Armando Salguero

Miami Dolphins mystery candidate: Think Big Easy

Miami Dolphins’ owner, Stephen Ross, discusses the firing of Head Coach Adam Gase

Miami Dolphins' owner, Stephen Ross, discusses the firing of Head Coach Adam Gase during a press conference at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, FL.
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Miami Dolphins' owner, Stephen Ross, discusses the firing of Head Coach Adam Gase during a press conference at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, FL.

And we have a mystery candidate.

The Miami Dolphins have been smart in that they’re interviewing coaches from “hot” teams. Hence their interviews of Brian Flores, from the New England Patriots and Eric Bieniemy, from the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs and Patriots are pretty good, the Miami Herald has learned.

And following their trips to New England and Kansas City, the Dolphins contingent that includes owner Stephen Ross and football King Chris Grier are expected to head to New Orleans over the weekend.

And they will interview defensive coordinator Dennis Allen on Saturday. The Dolphins asked for and received permission to speak with Allen late this week so he was a late add to the interview schedule, per a source.

The Saints are also pretty good and have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs in the NFC. The Saints were 13-3 this season.

Interestingly, the New Orleans staff includes former Dolphins tight ends coach and 2015 interim coach Dan Campbell. And you’ll recall owner Stephen Ross saying he loved Campbell, who interviewed for the job in 2016 that went to Adam Gase.

But that love has apparently waned because the Dolphins are not expected to speak with Campbell.

And this: Campbell, highly respected and already scheduled for three head coach interviews, was not interested in Miami, according to a league source

Anyway, here’s information on Allen from the New Orleans Saints media guide:

Allen enters his third full season as the team’s defensive coordinator in his eighth campaign with the club after he was rehired by Saints head coach Sean Payton in 2015. Allen’s resume includes 22 years of coaching experience, including the last 16 in the NFL.

Allen was the head coach of the Oakland Raiders from 2012 to 2014. He was obviously not prepared for the job to which he was hired at age 39. Allen was 8-28 as the Raiders coach. He is 46 years old now.

The Saints defense this year was 14th in the NFL in points allowed, giving up 22.1 points per game.

In 2017, Allen led a Saints defense that finished third in the league in interceptions (20), tied for seventh in sacks (42) and ranked tenth in opponent points per game (20.4 ppg.) after ranking 31st in 2016. Away from home, New Orleans surrendered only 18.3 points per game, tied for sixth in the NFL, with their 146 road points given up tied for the fifth-lowest total by the club since the start of a 16-game schedule in 1978. Allen oversaw a defense that featured first-team All-Pro DE Cameron Jordan who posted a career-high 13.5 sacks and rookie CB Marshon Lattimore, who led NFL rookies with five interceptions and garnered Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, as both defenders earned Pro Bowl trips. Rookie S Marcus Williams, the club’s second round draft pick, joined Lattimore as a PFWA All-Rookie selection, tying for second among league rookies with four picks.

In 2016, a young New Orleans Saints defensive unit took several strides in the right direction, surrendering only 90.6 rushing yards per game, ranked sixth in the NFL over the final 13 weeks of the season. In fact, New Orleans allowed under 100 yards rushing in eight games on the season, the fewest in a single season since they gave up seven in 2013. Under the tutelage of Allen, several players enjoyed productive seasons. Jordan led the team with 7.5 sacks. LB Craig Robertson started all 15 games he appeared in and filled up the stat sheet with a team-high and career-high 131 tackles, one sack, one interception, five passes defensed and two fumble recoveries, staying on the field for nearly every defensive snap. Missing the first seven games of his rookie season due to a leg injury, 2016 first-round draft pick DT Sheldon Rankins posted 26 tackles (17 solo), four sacks and one forced fumble over nine games played.

After starting the 2015 season as the club’s senior defensive assistant, Allen assumed coordinator duties in Week 11. As New Orleans rallied to win three of their final four contests, Allen’s unit contributed to finishing strong as the defense surrendered 34.3 total net yards per game below the overall season average, including 24.3 fewer yards per game in stopping the run. New Orleans also held opponents to a season-low 17 points in two of the final four contests. Jordan was selected to his second Pro Bowl.

Allen served as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders from 2012-14. In his second season, he guided a team that made significant improvement in several areas. Offensively, the Raiders ranked 12th in the NFL in rushing, improving 16 spots in league rankings from 2012 and sixth in yards per rush (4.6), improving 21 places in league rankings despite starting an NFL-high eight offensive line combinations due to injury. The defense replaced nine starters, yet improved in several categories.

The defense recorded 38 sacks, 13 more than 2012, and tied for second in the NFL with 15 different players getting to the quarterback. The rush defense improved five spots from 18th in the NFL in 2012 to 13th in 2013, as they limited opposing offenses to just five runs of 20-or-more yards, tied for the fewest in the league, and kept opponents to less than two yards per carry three times. On special teams, the Raiders moved from the NFL’s bottom-third to first overall in opponent gross punting (41.7), ranked third in opponent net punting (37.0) and fourth in opponent kickoff returns (20.4).

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Armando Salguero has covered the Miami Dolphins and the NFL since 1990, so longer than many players on the current roster have been alive and since many coaches on the team were in middle school. He was a 2016 APSE Top 3 columnist nationwide. He is one of 48 Pro Football Hall of Fame voters. He is an Associated Press All-Pro and awards voter. He’s covered Dolphins games in London, Berlin, Mexico City and Tokyo. He has covered 25 Super Bowls, the NBA Finals, and the Olympics.