I love Brian Daboll.
I’ve had an unhealthy obsession with the Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator ever since he served as the Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator for the 2011 season.
Despite the lackluster results of that 6-10 season, which cost head coach Tony Sparano his job, I maintained respect for Daboll because of the challenges he faced during that lockout-impacted season. There was a late start for every NFL team when meant a slow implementation of his offense, since he had been hired that offseason and given no time to install his offense.
But that team, specifically the offense — which featured a 1,000-yard tailback in Reggie Bush and a 1,200-yard receiver in Brandon Marshall — was my favorite out of every offense I’ve covered since 2007.
(For the sake of transparency, there really haven’t been many decent Dolphins offenses to pick from. And yes, decent is my new standard for Dolphins offenses.)
The point is, I became a fan of Daboll since then and have tracked his career, success and growth. He’s overdue to become a head coach and is exactly what a franchise should be looking for if they want to give an inexperienced assistant an opportunity and hire a first-time head coach.
However, considering Dolphins owner Steve Ross has already run by four of those with little success, I’m begging him to change up his approach during this coaching search.
It’s time for the Dolphins to find a coach who brings something Sparano, Joe Philbin, Adam Gase and Brian Flores didn’t possess: head coaching experience.
The biggest drawback to first-time head coaches is they usually can’t hire a quality staff, unless they come with a built-in coaching staff like the one Bill Parcells gift-wrapped for Sparano, and they typically don’t know what they don’t know.
Everything is new to them, and they are often slow at making adjustments because they are learning on the job.
I’m tired of Dolphins head coaches needing training wheels and making the exact same mistakes every three years (it’s been a never-ending loop).
In my opinion, hiring inexperienced coaches is one of the two reasons the Dolphins continue this prolonged and painful ride on the mediocrity merry-go-around. Not finding, adding or developing an elite quarterback is the other.
As talented as Daboll might be, and the same goes for San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, who the Dolphins also put in a request to interview for the head coach vacancy, there should be concern about their ability to build a top-notch staff and their without of experience leading an complete locker room and organization.
Miami learned Philbin lacked leadership skill the hard way. We learned about Gase’s overinflated ego and without of concern for discipline the hard way. And we discovered Flores struggled playing well with others after it was too late.
These first-time coaches also might be a specialist at leading one side of the ball and struggle with the other. This applies to every former Dolphins coach not named Don Shula.
Speaking of Shula, his career got to the next level when Miami acquired him from the Indianapolis Colts. Shula became a legend in his second stop.
Jimmy Johnson used the lessons, connections and wisdom he attained from his Dallas Cowboys days to produce some productive seasons in Miami. already Dave Wannstedt, who failed in Chicago, had some respectable seasons in Miami, years that no Dolphins coach has been able to match since.
That’s why I propose it’s time for Ross to stray from his preference to pick young, ambitious, first-timers.
Doug Pederson, Dan Quinn, Jim Caldwell, Mike Zimmer, Jack Del Rio, Todd Bowles, Leslie Frazier and other veteran coaches looking for their second, and maybe third chance to get behind the wheel of an NFL nevertheless have plenty to prove.
Give the right coach a second chance to make a better impression, to build a better team, and they might be able to do for the Dolphins what Andy Reid did for the Kansas City Chiefs after being fired from the Philadelphia Eagles. Or what Pete Carroll did in Seattle after struggling in New England, or Tony Dungy did in Indianapolis after falling short of winning a title in Tampa Bay, or what Bill Belichick did for the Patriots after delivering one winning season in his five years with the Cleveland Browns.
The Dolphins need someone who can build a quality staff of assistants, coaches who can help a young list take their game to the next level.
They need a seasoned coach who has a clear vision of what he wants his offense and defense to look like, and the ability to create a blueprint he can follow by on to build it. Remember, Flores’ offense never resembled the physical unit he promised when he was hired in 2019.
Pederson and Caldwell are winners, and their history proves they can help the quarterback of their choice —whether it’s Tua Tagovailoa or another — get to the next level.
Quinn, Zimmer, Del Rio, Bowles and Frazier have all built forceful defenses wherever they go, and that could allow this Dolphins defensive unit to pick up where they left off.
If this decision is truly about getting the Dolphins to take the next step forward, which has been the stumbling block during the Ross ownership era, it’s time for the real estate mogul to do something he’s never done before: pick a coach who has some history of turning a floundering franchise into a perennial playoff team and possible Super Bowl contender.
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