Who’s next? 3 candidates who could be the Miami Dolphins’ next head coach

Could UCLA's Jim Mora be Miami's next head coach?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Who will be Miami’s next head coach? FOX Sports Senior NFL Writer Alex Marvez lists three candidates who could be a good fit for the Dolphins as the team seeks a replacement for Joe Philbin, who was fired in early October.

JIM SCHWARTZ

Jim Schwartz was the Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator in 2014.  

No head-coaching candidate has more familiarity with Miami’s Ndamukong Suh than Schwartz, who was with Detroit when the defensive tackle became that franchise’s first-round pick in 2010. Schwartz would know how to get the best out of Suh, whose first season with the Dolphins was underwhelming from both a production and leadership standpoint. Improving both areas and forging a strong bond with Suh will be critical for Miami’s next head coach.

That’s because the massive contract Miami gave Suh during the 2015 offseason essentially gives him more job security for the next two years than anyone else inside team headquarters. Schwartz’s five-year tenure with Detroit was a mixed bag. He transformed a woeful 0-16 team in 2008 into a 10-6 playoff qualifier in 2011. The Lions, though, began to slide over the next two seasons with major slumps to end the 2012 and 2013 campaigns, which led to his firing. Schwartz reestablished himself as an outstanding defensive coach with the work he did as Buffalo’s coordinator in 2014.

He had multiple opportunities to serve in the same position elsewhere this season after being released by the Bills following Rex Ryan’s hiring as head coach. Schwartz instead took what was essentially a one-year paid vacation that included a stint working as a consultant for the NFL’s officiating department while keeping an eye toward head-coaching vacancies in 2016.

MIKE SHULA

Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula talks with head coach Ron Rivera.

The name alone would bring back positive memories of when Mike’s father Don Shula led the Dolphins to greatness. However, what should be even more exciting is the work Mike Shula has done helping to lift Carolina quarterback Cam Newton into becoming the frontrunner to win NFL Most Valuable Player honors. Shula’s offensive scheme has heavily accentuated Newton’s strengths while continuing to develop him as a top-flight passer to match his formidable running skills.

This accomplishment could carry heavy weight with Dolphins management considering the team’s top offseason priority should be trying to transform Ryan Tannehill into the franchise quarterback they thought he would become when signing him to a six-year, $96 million contract extension during the 2015 offseason.

Shula also has prior head coaching experience as the predecessor to Nick Saban at the University of Alabama. One caveat: Because of the desire to formalize a strong coaching staff when top assistants are still available, the Dolphins may not have the patience to wait for Shula to become available if Carolina makes a deep postseason run.

JIM MORA

The Miami Herald reported that Mora will be considered for the job. Mora wiped out in his two previous NFL stints with Atlanta and Seattle, including a disastrous 2009 campaign with the Seahawks that saw him get fired after just one season even with three years and $12 million remaining on his contract.

NFL WEEK 17

Mora has since reinvented himself as UCLA’s head coach. The 29 games Mora won between 2012 and 2014 mark the highest three-season total in Bruins’ history. Mora was on the NFL radar for interviews last season and likely will be again in 2016.