Miami’s GM choice. “I think very highly of Chris Grier. But we haven’t finalized anything at this point.”
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It will get done. The sides have come too far to let lawyers get in the way. And once the deal is signed, the Dolphins will have a talent guy with 21 years of NFL experience who comes with the stamp of approval from multiple general managers — Carolina’s Dave Gettleman, New York’s Jerry Reese among them — and a Hall of Famer.
“He’s been around personnel his whole life,” Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells said from his home Sunday afternoon as he watched the regular season’s last games. “He was still a very young man at New England when I was there and his father [Bobby Grier] was there.
“He basically grew up in the system I did. The same people that taught me, the next generation taught him. Chris has a good background, and if the coach tells him what kind of player he needs, he’ll find them.”
Before Grier gets to that, he’s going to help find that coach because he will immediately join the group of men that will be conducting Miami’s coaching search.
Those men are Ross, vice chairman Matt Higgins, executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum and club president and CEO Tom Garfinkel. Ross will be the final authority on this search because, well, he owns significant parts of the Earth.
Executive vice president Dawn Aponte and Ross confidant Carl Peterson — who figured prominently in previous Miami searches — will not have say over this one.
Indeed, this one is Tannenbaum’s baby because he will run point on the search as he did the general manager search — which I believe he already got right.
The Dolphins intend to get off to a fast start with their coach search. One league source asked, “Where’s the fire?” But the team believes identifying coaches early gives them a chance to hire someone who, in turn, can hire the best available assistants because those guys normally get plucked up quickly.
The Dolphins have promised to take this search far and wide. They have promised to leave no possibility unexplored.
That’s why they’re casting a wide net on coaching possibilities, from former Super Bowl coaches such as Mike Shanahan to first-time head-coach candidates suich as Chicago offensive coordinator Adam Gase and Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.
(By the way, I eliminated Shanahan in a column I wrote last week. That was a mistake. Keep him in mind because the Dolphins are.)
The Dolphins are going to interview men that have jobs. And they are going to interview men who have been out of work. The Dolphins might also interview a current college coach.
Have I covered all the bases? Because the Dolphins tell me they are going to certainly do that.
And this is what I have to say to them:
Your next head coach should check boxes you’ve failed to check recently. He should have experience because the last time the team hired a coach with NFL head-coach experience was 2000. And the ensuing learn-on-the-job guys have been a disaster.
Your next coach also better be able to fix quarterback Ryan Tannehill because you saw on Sunday what the team can be when Tannehill is right. Tannehill threw for 350 yards and two touchdowns in Miami’s 20-10 victory over playoff-bound New England.
But that kind of performance from Tannehill has been too infrequent. So find a coach that can milk more of those rare days out of the most important player on the field.
It should be noted the Dolphins are not without talent. They are simply without direction. Tannenbaum is hoping to fix that, but he cannot do it alone.
Yes, he can be the genius in the background pulling strings, but he needs a face of the franchise to set the agenda and the course.
“Someone who can be motivational,” Ross said in describing what he wants in the next coach. “Someone who can inspire the players and get the best out of them. Someone very intelligent. Somebody who can change the culture here, who you can be sure when you walk in this locker room, you intend on winning the football game.”
We will see how that plays out. Ross has good intentions, but his results so far have been unsatisfactory. The Dolphins have never been to the playoffs with him as the majority owner.
So he needs to get this hire right after blowing the Joe Philbin choice during his last search.
“I told the players I’m committed to winning the Super Bowl, that’s why I own the team,” Ross said. “You look at the organization today, in every aspect except on the playing field, it’s one of the top and best organizations. … My commitment is really to take us to winning the Super Bowl.”
Get the coach search right. Then we’ll talk.