UPDATED (4:50 p.m.): A bit of non-coaching news. The Dolphins announced Tuesday that they have signed six players to futures contracts: LB James Burgess, C Connor Hilland, S Chris Lammons, DT Jamiyus Pittman, LB Quentin Poling and DE Jeremiah Valoaga.
UPDATED (12:36 p.m.): The good people in the Dolphins’ communications department are kind enough to transcribe most every word uttered at a team podium, including when Darren Rizzi discussed the opportunities for special teams coaches to become head coaches, and if he would like to lead a team again. Here are the questions to and answers from Rizzi from back on Nov. 29:
(This is the time of year where they have coaching candidates come up. What is your thought on special teams coaches and their chances to become head coaches?) – “Obviously, you look at the history of the league and there hasn’t been a ton of guys that have gone from being a special teams coordinator to head coach. Obviously, the one that everybody talks about is John Harbaugh. When you really look at the job and the resume that he’s put together, he’s won a Super Bowl. It’s a difficult thing for a special teams coach. It takes a lot of faith in the front office and an owner because you’re stepping outside the box a little bit. My feeling on it is special teams coaches may be as well prepared as anybody to run a football team. You’re the only guy in the building that’s really dealing with the entire football team. You’re coaching everybody. You’re dealing with situations and game management, those types of things. I think there are a lot of qualified special teams coaches right now in the league that would be terrific head coaches. I think John Harbaugh is again a great example of a guy that did it and has done it and has put together a tremendous resume. He’s one of the best game managers in football. You look at the history of a lot of guys, a lot of the coaching history of some of the guys that are head coaches right now. A guy like Bill Belichick was a special teams coordinator, and I could sit here and list a bunch of different guys that have special teams coordinator on their resume. Again, it’s not the norm, if you will. There’s a lot of times where guys want to win the press conference and maybe get the sexiest name out there that is maybe a play caller or something like that. A lot of the times when you kind of dive into it, a special teams coach could be the best option. Obviously, I’m a little bit biased towards it. I believe that a lot of my counterparts in the league are very qualified to do it and would be terrific head coaches.”
(We’re sitting here in front of one special teams coach. Where do you feel like your readiness or desire to be a head coach is at this point?) – “I’ve been fortunate to be a head coach in college. That was a great experience. Certainly, if that opportunity presents itself down the road when the season’s over, those are always things you’re going to look at. Obviously, my biggest concern right now is Buffalo and finishing out this season strong, and then you worry about opportunities after the season. It’s something that as I look forward in my personal career, it’s something that I want to do again down the road, to be a head coach again. I had a great experience doing it. I loved doing it. I think with the role I have here on this football team is preparing me to be a head coach because I deal with the players every day. I deal with the game management part of the game. I’m very fortunate that (Head Coach) Adam (Gase) gives me that role. It’s really helping my personal resume in terms of learning on the job and dealing with the management, the game management, the time management. All of that stuff is really preparing me. I think when that opportunity presents itself, I’ll be very well prepared and be ready to go.”
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(If I might ask, did any colleges reach out to you in the past year about being a head coach?) – “I don’t want to go down that road. I’m going to pass on that one for right now. We can talk about that after the season, but I think right now during the season I’m just going to really concentrate on our schedule and on Buffalo. I appreciate the question, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t want to start throwing things out.”
(So, that’s a yes?) – “(laughter) I’m going to pass on the question.”
UPDATED (12:23 p.m.): Darren Rizzi said a few weeks back that he wants another chance to be a head coach someday. The assumption was that chance would come on the collegiate level.
Turns out, he might get his wish and not have to move.
Albert Breer reports that Rizzi, who has run Miami’s special teams for nearly a decade, will get an opportunity to interview for Adam Gase’s job.
Rizzi was a head coach at the University of New Haven for three seasons at the turn of the century and also coach Rhode Island in 2008.
UPDATED (11:36 a.m.): Our Barry Jackson reports that Adam Gase’s assistants still remain employed by the Dolphins, at least as of now. The plan is for the Dolphins to hire a head coach and let him decide who stays and who goes.
It will be very interesting to see what happens to special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi, who is held in high esteem both inside the organization and out. Rizzi has been with the Dolphins since 2010, surviving four coaching changes. If he does not get the top job, many in the building would hope he stays on when a new staff is named.
UPDATED (11:29 a.m.): The Dolphins will need to wait until Monday to talk to Vic Fangio. The Bears’ defensive coordinator is busy preparing for Chicago’s Wild Card playoff game against the Eagles, but NFL Network reports that Fangio will meet with the Dolphins and Broncos on Monday.
Fangio, 60, has never been a head coach but has running NFL defenses for some two decades, with great success. The Bears led the league in scoring defense (17.7 points er game) and ranked third in yards allowed (299.7) in 2018.
UPDATED (11:12 a.m.): The Adam Gase road show will apparently begin in Arizona.
ESPN reported that Gase will interview with the Cardinals on Wednesday, his first of what is expected to be several meetings with teams in need of a head coach.
The news comes some 24 hours after the Dolphins fired Gase following three seasons.
Expect NFL news to pour in over the next few days, with names, dates and times of Dolphins coaching candidates to filter out from news outlets near and far.
So here’s your New Year’s Day one-stop-shop.
What we know so far:
The Dolphins have identified at least five potential replacements to Adam Gase: Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio; Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Cowboys defensive backs coach Kris Richard.
Richard might be the least-known name of the list, but the 39-year-old comes with a significant endorsement: star cornerback Richard Sherman, who played for Richard in Seattle for the better part of a decade. Richard was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator from 2015-2017.