The Miami Dolphins currently have vacancies for an offensive coordinator and GM after the men who previously held said titles, Mike Sherman and Jeff Ireland, were let go earlier this week. Filling both openings with the right hire will be key if the Dolphins hope to be more successful in 2014.
While the list of candidates owner Stephen Ross is said to be considering to replace Ireland has predominately been comprised of speculation, the list of potential successors to Sherman looks to be more concrete. So, which nominee is the best fit to call plays for Miami’s offense next season?
Unlike evaluating players to fill areas of need, assessing assistant coaches is far less black and white. There are no statistics that can be directly attributed to a coach like with players, as the success or failure of entire units is affecting by a copious amount of variables. Also, it’s nearly impossible to judge how much of an influence position coaches have on the product they are being propelled by.
That said, the best fit for Miami’s opening can still be conjectured by taking an analytical approach to breaking down the team’s hopefuls. So far, it has been reported that the Dolphins have interest in Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo, former Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak, Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor and former Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
Who of the four should be the primary target? Well, it depends on what the Dolphins’ mindset is. Said thinking may not be the right thinking as it often hasn’t been with this franchise, but it will likely determine who is chosen, assuming of course all parties would accept the position — which is no guarantee given murmurs of dysfunction within the organization.
If the Dolphins are approaching the situation conservatively in order to virtually assure that Ryan Tannehill and company will be better equipped for improvement in 2014, one candidate stands above the rest. Kubiak is the most seasoned of the group. In 11 years as offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos, Kubiak was a catalyst of two Super Bowl titles, which eventually led to his hiring as head coach of the Texans in 2006.
Like Sherman, Kubiak employs a west coast, zone-blocking scheme, only with more complexity — so no drastic adjustments would be required. Hiring Kubiak would be a safe move by the Dolphins, but “safe” wouldn’t necessarily limit the potential dividends.
However, if the Dolphins are willing to swing for the fences with this hire, an up-and-comer like Lazor might be the most enticing choice. Lazor spent the 2013 season as the Eagles’ quarterback coach. While it’s unclear how much of an influence he had on Nick Foles‘ rise to prominence, the young quarterback had a breakout season on his watch.
The Eagles, under head coach Chip Kelly, also won the NFC East title with 10 wins and finished second in the NFL in total offense. Lazor might not deserve credit for any of that, but he at least witnessed it all behind the scenes. He observed the inner workings of Kelly’s innovative system on a daily basis and should, at the very least, be able to carry remnants of it elsewhere.
For an offense that was oftentimes bland and predictable in 2013, Lazor could be just what it needs, especially considering that Tannehill has the athleticism to thrive with a heavy influx of spread concepts.
If the Dolphins are set on mirroring Joe Philbin‘s philosophy as closely as possible, hiring Green Bay’s McAdoo might be the route to take. McAdoo has served as the Packers’ quarterback coach over the past two years after previously coaching tight ends on Philbin’s unit. The success of Aaron Rodgers, who is one of the league’s truly elite passers, is a big reason why McAdoo is being regarded as an ascending prospect.
However, Rodgers would flourish under any coach. There’s no way of knowing if McAdoo is really a brilliant offensive mind.
It’s difficult to determine who the best fit is without knowing the Dolphins’ vision offensively, and other potential suitors could be thrown into the mix. Regardless, the two candidates who would likely generate the most excitement are Kubiak and Lazor. Will the Dolphins play it safe or roll the dice?
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.