Happy New Year! Time to symbolically turn the page and look ahead, a particular imperative for your Dolphins after yet another depressing season. Can’t put this team’s 2015 in the rear-view mirror fast enough.
So let’s play Name the Next Coach.
I first floated the idea of Sean Payton-to-Miami on Oct. 22, ahead of the curve, assuming the still-likely possibility Payton and the Saints would part ways. He continues, as a Super Bowl-winning coach, to be the should-be favorite for Miami, but there are two complications.
One is compensation. The other is Mike Tannenbaum.
Compensation is an issue that can be overcome. Just be prepared to give up a first-round draft pick. I believe I would. Tannebaum is a higher hurdle to jump. Payton reportedly would want the kind of control over personnel that Tannebaum currently has. I doubt Miami wants another organizational restructuring, so Payton might find better options (i.e. more power) elsewhere.
That means the Dolphins better have other options, too.
Forget the Jon Gruden/Bill Cowher axis. You’re as likely to haul Jimmy Johnson in off his fishing boat.
I’d forget coordinators lacking head-coach experience, too. Sorry, Adam Gase and Mike Shula. Miami needs to stop gambling on head coaches with training wheels.
Miami needs a proven, experienced winner.
Nick Saban The Sequel? Let’s stick with reality.
I’d very strongly consider Chip Kelly. I’d even give a look at Jim Mora.
If I were Stephen Ross I might even make another run at Jim Harbaugh. Hey, Steve’s a Michigan guy. Just give the school a $10 million sorry-I-stole-your-coach donation.
The added complication with any hire is that if the new man is good enough, he will have other options likely offering a better roster than Miami’s, and maybe a better QB than Ryan Tannehill.
The new coach needs to believe he can elevate Tannehill to the next level.
I think Payton could. Kelly, too. That makes those two the place where Miami’s next-coach search should logically begin.
▪ The playoff picture, quickly: AFC — Patriots, Bengals, Broncos and Chiefs are in. Jets and Texans control their fate and are in with a win. Steelers need a win and help. Colts need a win and a miracle. NFC — Panthers, Cardinals, Redskins, Packers, Vikings and Seahawks are in; no openings left. Only seeding remains to be determined.
▪ If Texans or Jets make playoffs, likely, this will be 26th season in a row at least four teams are in the postseason that were not the season before.
▪ Cardinals and Patriots are now Super Bowl co-favorites at 7-2 odds, via Bovada, followed by Panthers at 5-1 and Seahawks at 15-2.
▪ The 795 TD passes entering Week 17 are most ever by 27. Nine QBs have topped 30, tied for most in a season, with Lions’ Matthew Stafford and Jets’ Ryan Fitzpatrick both at 29.
▪ Chiefs are second team in NFL history with a nine-game winning streak and five-game losing streak in same season. The other: 1986 Jets.