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Grantland: Weight of the interim label

The Patriots made short work of Dan Campbell's Coach of the Year campaign on Thursday night, handing Miami's interim coach his first defeat with a 36-7 rout in Foxborough. There's no shame in losing to the undefeated Patriots, of course, and Dolphins fans have to be encouraged with how their team has responded under Campbell after getting off to a sleepy 1-3 start under deposed former coach Joe Philbin. There's still plenty of time to observe Campbell and figure out whether he's the right man for the job, but he's certainly shown enough promise early as an interim coach to engender thoughts about giving him the permanent gig at the end of the season. Is that a good idea?

It's weirdly both somehow fair and unfair to be an interim coach in the NFL. The disadvantages, of course, are obvious. You're taking over in midseason with limited ability to change schemes and install new concepts. While most interim coaches are already on staff and therefore already familiar and comfortable with the people around them, there's virtually no way to dramatically change your personnel on or off the field in the way that you can while taking over as a permanent coach during the offseason. You're also almost always taking over a team that is demoralized, with little hope of competing the rest of the way. The cards are stacked against you.

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