Today, former Titans head coach Jeff Fisher is interviewing with St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke for its vacant head coaching job.
Two days ago, he spent about four hours doing the same with owner Stephen Ross, general manager Jeff Ireland and former Chiefs president/Ross associate Carl Peterson at Miami Dolphins headquarters.
The national media big boys all agree that Fisher will choose between these two — and only these two — teams. And they all agree — save for Yahoo!’s Michael Silver — that St. Louis is the favorite.
In the meantime, local and national media have taken turns slamming the Dolphins for what is perceived as the latest display of incompetence and dysfunction by the franchise.
The catalyst of which was NFL.com reporter Jason La Canfora’s report claiming the Dolphins were conducting two separate coaching searches; one led by Peterson and another led by Ireland.
La Canfora also asserted that Peterson would not be present for Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub‘s interview and would officially join the team only if Fisher (and perhaps Jim Haslett) became head coach. And there has been speculation by Hank Goldberg that Peterson could bring in former Chiefs personnel man Bill Kuharich to replace Ireland, giving the impression to some that Ireland could be getting a new form of the ‘Tony Sparano Treatment’.
The involvement of Peterson, who worked for Ross in the USFL and is a partner in Ross’ Fan Vision product, has been a topic of speculation for more than a year. And each time, Ross and Peterson have shot down the reports (they have not yet addressed this one or Armando Salguero’s latest report that Peterson would be hired in the coming weeks).
Here’s the thing.
Jeff Fisher taking the St. Louis job might not be the worst thing in the world for the Dolphins, for a myriad of reasons. Fan concerns have included….
• His old-school, run-oriented approach to offense.
• Only 6 winning seasons in 17 as head coach of the Oilers/Titans.
• He is not the man who can get the Dolphins to a Super Bowl in this era of football.
Whether or not these are actual truths or demerits is not the point of this blog. The point is that Jeff Fisher might not be the end-all, be-all of coaching candidates for the Miami Dolphins.
But the media is and will absolutely make it out to be. If Fisher indeed chooses to coach the Rams, they will shape the public narrative by going on and on about what a clown car the franchise is, how they couldn’t overcome their own ineptitude and that Fisher wanted no part of it.
And therein lies the predicament we, the fans, are in.
Whether we truly want Jeff Fisher as head coach or not, many Dolphin fans have no doubt convinced themselves into coveting him simply because they’re tired of being beaten on and embarrassed by guys with microphones and an audience.
They’re tired of the media making their team out to be a joke. They’ve had their fill of pundits like Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio finding fault in Stephen Ross reportedly having no problem meeting whatever Jeff Fisher’s asking price will be. As if prospective coaches view an owner that’s willing to spend as a negative. Specifically a coach like Fisher, who served under cheapskate Bud Adams in Tennessee.
Obviously Jeff Fisher is candidate No. 1 for Stephen Ross. But the media has made it an all-or-nothing proposition.
Going back to the Peterson situation for a moment, leave it to long-time, respected South Florida journalist Dave Hyde offers a bit of sanity:
As it turns out, the truth of Carl Peterson’s role is he’s doing what Steve Ross said – and NFL people and media reports didn’t believe – all along. He’s not taking over the Dolphins as football czar, I was told by a source. He’s simply an adviser. He’ll remain a consultant. He’s helping his good friend, Steve Ross, and his former scout, Jeff Ireland, conduct the coaching search.
H. Wayne Huizenga realized football wasn’t his area of expertise, but wasn’t sure whom he could turn for advice. Steve Ross has decades of friendship and trust with a football man in Peterson.
It looked a bit odd that Peterson got out of the helicopter with Ross and Jeff Fisher for that interview in light of rumors swirling around the Dolphins that Peterson was going to be named president of football operations.
Turns out those were false rumors. And that explains a lot of the past several days. Peterson is involved as a sounding board. But this is Ireland’s and Ross’s decision when it comes down to it.
I thought it strange Peterson was playing such a prominent role in the interviews with no publicly defined role with the Dolphins. Now we know. He’s simply helping out his good friend and former protege. Considering the decisions to be made this off-season, why wouldn’t they get input from a trusted voice that’s made football decisions for decades?
This is essentially what Ross and Peterson have been saying all along. It doesn’t fit the narrative that a highly successful billionaire is a bumbling idiot incapable of learning from his mistakes and leading a cogent search to fill a management position.
If nothing else, Hyde’s words should serve as yet another reminder that we should not automatically accept what we read at face value. In the past three days, we’ve been told the following:
• the Dolphins have two men conducting to two separate coaching searches
• One of those men is not conducting a coaching search
• The Rams are the favorite because of Sam Bradford
• The Dolphins are the favorite, Jeff Fisher is not sold on Sam Bradford
• Fisher has reservations about the Dolphins
• Fisher came away highly impressed with the Dolphins
• Jeff Fisher/Carl Peterson are essentially a packaged deal
• Peterson was joining the Dolphins as team president, regardless of Fisher
• Peterson will not join the Dolphins
And they all cite those irrefutable ‘NFL sources’.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not convinced Stephen Ross is the party who doesn’t have his act together.