Joe Philbin fired his coaching mentor Mike Sherman, and now must find another offensive coordinator to jazz up the Miami Dolphins' out of tune offense.
Sherman's removal comes as no surprise considering owner Steve Ross wanted Philbin to make changes to a Dolphins offense that had struggled all season, and failed to produce the up-tempo style Philbin initially promised to deliver when he was hired as head coach in 2012.
Sherman's removal is an indicator that General Manager Jeff Ireland and Philbin likely will be retained at least one more season. But the job security of a few other assistants, like offensive line coach Jim Turner, remains on shaky ground.
The Dolphins finished 2013 ranked 27th in total yards per game, 26th in rushing yards per game, 28th in net passing yards per play, 30th in sacks per passing play, 29th in first downs per game, and 26th in points per game. The team also set a franchise record for sacks allowed (58) in a season.
But the most troubling part of Sherman's failures was his unit scored only seven points with a playoff berth on the line in the season's final two games. The Dolphins (8-8) needed to beat either the Buffalo Bills or the New York Jets and the entire team fell flat.
"I would like to thank Mike for his contributions to the Miami Dolphins," Philbin said in a prepared statement. "Mike has been a mentor to me throughout my coaching career, dating back to 1979. He is a man of great integrity, dedicated to his family, his team, his players and his profession."
Sherman coached and taught Philbin in high school, and gave Philbin his first job as an NFL assistant when he made him the Packers assistant offensive line coach back in 2003.
Sherman has also been the only coach that has worked with quarterback Ryan Tannehill since high school. Tannehill played for Sherman at Texas A&M, and then spent his first two seasons with him in Miami. Sherman's offense is the only one Tannehill has ever known.
"I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to play for him for the last six years. I learned so much about football and life in that time, and for that I am forever grateful," said Tannehill, who produced a 81.7 passer rating in his second season as an NFL starter, improving on his 76.1 passer rating as a rookie.
Replacing Sherman won't be easy for Philbin considering he's viewed as an NFL coach presently on the hot seat in 2014. However, there are qualified candidates like former Browns coach Rob Chudzinski, former Chargers coach Norv Turner, former Rams coach Scott Linehan, former Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and former Texans coach Gary Kubiak, who are presently looking for work.
It is also possible Philbin could find someone from the college ranks, or promote an NFL position coach to the position of coordinator.
Packers quarterback coach Ben McAdoo was mentioned as a possible candidate. McAdoo worked under Philbin in Green Bay, serving as the Packers tight end coach before being promoted to quarterback coach in 2012 when Tom Clements was promoted to offensive coordinator to replace Philbin.
Philbin, who has an offensive background, could also decide to call his own plays. But that possibility should be viewed as a long shot considering he never called plays during his tenure as the Packers' offensive coordinator from 2007-11.
The last time a Dolphins coach replaced his offensive coordinator during his tenure it was Tony Sparano, who replaced Dan Henning with Brian Daboll. That next season the Dolphins started out the year losing seven straight games before rebounding to win 6 of 9. But the 2011 offense finished 20th in points per game and 22nd in yards per game that year, which involved Sparano being fired with a month left in the season.
This move could either be the catalyst that ensures Philbin's tenure with the Dolphins isn't cut short, or seals his fate if the offense can't get into gear.
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