First two impressions of the Dolphins this week becoming the season’s first NFL team to make a coaching change:
1. New interim guy Dan Campbell, erstwhile tight ends coach, could not be further apart visually and in conveyance of attitude from the suddenly sacked Joe Philbin. The verve-less Philbin resembled the farmer holding the pitchfork in Grant Wood’s 1930 painting American Gothic. Campbell looks like a fire-breathing ex-Marine who just roared out of an octagon.
2. This can’t work, can it? History says it won’t. If Campbell does what Miami promoted him to do — overcome a 1-3 start and guide Miami to the playoffs — he will have done what no man has.
In-season coaching changes either don’t work or have limited success, depending on how you define improvement. There is a large sample size.
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We researched all 72 previous in-season coaching changes since the 1970 merger. The coaches let go left with a combined record of 145-454-3, a .242 winning percentage. The coaches who replaced them finished the season 145-297-1, or .328. That is not an insignificant bump, but neither is it a collective dramatic turnaround.
Here’s the thing, though: Bottom line, replacement coaches are 0 for 72 in taking the loser they inherited and seeing it to the playoffs.
That is the history Campbell must buck.
But here is why he has a better chance than most. The average of those 72 in-season changes was made 8.4 games in, or just past midseason. Campbell has far more games than most to enact a turnaround. Only four of those 72 changes have been made sooner than four games in: the 1982 Seahawks made the change after two games, and the ’71 Eagles, ’74 Colts and 2000 Bengals did it after three games.
A fair chunk of interim coaches — 29 of 72, or 40.3 percent — are hired to return the next season, but few stay long. The most recent who has is Dallas’ Jason Garrett, an interim appointee in 2010 and still there.
▪ Our King Sport First Quarter Awards: MVP — Packers QB Aaron Rodgers; Offensive POY — Patriots QB Tom Brady; Defensive POY — Jets CB Darrelle Revis; Offensive rookie — Titans QB Marcus Mariota; Defensive rookie — Chiefs CB Marcus Peters; Coach of Year — Falcons’ Dan Quinn; Dolphins MVP — WR/returner Jarvis Landry. Brady is on early pace for 5,936 passing yards, which would easily be an NFL record.
▪ Hope for the mediocre! Since 1990, 37 percent of playoff teams started 2-2 or worse. Twenty-four 1-3s have made the playoffs, but the only 0-4 team to do it was San Diego in 1992.
▪ Detroit is the only winless team left, but based on point-differential, six teams are worse: Bears, Bucs, Dolphins (ouch), 49ers, Jaguars and Texans.
▪ League-wide passer rating entering Week 5 is 91.2. Season record, set last year, is 88.9.
▪ The NFL extended its commitment to the International Series through 2025 with plans to expand regular-season games beyond the United Kingdom. Next stop: Germany and Mexico.
▪ Panthers CB Josh Norman is first with two interception-return TDs in first four games since Charles Woodson did it in 2008.