With the reality setting in that Miami actually fired Brian Flores on Monday and the reports of interview requests starting to get sent out, it’s time to move on from the shock and evaluate who might be the next head man in South Florida. 

Instead of ranking each candidate, this article will provide Dolphins’ with a smorgasbord of options with potential pros and cons for each candidate. 

The reality of the situation is, accurately judging head coaching hires from the outside is almost impossible. People lamented the Rams for hiring Sean McVay, and he’s one of the best coaches in the NFL. Others praised the internal promotion of Freddie Kitchens, and he was a disaster. 

This article should serve more as a primer and a “get to know you” for Dolphins fans. It will be broken up into two categories—coaches with an offensive background and coaches with a defensive background. 

Let’s start with some offensive-minded head coaches. 

Doug Pederson 

Last Job: Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach 

Coaching Tree: Andy Reid 

Age: 53

Career Record: 42-37

Interview Request: No 

Pros: Pederson brings an impressive pedigree as an experienced head coach with a Super Bowl win on his resume. Pederson comes from the Andy Reid coaching tree and has extensive experience as an offensive play-caller and offensive mind. His system involves a lot of west coast concepts with a heavy screen element, which should mesh well with Tua Tagovailoa’s skillset. He’s also known as a player’s coach and someone who is good at relationship building something Brian Flores, reportedly, struggled with. 

Cons: Pederson’s tenure in Philadelphia ended pretty ugly. He butted heads with owner Jeffery Lawrie, general manager Howie Roseman, and quarterback Carson Wentz consistently. It’s also fair to ask how much of the Eagles’ success during their Super Bowl run should be attributed to Pederson instead of then offensive coordinator Frank Reich. 

Conclusion: Pederson is towards the top of my list thanks to his prior head coaching experience, the historical success of the Andy Reid coaching tree, and his player-focused coaching style. However, there are legitimate questions about his ability to hire staff consistently and how much credit for the Eagles’ success he deserves. 

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Jim Harbaugh

Last Job: Current Michigan Head Coach 

Coaching Tree: Bill Callahan 

Age: 58

Career Record: 44-19-1

Interview Request: No 

Pros: Harbaugh is another offensive mind with prior head coaching experience and success at the NFL level. Harbaugh helped develop the likes of quarterbacks Andrew Luck, Colin Kapernick, and Alex Smith. Harbaugh led the 49ers to a Super Bowl before losing to his brother. There is a clear connection between Harbaugh and Dolphins owner Steven Ross since they are both Michigan graduates. All of those things check some pretty important boxes. 

Cons: There are two major cons with Harbaugh. One, he hasn’t coached in the NFL since 2014 and has always had a label of not winning big games, which has mostly stuck, even now. Two, he’s currently employed at Michigan and all initial reporting indicates Miami will not pursue him. 

Conclusion: After feeling like a leading candidate, Harbaugh feels more like a long shot at this point. His winning pedigree and “multiple” offensive system would be welcomed in Miami, but it seems far more likely he’ll remain at Michigan. 

Brain Daboll

Last Job: Current Buffalo Bills Offensive Coordinator  

Coaching Tree: Bill Belicheck

Age: 46 

Career Record: None 

Interview Request: Yes 

Pros: Daboll is the first candidate on this list for who Miami has actually requested an interview. Daboll’s strengths are centered around how he’s helped develop Josh Allen and molded Buffalo’s unique offense around his strengths. Daboll is also an experienced play-caller despite not having any head coaching experience. He’s also one of the few offensive minds off the Belicheck coaching tree meaning he can make full use of all the defensive minds to help fill out his staff. He also spent time at Alabama coaching Tagovailoa and spoken highly of the Dolphins’ quarterback in the past. 

Cons: Daboll has some of the same concerns I had with Pederson. How much of Buffalo’s success on offense is because of him? Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs are elite physical talents, and Daboll’s track record prior to their arrival is not good, including a stint as Miami’s offensive coordinator in 2011. 

Conclusion: Despite not having head coaching experience, Daboll has been around the block quite a bit. He’s got experience working with a lot of good staffs giving him a wide hiring pool and has a direct connection to Miami’s current quarterback. Again, it is fair to question how much of Buffalo’s recent success he’s truly responsible for. 

Kellen Moore

Last Job: Current Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator 

Coaching Tree: Jason Garrett 

Age: 33

Career Record: None

Interview Request: Yes 

Pros: Moore would represent a complete flip from Flores. He’s a young and upcoming offensive play caller, who has consistently helmed top-performing offenses for the past three seasons. He’s helped get Dak Prescott’s game to the next level. He’s also a former NFL quarterback, who understands the game. His offensive scheme is run-heavy and works a lot of quick game concepts, which melds nicely with Tagovailoa’s skillset. 

Cons: Moore is only 33 years old and has limited NFL experience. He wouldn’t have much of a hiring pool to pull from besides the current Dallas staff. He would need to hire an experienced defensive coordinator to handle that side of the ball similar to how Sean McVay hired Wade Phillips. 

Conclusion: Moore is one of my personal favorites. His scheme fits Tagovailoa perfectly, and he’s got experience as an undersized NFL quarterback. However, betting on a 33-year old with no experience is a huge risk. He might need time to learn on the job, which is problematic given Miami is so close to playoff contention. 

Mike McDaniel 

Last Job: Current 49ers Offensive Coordinator 

Coaching Tree: Kyle Shannahan 

Age: 38

Career Record: None 

Interview Request: Yes

Pros: McDaniel has been reported as one of the key reasons the 49ers’ rushing attack has been able to plug in any running back and get above-average production the past couple of years. He was promoted to offensive coordinator this season, and he comes from a successful coaching tree with an offense that has a history of uplifting quarterbacks. 

