After three and half seasons and a career record of 24-28, the Miami Dolphins finally decided to fire head coach Joe Philbin on Monday morning.
The team entered the 2015 season with high expectations, as the team re-signed quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a six-year, $96 million contract extension and gave defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh a $60 million signing bonus, but that hasn't translated into success this season. Miami has begun the season 1-3 and the team has suffered double-digit losses to the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets each of the past two weeks.
Tight ends coach Dan Campbell will assume the role as interim head coach for the rest of the 2015 season, but not a lot of people expect him to keep the job permanently.
Now that the team has relieved Philbin of his head coaching duties, who could be some of the potential candidates to become the Dolphins' next head coach?
5. Dan Campbell (Interim Dolphins head coach)
Campbell didn’t exactly throw Philbin under the bus during his introductory press conference, but he did say the Dolphins needed a culture change.
“We have plenty of talent,” Campbell said. “We have the people in this building, we have the staff. There may be some things that need to be moved and shuffled, I have to sort those things out, but we have enough to win. We have to change the culture. I have to change the culture,”
Campbell has been with the Dolphins' organization ever since the 2010 season, but he doesn’t have any head coaching experience. What Campbell does have is experience playing in the NFL, something that Philbin did not.
The former tight end played for former head coach Bill Parcells and current New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, so he has played under coaches who know how to motivate their players. Campbell could provide the Dolphins with the fire the team needs to succeed.
4. Eric Mangini (San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator)
The San Francisco 49ers' defense isn’t exactly playing great this season. Their unit is currently ranked 24th in total defense, but the Dolphins still could hire Mangini, San Francisco's coordinator on that side of the ball, to be their next head coach.
Eric Mangini and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum have a history of working with each other. Tannenbaum and Mangini were both with the Jets from 2006-08. While they didn’t have much success in New York, it wouldn’t be a big surprise if Tannenbaum targeted Mangini to turn the Dolphins around.
3. Mike Shula (Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator)
Many Dolphin fans yearn for the old days of Don Shula. While Shula isn’t coming back to coach at 85 years old, his son Mike, who is the Carolina Panthers' offensive coordinator, could be an option for the Dolphins.
Despite the lack of weapons on offense, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is playing arguably the best football of his career. After four games, the former Heisman Trophy winner has thrown for 809 yards and seven touchdowns. The Panthers are 4-0 and Shula has played a big role in the team’s success.
2. Kyle Shanahan (Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator)
While Mike Shanahan is more a marquee name, his son Kyle has done an excellent job in his first season as offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons. The team is currently fourth overall in total offense and quarterback Matt Ryan is second in the NFL in passing yards.
Shanahan has done well in his stops with the Houston Texans, Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns and now with the Falcons. If Atlanta continues to play well, expect to hear Shanahan’s name mentioned with the Dolphins and other any head coaching openings that become available around the league.
1. Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M Aggies head coach)
Tannenbaum has always liked to make the big headline moves no matter if it was with the Jets or now with the Dolphins. What bigger splash could he make than hiring one of the hottest college coaches in the nation in Sumlin?
In his time with Houston and now at Texas A&M, Sumlin has always had excellent offenses. This year, the Aggies are 5-0 and have the second-best offense in terms of yards per game in the SEC.
It will take a lot of convincing and a likely a ton of money for Sumlin to leave Texas A&M, but everyone knows Miami owner Stephen Ross has the resources to make that happen. If Sumlin has ever had thoughts about leaving College Station, this could be the time. Sumlin has the personality and charisma that both players and the South Florida media would enjoy.
Out of these five names, my pick would be Shanahan. He has worked with a number of quarterbacks at different stops and he could possibly help Tannehill achieve more success.
Shanahan also would improve the Dolphins' offense, which is currently 23rd in yards and 30th in points per game (16.3 ppg). Philbin was an offensive coordinator before before he came to Miami, but he didn’t call plays when he with Mike McCarthy at Green Bay. Shanahan is a play-caller and likes to run more of a balanced offense, something the Dolphins desperately need.
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.