Friday, January 13, 2012

Jeff Fisher to Rams as Dolphins' search continues

Time for Plan B. After days of waiting, the biggest fish of the head-coaching pool—Jeff Fisherwill join the St. Louis Rams over the Miami Dolphins, according to various sources.

Some reports say the decision was the result of Dolphins' owner Stephen M. Ross refusing to give Fisher an equal say over personnel with general manager Jeff Ireland, but it's hard to know exactly how it all played out. A "Dolphins source" told CBS' Mike Freeman that Fisher "used us."

And so the Dolphins go back to the drawing board. One of their previous interviewees—Mike Mularkey—has already taken the head gig in Jacksonville, though he was never near the top of the Dolphins' wish list. Interim head coach Todd Bowles is still technically a candidate, albeit a very unlikely one.

The Miami Herald says Chicago Bears' special teams coordinator Dave Toub is being considered for a second interview, which could indicate that he's the new favorite. Albert Breer of NFL Network indicates Bengals' defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and my favorite candidate of the bunch, Fisher included) is now atop the wish list.

The team has also interviewed Green Bay Packers' offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, although it remains to be seen if he's even interested in a job change after the recent death of his son and he cannot be hired until the Packers' season ends.

And finally you have guys that have yet to be interviewed, such as Panthers' offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and Saints' offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, Jr. A report last week named Oregon head coach Chip Kelly as a candidate, but so far that has not come to fruition and the team seems to be more focused on NFL coordinators (with the exclusion of the Fisher pursuit).

Personally, I'm a bit relieved that Fisher chose the Rams. I'm eager to see Ireland get to pick his own man and get a longer shot at building the roster. While I've never been the biggest Ireland fan, I do believe he should be able to do his job as long as he's here and he's made some good decisions since taking over for Bill Parcells last season. (Reggie Bush, Kevin Burnett, and Mike Pouncey, to make a few.)

Zimmer is my favorite candidate thus far, as I like his familiarity with Ireland and some of the Dolphins' players from their time in Dallas and I've been impressed with how he's built up his defense in Cincinnati. He's had a nice string of success with the Bengals and even has 3-4 experience from working under Parcells, so my hope remains alive of avoiding a scheme change on defense.

One thing worth keeping an eye on after all this dust settles is the Dolphins' chances to trade up in the draft, potentially for Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. As some have pointed out, Fisher now has personnel power in St. Louis and the No. 2 overall pick, so negotiating a trade with Fisher to move up ahead of Cleveland and Washington could be a bit difficult—especially if we keep slinging mud.

The important thing for Dolphins fans to remember here is that "losing out" on Fisher is not the end of the world. Fisher had a long tenure in the NFL, a good reputation, and generally fielded competitive squads in Tennessee, but his overall success with the Oilers/Titans franchise was not all that great and he was far from the only quality option available to the Dolphins.

I also question whether or not giving him control over personnel would have been a good idea, so I'm perfectly content with Ireland keeping the reigns and bringing in a rookie head coach of his own. Bill Cowher was about the only potential coach I'd be happy having total control, but generally such an arrangement doesn't work out and the coach should focus on coaching.

Some may feel the Dolphins may have missed out in the most high-profile coach out there, but I wouldn't exactly say that Fisher "chose" the Rams. In reality, the Dolphins were unwilling to give Fisher all that he wanted and so he had to look elsewhere, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Perhaps Fisher saved the Dolphins from themselves. The world will keep spinning and the Dolphins will likely hire a younger coach from the NFL ranks, which isn't necessarily a bad thing at all.


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