Now that the Miami Dolphins’ search for a head coach is underway and they have so far interviewed a first-year offensive coordinator who doesn’t call plays, a first-year defensive coordinator who has not yet earned that title from the organization that knows him best, and a former Oakland Raiders head coach who was 8-28 in a little over three seasons before being fired, you might be getting the idea owner Stephen Ross is not exactly aiming high here.
You might be getting that #TankforTua, which some have rolled out on social media (Mando raises hand in guilt) in fun, could actually be a plan.
Because the chances the Dolphins hire a coach that comes with more credibility and accomplishments than their last coach are not looking good.
So, you might be hoping, Ross has a grand surprise in the offing. You might be praying that these guys he’s interviewed so far are just a prelude to getting his guy in a week or two.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
And you might be thinking maybe, just maybe, that guy’s name is Harbaugh.
Jim or John.
Either one would do.
Because either one is way more accomplished than what Ross is entertaining so far.
Except that scenario becoming reality is hard to fathom at this stage. That scenario feels like a fried pork chop fantasy for someone on a strict low fat diet.
And these are the reasons:
As recently as Thursday an NFL signature landing spot for news, ProFootballTalk.com, speculated there was a “good chance” the Dolphins had reached out to the Baltimore Ravens through back channels and intermediaries to see about John Harbaugh’s availability.
The item cited a “league source” as believing a call from Miami to Baltimore would, in fact, happen if the asking price for Harbaugh isn’t too much.
And maybe it’s me as a mere (Tony Montana voice) political refugee to this great nation (end Tony Montana voice) that I don’t understand these super undercover and sophisticated strategies.
Or maybe it’s their sheer nonsensical nature.
(Yeah, it’s the latter.)
Friends, this simply doesn’t meet the sniff test as an actual destination for this Dolphins coaching search.
If you think John Harbaugh could possibly wind up with the Dolphins, please answer these questions:
1. He’s in the playoffs, he’s won a Super Bowl, he’s really, really good at what he does. Why would the Baltimore Ravens want to move on from him?
The Ravens have said they want to sign him to a contract extension beyond the one that ties him to the organization for 2019. So that sounds like the opposite of Harbaugh leaving Baltimore.
But maybe that relationship has grown stale and each side would like to look around regardless of public statements. That’s possible. To which the Ravens would then have a chance to hire unproven offensive coordinators who have never called plays or unproven defensive coordinators who have not yet earned the title.
The Ravens boast a smart, thoughtful organization. Does getting rid of a good coach to hire an unknown sound like something that organization would do?
Well, maybe the Ravens are worried Harbaugh would like to move on to greener pastures after 2019 so they’d be willing to trade him now to get something for him before he bolts.
And you’re thinking Miami would be the place?
The idea of a trade to Miami would have to include Harbaugh’s agreement. And that leads me to my second question:
2. Why would Harbaugh want to come to Miami?
The coach obviously has ties to Ross because of his brother. He understands in general what working for Ross is about because his brother basically works for Ross at Michigan.
But everyone must know John Harbaugh wants to win.
And the Dolphins are in rebuild and refurbish mode. So how is this a fit?
Yes, the Ravens could trade Harbaugh to the Dolphins. That is true. But nothing states Harbaugh would have to agree to come. He could sit out a year and still be paid. He could wait until 2020 when his Baltimore contract expires and then he could go to the team of his choosing.
And he would likely choose a team with a better quarterback situation than the uncertain one in Miami.
He would likely want to go to a team not aiming for a Top 5 draft pick in the following draft.
He would definitely want to go to a team that has its full complement of draft picks -- something the Dolphins wouldn’t have if they have to give up a first-round pick and possibly more for John Harbaugh.
So, you see, Harbaugh could do way better for himself than Miami.
It would be against his own interest to strip his new team of one or perhaps multiple first-round picks. It would be against his interest to go into a total rebuild situation. It would be against his interest to go to a team that has at best a marginal quarterback -- because he’s seen what having a quarterback playing to that level means.
It means no playoffs for years until you replace him with Lamar Jackson.
My third reason why the Harbaughs don’t make sense in Miami is based on what Ross has said.
He has said he’s not hiring Jim Harbaugh for the Dolphins.
He has said the Dolphins are going to rebuild, which could be a long process.
“When we win on a sustainable basis – I can’t tell you which year that is going to be – but we’re going to do what it takes to build the organization piece by piece, so that we have the right players that will be here to build that winning tradition, or bring it back,” Ross said.
“I would hope I don’t have to go 3-13; but whatever it’s going to take, we’re going to build that organization with the right players that want to win. They’re coming here to win.”
I have lately been disappointed in a lot of things Ross has done. But he has always been a man of his word. I don’t think he lies as policy.
So I think that after considering the state of his team and deciding to go the long route of rebuilding, Ross wouldn’t suddenly slam the brakes and pull a U-turn to get back in win-now mode.
He’d look like a fool.
And, yet, that’s exactly what he’d have to do lure one of the Harbaughs.
One final thought:
Ross is like a man with two kids. One is named Michigan football. The other is named the Miami Dolphins.
And he loves both his kids. He’s committed to both.
But he’s had maize and blue in his veins for over half a century. And the Dolphins don’t wear those colors, if you get my meaning.
If you shot Ross with truth serum and forced him to say which he loves more, my guess is he’d break into a The Victors chorus. In fact, that’s the ring tone on his cell phone. I’ve heard it.
So the only way he’d take Jim Harbaugh away from his most loved is if the coach was planning to go elsewhere anyway. And there are no such plans underway at Michigan at this hour.
So a Harbaugh coaching the Miami Dolphins in 2019?
Lots of obstacles separate reality from that dream.