Who’s counting? Everyone…at least every Miami Dolphins football fan should be counting. There have been ten! Ten coaches since Coach God (Don Shula who became iconic over 26 seasons). Ten men have taken the head headset and put it on since Shula retired. Some were simply “iterim” coaches who got their chance between the firing and hiring of others.
Only two of the coaches are names most sports fans would recognize: Jimmy Johnson and Nick Saban. Jimmy burned out, especially after the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Dophins 62-7. He retired from coaching. Saban, meanwhile, left in the middle of the night to return to college ball. Given his success at Alabama, he made the right decision.
So go ahead, list the other head coaches who were handed the ball and failed to score. Hardcore DolFans would probably be able to do it. Skipping interim coaches, here’s the list: Jimmy Johnson (1996-1999), (Dave Wannstedt (2000-2004), Nick Saban (2005-2006), Cam Cameron (2007), Tony Saprano (2008-2011), Joe Philbin (2012-2015) and Adam Gase (2016-present).
Now here is where my theory comes in—note: it’s a hypothetical theory with holes in it and it does not apply to every Dolphins coach. But overall, I think it applies to why the Dolphins have had a tough time returning to the glory days. When you look at these coaches’ names and picture these coaches as they were game day on the sidelines from the vantage point of just an average fan, do any of the following words come to mind:
Nope, I don’t think so. I don’t see any of those words applying to Miami’s recent history of coaches. For example, Tony Sparano, my least favorite, never even had the energy to remove his Sunglasses during the post-game press conferences. The current coach, Adam Gase, has the emotional extremes of a sloth. Even today, after a come-from-behind win against the Jets featuring 3rd string QB Nat Moore, his demeanor was the same as if he had lost the game.
Fact is, all these Dolphins coaches needed coaching. No, not football coaching…management and relationship coaching. They don’t seem to acknowledge that football is a highly emotional game played by mostly hyper, super-emotional people. Maybe if these coaches had been better schooled in some areas in which good managers have invested significant time and effort, the performance of their staff (the players) may have been better. I’m referring to things like motivational techniques, sensitivity training, diversity and just plain old enthusiasm about your people and not being afraid to show it. So, just maybe, if they practiced good management skills in addition to good coaching, they may have done better. All of them needed to get closer to their players and bring some excitability to the game. Okay, that’s my take on what’s wrong with the Miami Dolpins. They need more excitable, relatable coaches. True you can have a highly successful team with a dull personality leading it—New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick case in point. By contrast, check out Penn State Coach James Franklin.
If you study successful organizations, both on the field and elsewhere, I am pretty sure you will find the majority are led by not only smart people who know their trade, but in addition, they are dynamic, exciting, emotional, vibrant, forceful, memorable, passionate leaders. If the Dolphins want to score more touchdowns, I suggest they hire more touchy coaches…but I don’t think they’ll really take me seriously.