Monday, January 16, 2012

Dolphins interview Broncos' OC Mike McCoy for head-coaching vacancy

With four more teams out of the NFL Playoffs following the weekend, the Miami Dolphins have begun pursuing an entirely new group of head-coaching candidates, starting with Denver Broncos' offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

McCoy becomes the seventh candidate interviewed by the Dolphins and the sixth officially announced by the team. Still under consideration are: Dolphins' interim head coach Todd Bowles, Bears' special teams coordinator Dave Toub, Packers' offensive coordinator Joe Phibin, and Bengals' defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

Candidates Jeff Fisher and Mike Mularkey have already taken other NFL head coaching positions in St. Louis and Jacksonville, respectively. Fisher, who previously coached the Titans/Oilers for 17 years and was widely-regarded as the most high-profile candidate available, was reportedly torn between the Dolphins and Rams over the past few weeks before choosing St. Louis last Friday.

A quarterback at the University of Utah, McCoy initially joined the Broncos as an undrafted free agent in 1995. He then spent time on the Packers' practice squad, followed by stints in NFL Europe and the Canadian Football League before retiring in 1999.

From 2000 to 2008, McCoy worked for the Carolina Panthers under various titles, including offensive assistant (2000, 2002-03), wide receivers coach (2001), quarterbacks coach/offensive assistant (2004-05), quarterbacks coach (2006), and passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2007-08). The Panthers earned their first NFC title in 2003 before losing to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

McCoy moved into an offensive coordinator role under Josh McDaniels with the Broncos in 2009 and also coached the team's quarterbacks during his first season in Denver. He spent his third season as the Broncos' offensive coordinator in 2011 working under John Fox, who was the Panthers' head coach from 2002 to 2008.

The Broncos fell to the New England Patriots 45-10 in the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs on Saturday, but McCoy is largely credited with altering the Broncos' offense on the fly this season to fit the skills (or lack thereof) of Broncos' quarterback Tim Tebow. As Ben Volin points out, McCoy has a history of getting good production from non-elite quarterbacks.

McCoy also has a handful of connections to the Dolphins' organization, though fans might not like all of them. He worked with former Dolphins' offensive coordinator Dan Henning in Carolina from 2002 to 2006 and was on the Broncos' staff with current Dolphins' defensive coordinator Mike Nolan in 2009. McCoy also tutored quarterback Matt Moore for two seasons with the Panthers and worked with Brandon Marshall in a 2009 Pro Bowl season in Denver.

After interviewing with the Dolphins on Monday, McCoy is expected to head to Oakland to interview for the same position with the Raiders. Meanwhile, the Dolphins may next look to Saints' offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, Jr. who also saw his team get eliminated from the playoffs this past weekend but is highly-regarded in league circles.

Mike Zimmer remains my top choice for the Dolphins' job, though I do hope the team gets in on Carmichael this week as well. I'd also be happy with Joe Philbin or current Panthers' offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, who is not yet known to be on Miami's radar.

I would hope fans that were distraught over the Dolphins not landing Jeff Fisher have calmed down lately, especially since he made a pretty underwhelming hire at offensive coordinator in Brian Schottenheimer. There are still plenty of quality coordinator candidates—McCoy included—and the Dolphins may just make a good hire yet.

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