AFC East: Rams hire Fisher

Now comes the hard part for Dolphins

January, 13, 2012
1/13/12
3:25
PM ET
There will be no sexy offseason coaching hire for the Miami Dolphins. That opportunity passed Miami by when veteran head coach Jeff Fisher chose the St. Louis Rams Friday over the Dolphins.

But this doesn't mean the Dolphins' coaching search has to be a total loss. It simply means Miami needs to work harder and smarter to find the right coach in 2012.

[+] EnlargeJeff Fisher
AP Photo/Frederick BreedonThe Dolphins missed out on the most experienced coaching candidate available when Jeff Fisher opted to go to St. Louis.
Targeting Fisher was easy. Anyone with some semblance of football knowledge could identify Fisher as the best and most experienced coaching candidate this offseason. But with Fisher out and time running short -- the Senior Bowl is in two weeks -- now we're going to find out how much football smarts owner Stephen Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland really have.

The Dolphins most likely will go with an NFL assistant coach. That person will be unproven and inexperienced, and this year it appears an even bigger roll of the dice than usual.

Dave Toub? Joe Philbin? Mike Zimmer? Todd Bowles?

Who knows?

These are all candidates the Dolphins are looking at for Plan B. Compared to Fisher, these were really Plans C or D for Miami. Some additional names may enter in the next week or two, but those candidates probably will be just as inexperienced.

Here is the rub: Dolphins fans will simply have to trust Ross and Ireland that their next coaching hire is the right choice. Miami could bring in the next John Harbaugh from the assistants ranks or another Tony Sparano. That is the position Miami is in.

There will be no quick fixes for the Dolphins. Fisher would've sold tickets and put butts back in the seats before the Dolphins ran their first play in 2012. Barring a miracle and some unforeseen change of heart from Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher, Miami's next head coach will not.

Miami's only easy out accepted a job in St. Louis Friday.

Now comes the hard part for the Dolphins.

The waiting game is over, and the Miami Dolphins came up on the short end.

Jeff Fisher, the biggest name on the 2012 coaching market, spurned the Miami Dolphins on Friday for the St. Louis Rams. It ends a lengthy saga of back-and-forth speculation and leverage by the former Tennessee Titans coach.

Miami interviewed Fisher last week and he was Miami’s top target from the start. But Fisher also had his eyes on the St. Louis job, and spent most of last week interviewing with the Rams twice and visiting their facilities.

Fisher
Fisher
In the meantime, there were various reports that Fisher couldn’t make up his mind. Eventually, he chose the Rams.

St. Louis has an opening at general manager and a potential franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford. Miami could not compete with those two factors. The Dolphins still have general manager Jeff Ireland in place, and are still searching for their long-term quarterback.

Miami owner Stephen Ross lost out on his chance to make a splashy coaching hire. Now he has to go to Plan B, which most likely involves hiring a lesser-known NFL assistant.

Miami already interviewed assistant coaches Dave Toub of the Chicago Bears, Joe Philbin of the Green Bay Packers, Mike Zimmer of the Cincinnati Bengals, and Dolphins interim coach Todd Bowles.

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