Cons: McDaniel would come with limited experience as a play caller and with no head coaching experience. There would be questions about how much he’s responsible for the 49ers’ success outside of the running game or lack thereof depending on your opinion of Jimmy Garoppolo. There is also the question of what his defensive staff would look like. 

Conclusion: I’ll be honest, McDaniel was not on my initial list, but I decided to add him after he got an interview request from the team. His story of recovery from struggles with alcohol usage is heartwarming, and he’s got rave reviews from the current 49ers staff. His coaching tree and success in the running game are both encouraging. Outside of that, McDaniel has a lot of question marks on his resume, and again, I’m not sure this is the right time to take a shot on an unproven commodity. 

Eric Bieniemy

Last Job: Current Kansas City Chiefs’ Offensive Coordinator 

Coaching Tree: Andy Reid 

Age: 52

Career Record: None 

Interview Request: No

Pros: Bieniemy has a long and successful track record working with prime offensive talent. He’s helped the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense dominate the NFL landscape for the past three seasons. He also has a lot of experience working with running backs and was one himself, so there is hope he could help revive Miami’s running game. Again, the Andy Reid coaching tree has bred a lot of successful head coaches and gives him a large hiring pool. 

Cons: Bieniemy has been a potential head coaching candidate for three seasons now and has just never seemed to catch on. There are reports saying he’s benefitted greatly from having Reid and Patrick Mahomes to lean on. There is also a list of off-the-field incidents on Bieniemy’s resume going back to his time at Colorado. To be fair, he seems to have put that stuff behind him. 

Conclusion: Bieniemy is a tricky one. There are so many reports floating around about why he hasn’t gotten a head coaching job; it’s hard to imagine this is his breakthrough. However, his offensive pedigree and hiring pool are both attractive. 

Byron Leftwich 

Last Job: Current Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator 

Coaching Tree: Bruce Arians 

Age: 41

Career Record: None 

Interview Requests: No 

Pros: Leftwich has a lot of the same pros as Beienemy. He’s an offensive mind that comes from a good coaching tree. Leftwich has the added benefit of being a former NFL quarterback with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Leftwich has shown an ability to adapt a scheme to fit a quarterback as he’s merged Arians’ vertical scheme with some of Tom Brady’s favorite concepts from New England. 

Cons: Leftwich also has some of the same cons as Bieniemy. He too is the benefactor of an elite offensive head coach and elite quarterback to prop him up. Leftwich also lacks a considerable amount of experience. 

Conclusion: Although Leftwich successfully adapted his scheme to fit Tom Brady, it’s important to remember Brady is the best quarterback of all time. Asking him to adapt to Tagovailoa’s strengths will be much more difficult. Leftwich is a rising star, and I wouldn’t be opposed to him being the hire, but there’s nothing that separates him from Bieniemy or Moore. 

 

Defensive Head Coaches

Dan Quinn

Last Job: Current Dallas Cowboys Defensive Coordinator 

Coaching Tree: Jim Mora 

Age: 51

Career Record: 43-42

Interview Request: Yes 

Pros: Quinn is just the third head coach on this list with prior head coaching experience. He led the Falcons from 2015-20 in a stretch that included a Super Bowl appearance. Quinn is known for running the Seattle cover-three scheme and helping build the legion of boom. He might be able to make the most of Miami’s already impressive defense. 

Cons: Quinn’s biggest con is that he would likely be only a minor shakeup from Flores. Why fire one elite defensive head coach for another? Quinn would need to provide a strong hire at offensive coordinator to alleviate those concerns. Quinn’s in-game management with the Falcons was also questionable at best. 

Conclusion: Quinn can coach. He’s been somewhat successful in every major role he’s had. If he can build a good offensive staff, there is no reason to believe he couldn’t be successful in Miami. However, that “if” just helped get Flores fired, and I’m not sure Ross would want to go down that road again. 

Todd Bowles 

Last Job: Current Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defensive Coordinator 

Coaching Tree: Bill Parcells

Age: 58

Career Record: 26-41 

Interview Request: No 

Pros: Bowles’ biggest strengths are his defensive play-calling prowess and gigantic hiring pool. Bowles does also have prior NFL head coaching experience as he manned the New York Jets from 2015-18. He also served as the Dolphins interim head coach when Tony Sporano was fired in 2007. 

Cons: Bowles has all of the same question marks as Quinn. There are some questions about his ability to build a solid offense staff. Not to mention, his head coaching tenure with the Jets didn’t exactly go well. 

Conclusion: Bowles just doesn’t seem like too much of a change from Flores to warrant serious consideration. He’s a great defensive play caller, and his blitz-heavy scheme would make the most of what Miami has in place. However, I think his shortcomings overwhelm the positives in Miami’s specific case. 

Matt Eberflus

Last Job: Current Indianapolis Colts Defensive Coordinator 

Coaching Tree: Rex Ryan 

Age: 51

Career Record: None 

Interview Request: No

Pros: If Miami was going to with another defensive-minded head coach, I think Eberflus warrants some discussion. He’s impressed coaches everywhere he’s been from the likes of Rex and Rob Ryan to Jason Garrett to Frank Reich. Eberflus has consistently made the Colts defense a solid unit despite obvious holes in personnel. 

Cons: Eberflus has the same cons as the other two defensive-minded head coaches except his hiring pool is presumably a little bit smaller. Nick Sirianni took a lot of the Colts’ offensive staff with him to Philadelphia last cycle. Eberflus also doesn’t have any heading coaching experience to fall back on. 

Conclusion: It’s a long shot for sure, but Eberflus has always impressed me with the performances of his defense and with his ability to develop talent. Getting him an impressive offensive staff would be vital, and I’m just not convinced Miami will want to go through that again, especially with a coach that has no head coaching experience.