Chad Henne isn't the only Dolphin who's future depends on this upcoming 2011 season. After having an incredible first year, winning 11 games, taking the division, and coming back after a horrendous 1-15 season, Tony Sparano showed us that it all might have been a fluke by following the year going on back-to-back 7-9 seasons. Although 7-9 doesn't seem bad to the Detroit Lion's and Cleveland Brown's of the world, Miami expects great things from this team. After signing Karlos Dansby and Brandon Marshall in 2010, the Dolphins looked to be AFC East competitors and definite Wild-Card competitors, unfortunately that wasn't the case. After a heartbreaking loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 7, the Dolphin's season seemed to have turned for the worst. Touchdowns were rarities, field goals were customary, Dan Carpenter seemed to be our MVP, and it seemed as if our 7-9 season was just a cover up on how poorly this team was coached . Obviously Jeff Ireland and Steven Ross will be looking at replacements if, hypothetically, Sparano ultimately "fails" to reach expectations this year. So, let's take a look at possible replacements to the sunglasses and the mustache:
1. Bill Cowher: In Cowher’s 15 seasons, the Steelers captured eight division titles, earned ten postseason playoff berths, played in 21 playoff games, advanced to six AFC Championship games and made two Super Bowl appearances. He is one of only six coaches in NFL history to claim at least seven division titles. It has become an article of faith among NFL pundits that the Steelers do not have a bad team two years in a row – they have never lost 10 or more games in consecutive years since the 1970 NFL merger. At the conclusion of the 2005 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers had the best record of any team in the National Football League since Cowher was hired as head coach. Cowher would certainly bring that swagger, confidence, and fundamentally great football that we have been missing for the past decade.
2. Jon Gruden: In his first season as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jon Gruden was the youngest head coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl. He was also the first veteran head coach in the history of the NFL to lead his team to the Super Bowl in his first season with a new team. Prior to joining the Buccaneers, Gruden guided the Oakland Raiders to division titles in each of his final two seasons as head coach. But, is Gruden the man everyone thinks he is? Why is he praised so much? Is he even that good a coach? These are questions i tend to ask myself when evaluating Gruden, but one thing is certain, he would have a huge impact on the players coming in.
3. Jeff Fisher: Over the last 11 seasons (1999-2009), Fisher has guided the Titans to six playoff appearances – only three teams (Indianapolis, Philadelphia and New England) have more appearances during that time. During his tenure, his accomplishments include six playoff appearances (1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008), three Division titles (2000, 2002, 2008), two AFC Championship Games (1999, 2002) and one Super Bowl berth (XXXIV). With 91 victories during the 2000’s, Fisher directed the franchise to the most successful decade in franchise history (1990’s – 88 wins). Now if the Dolphins do end up acquiring Vince Young, i highly doubt that Fisher would coach the Phins.
4. Brian Billick: Billick became the second head coach in Baltimore Ravens history on Jan. 19, 1999, replacing Ted Marchibroda. The Ravens went 8-8 in Billick's first season, and they were 12-4 in 2000, earning an AFC playoff berth as a wild card team. Baltimore defeated the Denver Broncos, Tennessee Titans and Oakland Raiders in the playoffs en route to Super Bowl XXXV in Miami, where the Ravens earned a 34-7 win against theNew York Giants.The following season, the Ravens went 10-6 before losing in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs. Baltimore made the playoffs four times in Billick's nine seasons. Billick has more wins than any coach in Ravens history, having compiled a record of 85-66 during his tenure with the Ravens. Their is no doubt in my mind that with Billick's offensive tactics, this team would steamroll right into the playoffs.
5. Mike Holmgren: Most recently, Holmgren was the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks from 1999-2008. He guided the club to a 10-year regular season record of 86-74 (.538), giving him the most victories of any coach in that franchise’s history. His crowning achievement in Seattle occurred in 2005, when the Seahawks posted a regular season record of 13-3, captured the NFC West title and went on to play in Super Bowl XL before falling to Pittsburgh, 21-10. In Holmgren’s 10 seasons at the helm of the Seahawks, the club advanced to the playoffs on six occasions, two more times than they did in the previous 23 years of existence. In fact, Holmgren’s first year with the club resulted in a 9-7 record and the AFC West title, marking the team’s first winning record since 1990, and its initial playoff appearance and divisional crown since 1988.
Their is one thing that all these coaches have in common: Super Bowl appearance.