Call it the odd couple last year when Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel hired Vic Fangio to be the team’s defensive coordinator. Fangio is considered one of the best defensive minds in the game, and McDaniel hired him to run the defense. No one can question whether it was a good hire, but the question was the fit. McDaniel is a seemingly laid-back players coach, and Fangio is an old-school coach who does things his way.  

The Dolphins defense improved in a lot of areas statistically and that was despite Fangio never really having a full complement of his defensive players. The Dolphins didn’t have corners Jalen Ramsey and Xavien Howard on the field together except for a handful of games. The Dolphins, in the last month of the season, lost edge rushers Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips to season-ending injuries. Then safety Jevon Holland missed all of December and wasn’t 100% when he tried to play in the season finale against the Buffalo Bills. The team was so decimated by injuries at linebacker that they signed three players to have enough bodies the week leading up to the wild card game against the Kansas City Chiefs. You would think that next year with another offseason in Fangio’s defense and players getting back healthy, the team would do better. 

However, that won’t happen after McDaniel and Fangio decide to part ways. There’s a lot of talk as to why, and we will never know what is true because we don’t know what happens behind closed doors. It was first reported that Fangio wanted to be closer to his family in Pennsylvania. I don’t buy that for a minute because he knew that before he took the job, and at 65 years old, why would he settle for the Dolphins job? Plus, the Philadelphia Eagles just happened to have an opening for a defensive coordinator after they fired their defensive coordinator. Plus, last year, he was a defensive consultant for the Eagles leading up to the Super Bowl for a few weeks. Some say Fangio wanted the Eagles’ job and didn’t really want to be in Miami. That could be true. I mean, after the Dolphins parted ways with him, he was hired by the Eagles in less than one day. That’s insane to me, and am I the only one that has a problem with that? It really makes you wonder if the Eagles contacted him prior to him and the Dolphins parting ways while he was under contract with the Dolphins. 

Then you hear how some players welcomed the change because Fangio didn’t listen to their input, such as Ramsey wanting to shadow the best wide receiver of the opposing team. This is something Fangio typically doesn’t do in his defense. Holland had a tweet with a kicking rocks emoji that came out after Fangio was fired, which he later said wasn’t meant to disrespect Fangio. Then the curious case of why rookie cornerback Cam Smith wasn’t playing with all of the injuries in the secondary. Fangio would say he has a lot to work on, and Smith, after Fangio was fired, tweeted, I’m Free. Coaches and players aren’t always going to see eye to eye so that’s not uncommon for stuff like that to come out. It’s just like former head coach Brian Flores and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s dirty laundry came out after Flores was fired. 

Last week, former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski came out and said players for the Dolphin’s defense weren’t putting the time in and weren’t willing to be coached. Jaworski is close to the Eagles and might have some info there. If that’s the case, it’s something McDaniel knew, then shame on him, and he should address it, but we will never know. Now, it is common for a player coming into the NFL, like Smith, to possibly have maturity issues or not putting in the time. I’m not going to accuse Smith of that because I don’t know, but it is possible. The Dolphins had that issue with former first-round pick Vontae Davis years ago. If this isn’t true, then the players returning should use that as motivation to do better. Next year is going to be a critical year for Smith going into his second year in the league and being a 2nd round draft pick a year ago. He is going to have a lot to prove. 

We are never going to know the whole story. There will be the players’ side and Fangio’s side. The bottom line is that it didn’t work out, but McDaniel didn’t come out of this unscathed. This will be his third defensive coordinator in three years, and if there are issues with guys putting in the time or whatever, then he needs to address this as the head coach. We will find out how everyone responds to the new defensive coordinator, and hopefully, it works out better for everyone.