Bowles: 'I'm not trying to be Don Shula'

DAVIE, Fla. -- Wednesday marked the first day of the Todd Bowles era with the Miami Dolphins.

Most likely the era will be a short one. But that won't stop Bowles, who replaces Tony Sparano as interim head coach, from trying to get the most out of Miami (4-9) in its final three games.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross confirmed this week that Bowles will be a candidate for the job in 2012. Bowles is a long shot. But this is a showcase for Bowles to prove he's head-coaching material, even if that's not his primary focus.

"Believe me, this is not about me," Bowles said. "I'm not trying to be Don Shula. I'm trying to win football games, and we have guys in place here to win football games. I just have to make sure I manage the game smartly."

Bowles is soft-spoken but poised. Players like tailback Reggie Bush said he barely heard a word from Bowles all season until he addressed the team on Wednesday.

Bowles' message was to keep playing hard because everyone is being evaluated. Bowles also is good friends with Sparano and wants the team to win these final three games for Miami's former head coach.

"He's not here, and I think it would mean a lot to him," Bush said of Sparano. "And knowing him and not even having to talk to him, I know he would want to same thing."

Bowles' coaching ability will have a lot to do with that. He will make his debut Sunday against the Buffalo Bills (5-8), who have lost six games games in a row.

It's not an ideal situation for Bowles. There will be a lot of speculation and rumors circulating around Miami's future in the coming weeks. But Bowles' job will be to keep the team focused and motivated.

"Well, I don't think you can get a head job from a 14-2 team, so the circumstances are different," Bowles said. "Me and Sparano are extremely tight. Moving forward, we have a very tough team. We've been in every game as far as that's concerned. I want to make sure we finish that way.

"There's no playoffs to look forward to, but we're in a three-game season."