Miami Dolphins Coaching Search: Making sense of the Dolphins’ relatively quiet coaching search two days in

The Miami Dolphins' search for Brian Flores' replacement as head coach is coming into focus, with Dan Quinn among those who make sense.

The Miami Dolphins didn’t just wake up Monday and decide to fire head coach Brian Flores. This was a decision weeks — and perhaps even months — in the making. And yet, they’ve had relatively slow start in the very early stage of this hiring cycle. While the Broncos, Bears, and Jaguars have at the very least requested meetings with seemingly every major candidate, the Dolphins as of midday Tuesday hadn’t created the same headlines.

Miami Dolphins coaching search

By dinnertime, five candidates have emerged publicly. According to NFL Network, the Dolphins have requested interviews with Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.

Three of those five candidates have ties to Miami. Daboll was the Dolphins OC in 2011. Quinn coached Miami’s defensive line from 2005-2006. Joseph was Miami’s defensive coordinator under Adam Gase in 2016. All three have worked with Dolphins general manager Chris Grier, who was a national scout during Quinn’s time with the team, and the director of college scouting when Daboll was with the organization.

We haven’t had a chance to chat with Grier since the season ended. Thus, much of what we’re writing here is informed speculation. But based on all available evidence — including Grier’s decision to hire Flores three years ago and owner Stephen Ross’ edict for organizational communication and cohesion — it’s fair to speculate that Grier would prefer to hire someone with whom he has a personal history and a comfort level.

Do the Dolphins envision a Dan Quinn-Mike McDaniel partnership?

That is why the McDaniel and Moore interview requests stand out. Neither has any ties to the Dolphins and no obvious links to Grier. Moore is a rising star, so perhaps the Dolphins are making an exception for him.

Plus McDaniel makes some sense if viewed through this lens: He was on Quinn’s Falcons staff in 2016 when Atlanta went to the Super Bowl. Quinn was the head coach then.

McDaniel was an offensive assistant. So perhaps this interview request is a way for the Dolphins to feel out McDaniel’s willingness to join Quinn’s staff again, but this time as an offensive coordinator.

Despite McDaniel’s title, Kyle Shanahan calls the plays in San Francisco. Still, it would be intriguing to see what he could do if he brings Shanahan’s system to Miami, which hasn’t ranked in the top 10 in scoring since 2001.

Daboll would presumably call plays wherever he lands, but he has a hole in his résumé that could provide decisive for Miami: He has never been an NFL head coach.

Head coaching experience will be a factor for Miami

When asked by PFN Monday if hiring someone with that previous experience was important, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross replied:

“We’re going to look for the best man. Certainly having the experience always helps. I’m sure, if we believe we found somebody that is exceptional that’s been a coordinator or some other position in football, I certainly would look at that very seriously. Our mind is open. We’re looking for someone that could work together in taking this roster and taking it to its next level.”

The Dolphins should indeed do their due diligence. But it’s our sense that Ross — who has hired and then fired three first-time coaches since 2012 — would prefer someone who has done it before. That’s why they reached out to Quinn and Joseph (who was the Broncos’ head coach from 2017-2018), and why we expect them to consider Dennis Allen, Doug Pederson, and Jim Caldwell, among others.

All three have been NFL head coaches in the past. And since Pederson and Caldwell are not currently employed by an NFL team, either could interview with Miami at any time — assuming they haven’t already and we just haven’t heard about it.

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