Dolphins begin search for new coach

Mike Nolan decided against buying a place to live when he came

to town two years ago as defensive coordinator of the Miami

Dolphins.

”I’m a renter now,” Nolan said with a laugh. ”It’s a complete

change in philosophy. I think renting’s the way to go

nowadays.”

He made a good call. The Dolphins face an offseason of big

changes, and a lot of players and assistant coaches will be moving

on.

Owner Stephen Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland began their

search for a head coach Monday by interviewing Todd Bowles, who was

interim coach for the final three games after Tony Sparano was

fired.

The team is also expected to interview former Tennessee Titans

coach Jeff Fisher, and perhaps several other candidates.

”Steve Ross and I have a plan in place that is designated to

ensure that we identify and interview an outstanding set of

candidates for the head coaching position,” Ireland said in a

statement. ”That search has begun and there is no designated

timetable. … Steve and I are excited to embark on this process,

and we are confident that it will result in the selection of an

outstanding individual who will return the Dolphins to their

longtime status as one of the most successful teams in the

league.”

The status of the franchise has declined dramatically in recent

years. The Dolphins have reached the playoffs only once in the past

decade, and they’ve endured three consecutive losing seasons for

the first time since the 1960s.

This season Miami lost its first seven games, then played much

better and beat the New York Jets on Sunday to finish 6-10.

”Our ultimate goal was to make it into the playoffs and make

some noise there, so that’s disappointing,” Pro Bowl receiver

Brandon Marshall said. ”Hopefully we can take some of this

momentum we’ve had in this second half and run into next year

flying.”

The Dolphins would prefer to hire someone with NFL head-coaching

experience, such as Fisher, who coached the Oilers and Titans for

17 years and led them to a Super Bowl. Ross is drawn to celebrities

and apparently willing to spend big, but competition will be stiff

thanks to a slew of vacancies around the league, including all

three Florida teams.

Some situations are more appealing than the Dolphins, who have

been plagued by instability. The next coach will be Miami’s seventh

since the start of the 2004 season.

The ongoing search for a franchise quarterback is another issue.

Newcomer Matt Moore played well after Chad Henne was sidelined by a

season-ending right shoulder injury, but with a top-10 pick in the

April draft, Miami will be tempted to draft a QB.

Henne, a free agent this offseason, said Monday his shoulder is

healing well and he would like to remain with the Dolphins. Given

Moore’s emergence, that’s unlikely.

”I love being down here, and hopefully I get another

opportunity,” Henne said. ”If not, I’ll try my luck elsewhere.

Obviously I want to be a starter, and I feel I can be in this

league.”

Heading for retirement is NFL active sack leader Jason Taylor,

who decided to call it quits rather than try to break in yet

another new coach. Among those certain to return is Reggie Bush,

who reached the 1,000-yard rushing milestone for the first time in

his first season with Miami.

The Dolphins had trouble with pass protection and pass coverage.

Blowing late leads and losing close games became bad habits. Those

issues will all be addressed by a new coach, but Bush believes the

team needs only few tweaks, not major renovations.

”The chemistry is there. The foundation is laid out,” Bush

said. ”I think whatever coach they bring in will fit right in, and

I think we’ll be fine.”

Perhaps. But the next coach might want to try renting.