5 Possible Replacements for Mike Sherman as Miami Dolphins Offensive Coordinator
The end of the 2013 Miami Dolphins was a well-documented collapse and utter implosion of a team with the easiest road to a playoff berth with two weeks remaining.
As Fins fans everywhere gained excitement over the possibility of seeing the team reach the postseason for the first time since 2008, that excitement was still stained with trepidation.
Fans had seen the inconsistencies and ineptitude of the Miami Dolphins offense throughout the season, despite flashes of brilliance from players at times.
There was always that cautious optimism that was tagged with doubt.
What if the Dolphins choked?
Now here we sit in the fresh year of 2014 with that exact scenario in the rear-view mirror. While Dolphins fans attempt to heal their aching hearts, a late Christmas gift of consolation has been delivered by Santa Claus Ross, as the owner has terminated the contract of offensive coordinator Mike Sherman.
The Dolphins ranked 27th in total offense in 2013 and only managed seven points total in the team's final two games. Additionally, the Dolphins ranked 29th in rushing attempts per game, an absurdly questionable number considering the team surrendered a franchise-record 58 sacks on quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Now the team is faced with the task of replacing Sherman at the offensive coordinator position, and here are a few candidates to look for.
Ben McAdoo, 36, is currently the quarterbacks coach for the Green Bay Packers, a position he has held for one season (2013) after being promoted from the team's tight ends coach for the previous six seasons.
McAdoo's ties to Joe Philbin are obvious, as Philbin worked on the Packers staff as offensive coordinator before being hired as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. For that reason, McAdoo is considered the leading candidate to replace Mike Sherman.
Philbin previously showed interest in bringing McAdoo to Miami with him as offensive coordinator in 2012, but the Green Bay Packers blocked interview requests of the Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Dolphins chose Mike Sherman.
Prior to Green Bay, McAdoo worked as assistant offensive line/quality control coach for the San Francisco 49ers in 2005 under Mike McCarthy.
McAdoo could be a good fit for the Dolphins because of his familiarity with Aaron Rodgers. The Dolphins are in serious need of coaches on the offensive side of the ball who can help with the development of Ryan Tannehill. McAdoo also has familiarity with an offense that has been able to produce despite excessive pressure on the quarterback. In 2012, the Packers surrendered 51 sacks, second most in the league.
Reasons for caution exist because the Dolphins have already seen how the situation has played out when Philbin has brought in a friend to coach the team. Perhaps this time around, the Dolphins would be better off not hiring a Philbin associate as offensive coordinator.
The recently fired, one-and-done head coach of the Cleveland Browns is in search of a new gig.
Rob "Chud" Chudzinski, 45, led the Browns to a disappointing 2013, finishing 4-12 and losing their last seven games after starting the season 3-2 and in a tie for first place in the AFC North.
Chudzinski came to Cleveland after serving two years as the offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers. Chudzinski took a Panthers offense that ranked dead last in the league in 2010 and turned it into the seventh best in 2011 with Cam Newton at the helm. The team scored the fifth most in the league and set a new franchise record for total yards.
In 2012, the Panthers ranked 12th in total offense and ninth in rushing offense.
Prior to his stint in Carolina, Chudzinski served as offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns from 2007 to 2008. In 2007, the Browns ranked eighth in total offense and sent four offensive players to the Pro Bowl.
Chudzinski underperformed as head coach of the Browns, but one could argue he was given a raw deal with only one year to prove himself. "Chud" has a proven track record on the offensive side of the ball and could help develop the young talent on the Dolphins.
Kyle Shanahan, 34, has served as the offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins for the past four seasons under his father, Mike Shanahan.
Since taking over as offensive coordinator of the Redskins in 2010, the team's offense has ranked 18th, 16th, fifth and ninth in chronological order.
Despite struggling with injury concerns in his first two seasons, quarterback Robert Griffin III has found success under Shanahan, amassing 7,707 total yards and 43 touchdowns. Shanahan took advantage of Griffin's mobility, a similar trait held by Miami's Ryan Tannehill, and designed an offense that fit his quarterback's skill set.
Griffin III had a Pro Bowl season as a rookie in 2012, passing for 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Griffin III also added 815 yards rushing and seven scores on the ground.
Perhaps the biggest upgrade Shanahan could provide over the departed Sherman is a balanced ground attack. Over Shanahan's tenure, the Redskins rushing attack has ranked 30th, 25th, first and fifth in chronological order. The statistics of the last two years have come with RG3, but also with an undrafted running back in Alfred Morris. In both total offense and rushing offense, the Redskins have shown vast improvement during his tenure.
Prior to his stint in Washington, Shanahan was the offensive coordinator of the Houston Texans, replacing Mike Sherman, who left to take the head coaching position at Texas A&M. While offensive coordinator at Houston (the youngest in the history of the league), Shanahan coached the Texans offense to two top-10 finishes.
Shanahan could bring a rare combination of experience and youth to a team with some potential on offense.
Mike Munchak has been fired after three seasons as the head coach of the Tennessee Titans. During his tenure, the Titans went a mediocre 22-26, including a 7-9 campaign.
The severing of ties with Munchak was a bit messy, with Titans president Tommy Smith reportedly agreeing to bring back Munchak for a fourth season if he met "certain conditions." Supposedly those conditions required Munchak to let certain assistants go. When Munchak refused, the Titans decided to part ways with him.
The 53-year-old former first-round pick of the Houston Oilers has been with the organization since 1982, when he was selected with the eighth overall pick in the draft as an offensive lineman from Penn State.
His ties to the Nittany Lions have put him in the discussions as of late to become the new head coach after the departure of Bill O'Brien to the Houston Texans.
Munchak joined the Oilers staff only one year after his retirement in 1994 to become the offensive assistant/quality control coach. In 1997 he was promoted to offensive line coach of the newly relocated Tennessee Oilers, where he remained for the following 14 seasons. He was named the head coach of the Titans after the departure of Jeff Fisher in 2011.
While his move to the Dolphins as offensive coordinator is not as likely a scenario as some other names in this list, Munchak could bring the offensive line knowledge and experience to a team that desperately needs some direction offensively.
This is by far the least likely scenario for the Dolphins, simply because Ken Whisenhunt is in line for a promotion, and a lateral move to Miami will almost certainly not happen.
Nevertheless, lateral moves have been made by coaches in the NFL before, especially if a pay raise is involved (see Mike Nolan).
Whisenhunt is currently in his first season as offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers. Under his coaching, the Chargers ranked fifth in total offense this season, a vast improvement over a unit that ranked second worst in 2012 before Whisenhunt arrived.
Whisenhunt has also helped a resurgent Philip Rivers rectify his career in 2013. After posting a career low in QBR in 2012, Rivers has improved in every major statistical category and led the team to a 9-7 record and a spot in the playoffs as a Wild Card.
Prior to San Diego, Whisenhunt spent six seasons as the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, bringing the team to a Super Bowl appearance in just his second season. Whisenhunt went 49-53 overall in his time in Arizona.
As said before, a scenario that would bring Whisenhunt to Miami is almost impossible, but until anything is official, the possibility remains. Whisenhunt could bring the offensive expertise and leadership the Miami offense desperately needs.
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