The Miami Dolphins will be welcoming offensive coordinator candidates to the interview room this weekend in what figures to be a critical week for the trajectory of the Dolphins’ offense. Miami’s offense took positive steps in 2020, but there were plenty of areas of improvement between the red zone, short yardage and third down that need to be addressed. Miami hopes that their next hire can work well with young quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and smooth over some of those sore spots along the way. But who will the next hire be?
We’ve put the Dolphins’ past trends with senior offensive coaches under the microscope and, between Jim Caldwell and Chan Gailey, there are a few trends and points of emphasis that the Dolphins have pursued in the past. These aren’t the only criteria that matter to the Dolphins, of course, but they are notable and can help us decipher which candidates the Dolphins may pursue if they’re going to work under the same rules that they have in the past.
With that in mind, who are the candidates on the market who can check these boxes?
Dec 27, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks Carson Wentz (11) and Jalen Hurts (2) talk with head coach Doug Pederson (C) during a timeout against the Dallas Cowboys in the second quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Head coach of: Philadelphia Eagles
Play calling years: 2016-2020 (Philadelphia)
NFL experience: 12 (27)
The Philadelphia Eagles have fired Doug Pederson this week in a surprising move — Pederson is just a few years removed from coaching the Eagles to a Super Bowl championship with a backup quarterback in Nick Foles. He qualifies for the Dolphins criteria if you’re willing to give him credit for his time in the NFL as quarterback. Pederson has coached with Kansas City and Philadelphia as a member of the Andy Reid coaching tree since 2009.
The big question for Miami is if Pederson is comfortable with taking a step back into a coordinator’s role — he figures to be a potential head coach candidate for other vacancies across the league.
Dec 27, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn talks to the kick off team after the Chargers scored a touchdown in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Head coach of: Los Angeles Chargers
Play calling years: 2016 (Buffalo)
NFL experience: 21 (28 with playing experience)
Lynn meets the criteria across the board thanks to serving in an assistant head coach/offensive coordinator role during his time with the Buffalo Bills in 2016. Lynn has served plenty of time as a head man with his time in the Los Angeles Chargers organization — and the appeal for Lynn is that he doesn’t appear to be a hot commodity to step into another head coaching role in the near future. The struggles of his teams in close games and in game management will likely prevent a hot market to return as a head coach, but Lynn could rehab is reputation as a play caller in Miami. Most appealing here? His success with rookie quarterback Justin Herbert in 2020.
Sep 20, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton talks to Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) before he takes the field for the first time in an NFL game. The Chargers were playing the Kansas City Chiefs at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Head coach of: DC Defenders (XFL)
Offensive coordinator years: 2013-2015 (Indianapolis Colts)
NFL experience: 12 (24 with college)
Hamilton comes up short in several key benchmarks, but he’s arguably the second or third most attractive hire on this list. Hamilton has been around the block and served as Justin Herbert’s quarterback coach in Los Angeles this past season under the watch of Anthony Lynn. His head coaching experience was short-lived but he’s also got a great stretch of experience at the college level, working with the Stanford and Michigan programs as either a passing game coordinator, assistant head coach or offensive coordinator.
Dec 27, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marron walks the sidelines during the second half against the Chicago Bears at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Head coach of: Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars
Offensive coordinator years: 2006-2008 (New Orleans Saints)*
NFL experience: 12 (27)
While Marrone technically doesn’t meet all three of the previous bullet points, we will include him here. We have a hard time seeing him being a viable candidate for this position and his tenure as the offensive coordinator behind Sean Payton in New Orleans came over a decade ago, so he didn’t get a chance to call plays despite his experience as an offensive coordinator. Jacksonville and Buffalo’s offenses under Marrone’s watch have been more smash mouth football and he’s not necessarily renowned for his play design or work with quarterbacks, so this is a tough sell.
But never the less, he’s someone who has been around the block, he’s someone who has served as an OC before and he’s someone who has been a leader in a locker room, so he’s on the list.