One of the more surprising developments of NFL’s Black Monday was the dismissal of Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea. The news took many by surprise considering how much the Dolphins offense has overperformed this season. However, as both Joe Marino and Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network stated on Twitter, the Dolphins were looking to keep quarterback coach Jerry Schuplinski.
PFN Insider Benjamin Allbright and PFN Co-Owner Matt Infante confirmed that this was part of the reason for the move. Additionally, sources told Pauline that while O’Shea was viewed as a great wide receiver coach, there were some in the building who didn’t view him as a good coordinator.
December 31 Update: Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported that Chan Gailey was coming out of retirement to be the next Dolphins offensive coordinator. In this report, we did not mention that Schuplinski would be promoted to the offensive coordinator post. Instead, the underlying theme was that the move to fire Chad O’Shea was done to help keep Schuplinski on the team. We weren’t told much more than that, but one can speculate what that means (tension behind the scenes, differing philosophies, etc).
Big takeaway here is that someone is hiring Josh McDaniels to be their HC and he was planning on plucking Schuplinski (Dolphins QB coach) who was headed to Indy with McDaniels. Miami did what they had to do to keep Schuplinksi. https://t.co/yZQvRXWAoQ
— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) December 30, 2019
According to what Infante heard, the Dolphins felt like it was more integral to the development of their future quarterback to have Schuplinski on the team over O’Shea. But, why was there a fear that he would leave? With New England Patriots OC Josh McDaniels being considered as the front runner for other jobs, Miami felt like they needed to make an aggressive move to keep Schuplinski.
Schuplinski’s relationship with McDaniels
McDaniels and Schuplinski have a long history. When the Patriots were in the midst of being upset by the Philadephia Eagles back during the Super Bowl LII, rumors had already circulated that it would be McDaniels’ last game with the team. The Monday after the crushing loss, the Indianapolis Colts announced that McDaniels was to become their next head coach. Another announcement shortly after said that Schuplinski would be leaving to join McDaniels and his new team.
The next day, the tide started to shift while McDaniels was going through his exit interviews. According to ESPN, Belichick offered to include McDaniels on more of the inner workings of the organization – from roster construction to financial/salary-cap related considerations – if he stayed. McDaniels couldn’t resist and decided to remain a Patriot. The moved was unheard of, with the Colts having already announced the acquisition.
General Manager of the Colts, Chris Ballard, spoke about how exactly the incident went down.
“He called and said he had bad news for me,” Ballard said. “I said, ‘I just need a yes or no answer. Are you in or out?’ We went around for a minute and he said he’s out and I said. ‘OK, we’re going to move forward. I wish you the best of luck.’”
Schuplinski, who was also a college teammate of McDaniels at their alma mater John Carroll University, followed suit and remained a part of the Patriots staff as an assistant quarterbacks coach. The two know each other well and put together a successful system in New England because of their familiarity. Schuplinski would then join Brian Flores on the Dolphins staff after the 2019 Super Bowl.
Why is Schuplinski such a hot commodity?
Looking back Schuplinski’s career, it is no wonder the Dolphins wanted to keep him around. Besides the fact that Flores has experience working with him while he was the de facto defensive coordinator for the Patriots, he has also done a tremendous job with the quarterbacks he’s mentored.
Schuplinski had spent the prior five seasons with the Patriots, with the last three as assistant QB coach. During his time with the team, Schuplinski was the one who primarily worked with the rookies when they arrived in the organization.
He is credited for helping develop quarterbacks like Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett, both of which are starting QBs with other organizations. Both QBs had nothing but positive things to say about working with Schuplinski.
“I can’t even tell you how many conversations I had with Jerry just man-to-man, him helping me out and getting me acclimated to the NFL life,” Garoppolo said “I really thank him for that. I probably wouldn’t be where I am at without him.”
One of Schuplinski’s biggest strengths is being able to connect with his players. It is an ability that Brissett talked about on numerous occasions.
“He was a great mentor for me,” Brissett added. “That was on and off the field. He was someone I always leaned on and just talked about anything. We would talk about life, family — things away from football that made our relationship so special.”
Schuplinski’s capacity for caring is not lost on his players. He has been able to bring that to Miami this past season with hope of working with even more young, talented players.
Developing a young QB is key to Miami’s future
As well as Ryan Fitzpatrick has played this season, Miami’s future is not in the hands of a 37-year-old journeyman. There is a very good chance that the Dolphins will be drafting a quarterback in this year’s 2020 NFL Draft. That QB has obviously been not yet been named, but there is hope that Miami will be able to use one of their plethora of draft picks to secure their next franchise QB.
Miami is full of young talented players like Mike Gesicki and Preston Williams. They also have Josh Rosen still on the roster behind Fitzpatrick. Schuplinski is a big part of coaching these guys up.
You would be hardpressed to find someone that says this Dolphins team hasn’t outperformed expectations this year. Even with five wins, they have played well and were able to take down the New England Patriots at home in Week 17 to close out the year. With the roster they have, it has been impressive what this coaching staff has been able to accomplish.
This QB coach deserves credit for part of that success. Ensuring that Schuplinski remains on the team to help and mentor whatever young players will be coming to Miami will be an integral part of their future success.