After the team opened the season 0-7, virtually everyone knew this would be his last season in Miami. Despite winning four out of five entering Week 14, the Dolphins' 26-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles was obviously enough for management to decide the time for change had arrived.
Sparano was fired after posting a 29-32 record in almost four years at the head of the team. In 2008, his first season on the job, Sparano led the Dolphins to an 11-5 record. An opening-round loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs. Two 7-9 seasons and a 4-9 record this year followed.
That wasn't good enough for owner Stephen Ross, who thought speculation about Sparano's job was becoming a distraction for the franchise. He's right—it was a distraction. The team needed to move on. Three consecutive subpar seasons were enough. The Dolphins needed a change at the top.
Ross has claimed that he wants to make a star hire that will provide an immediate impact. An associate of Ross told the Miami Herald that he plans to contact Bill Cowher almost immediately. If those overtures fall on deaf ears, then expect the usual suspects to be next.
That list should include Jon Gruden, former Titans coach Jeff Fisher, and Brian Billick. All three of these guys have taken teams to Super Bowls. Gruden and Billick have won them.
If Andy Reid becomes available after the season, expect him to be on that list as well.
If the Dolphins add a franchise-type quarterback in the 2012 NFL draft, they really shouldn't be too far away from competing. I don't think Sparano was the kind of guy who could help them get to that next level. So, cutting him loose and starting the team's coaching search as soon as possible was the right move for the franchise.