"The Dolphins didn't handle the Sparano situation well and that will not look good among the coaching community. Miami also plans to retain general manager Jeff Ireland, doesn't have a franchise quarterback and has to compete with winning programs like the New England Patriots and New York Jets in the AFC East. Top coaching candidates may see other jobs around the league as more attractive"
Jerome Bettis, former all-pro, Cowher RB and current commentator for the NFL Network
"It would have to be farfetched -- and this would never happen -- it would have to (be) something like Andy Reid gets fired or something crazy," Bettis said. "Something to that degree." ... That's the type of scenario that Coach Cowher would have to really give some thought, because now you're not coming in coaching a last-place team. You've got a quality football team that needs direction and understanding."
"I don't think a Miami job will entice him because there are so many issues, No. 1 being the quarterback position," Bettis said. "The one thing I do know is he's not going anywhere that doesn't have a solid quarterback already in place."
If we are to listen to the ideas of others we might forget to see the reality of some situations. Both James Walker and Jerome Bettis have great knowledge of these situations and respected opinions. But one thing about the NFL is the unexpected is always right around the corner. And if you take a look at what it takes to make Cowher happy and what the Dolphins have to offer, you might be surprised with what you find.
1) An established team
First things first, Bill Cowher wants to walk into a good situation. He's not going to want a Jaguars team that has a rookie quarterback he probably would not have wanted or a defense that is light years away from Super Bowl or mid-90's Steelers quality. Kansas City has an opening, stars on both side of the ball, great fight, great fans and great upside. Downside? Meet GM Scott Pioli. He's going NOwhere. That leaves potential openings in Minnesota and San Diego. But Minnesota has Adrian Peterson and nothing else and Norv Turner just seems to be that cat with 9 lives, so we can rule them out.
The Dolphins? More established than you think.
They have a great defense. Yes, THAT Miami Dolphins defense. YES, the 2011 version. They are sneaky third in the league in Rush Defense. As for their 25th ranked Pass D? You can attribute that to three gashings courtesy of Tom Brady, Eli manning and Philip Rivers. Remove those outliers and the Defense jumps to a respectable 11th overall. And on top of that, since the offense has learned to control the clock with Reggie Bush and smart passing, (2nd in the league in Time of Possession for the past 6 weeks with a 4-2 record) the defense is able to use its assets and play fast and quality defense, similar to what the Steelers used to and still value.
Now imagine how quickly this defense would turn around in a 3-4 Zone Blitz scheme that Cowher would undoubtedly deploy? 3-4's need linebackers with speed for the edge and cover skills for the middle (Taylor, Wake, Dansby and Burnett are perfect fits) Ends and tackles that take up blockers, (Merling is a start and DT is abundant in the coming draft, a Cowher specialty) and Man to Man corners that can hold their own (Vontae Davis is a star and Sean Smith is a solid starter). Cowher would only have to add his scheme to let this Defense reach its potential. The sacks would add up quick and the corners would do excellent jobs of capitalizing on quarterback mistakes because of the rush. A match made in heaven in my opinion.
The offensive line is strength. Jake Long is a true star and lead while Vernon Carey, Young Mike Pouncey and Incognito play with a mean streak similar to what Cowher loves for his teams to push the defense back with the running game. Anthony Fasano, for all his receiving ups and downs, is a great run blocker, the real reason he is still in Orange and Teal. He is cut from the same mold of Mark Bruener, a favorite from Cowher's Pittsburgh days.
At running back there may be a snag. We know that Cowher loves a bruiser and the Dolphins just don't have one. Reggie has developed a great attitude over the past few weeks and is really trying to run guys over when on the field, contributing to his recent 100 yard efforts, and Daniel Thomas is a great, strong and young complement to Reggie. But Cowher may want someone that can tote it 30 times a game that he can trust at the goal line.
The receivers do well in their ability to catch the ball and create, when the ball gets to them in timely fashion. Brandon Marshall is a tar. Along with Devon Bess, they play with chips on their shoulder and are both threats in the receiving games. A true compliment to them is that they have finally put into their games the ability to block down field and seek that block to spring the runner. If you watch the film, Bush gets big yardage when he can hit the hole and have help at the second level, where the TE and WR's have been flourishing in their down field blocking.
That brings us to another sticking point in bring Cowher to South Florida
|Cowher won only when he drafted his QB |
in 2004. In Ben first season Pittsburgh
This is one piece of the team that many would feel as the though the most experience would be warranted from Cowher to bring him into the fold. The Dolphins have a competent passer in Matt Moore, but he, like Tommy Maddox, is not a franchise style or Super Bowl type QB. But what the Dolphins do have over any other team is the ability to add a star quarterback through the draft immediately, with the perks of:
a) Not ruffling feathers of the current incumbent and causing locker room/Front Office friction (Jaand Gabbert, Minnesota and Ponder, KC Cassel and Pioli)
b) A draft class for Qb's that rivals 2004, during which Cowher hand pick his man in Ben Roethlisberger
c) Setting the tone of his tenure with the franchise with his kind of Quarterback
Cowher gets to pick from, Robert Griffin III (Heisman and pro style in college), Mark Bradley (Great leader, measurables and pedigree coming from USC) Landry Jones (Great competitor and numbers) and to a lesser extent, if they can jump high enough, prized QB Andrew Luck (Highest rated QB prospect ever).
It’s not as if the QB position would be a drawback. Cowher could choose his guy; build around him while finally being the guy to bring the first Franchise QB to Miami since Marino retired.
And don't be surprised if said QB gets hands on training with Marino, good friend and co-worker of Cowher, from Pittsburgh, living in Miami.
However, moves like that might require
3) GM Power
And that may be the sticking point. This is where it gets scary for Miami fans. Do the Dol-fans want a new GM. Hell yes. One that doesn’t draft like a Sputnik? Missed on Ginn Jr. Missed chances at three prime needs in 2010 draft (passed on RB Mark Ingram in 1st round, DT Marvin Austin in 2nd round, and QB Ryan Mallet in the 3rd). Offended Dez Bryant to the point of undraftable in 2010. He's done a good job somewhat on the defense but Cowher's track record (and yes I realize that Cowher was never a GM in Pittsburgh, but his power over decisions in player personnel decisions was strongly apparent.) is amazing in the draft an beyond it. His ability to find players that fit and play the right way is uncanny. Hines Ward, Jason Gildon, Joel Steed, Mike Vrabel, Max Starks, and Joey Porter where all deep draft picks that he found and made stars. Wondering what he could add to the Dolphins squad is as easy as looking at his teams that ruled the AFC Central and North for years is all one needs to do.
However, Steve Ross may be able to afford Cowher but must find away to let Cowher run things unopposed. Cowher's distaste for Front Office opposition is one well chronicled in the Pittsburgh area and is the main reason he has waited so long to return.
This will probably end the same as it has the past few years. Some flirting, some courting, some questions, but no connections. But there will be no doubting Ross doesn't want to repeat what happened last year in missing his man in Jim Harbaugh. Cowher is the number one target for Ross. He's wants him and he'll ante up. But ultimately, it is up to Team Cowher to see the potential that the Dolphins have to pull 2011 49ers on the league. A match made in heaven? Maybe not. But the best option for Cowher? The only way a better situation comes along is if Mike McCarthy suddenly retires. This is it for Cowher, time to dust off the chin and get started.