DAVIE, Fla. -- Unlike his boss, Bill Parcells didn't need to
go to Costa Rica. He stayed right at home and decided Cam Cameron
had to go, along with just about everyone else on the Miami Dolphins.
A year ago Thursday, Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga embarked on a
two-week coaching search that took him as far as Central America to
interview at least a dozen candidates.
Now the Dolphins are starting over.
Cameron was fired Thursday after winning only one game in his
first year as an NFL head coach. The move means Miami will have its
fifth coach in five seasons.
Such instability has contributed to the Dolphins' decline. This
season they lost their first 13 games and finished 1-15, the worst
record in franchise history.
Late last month, they brought in Parcells to run the
organization. He hired Jeff Ireland as general manager this week,
and they fired most of the coaching staff Thursday.
"They were struggling on both sides of the ball," Ireland
said. "Looking at it from afar, we've just got to put the right
person in place."
Parcells made the decision to fire Cameron in consultation with
Ireland, who spent the last seven years in player personnel with
the Dallas Cowboys.
Parcells, the Cowboys' coach in 2003-06, may tap the Dallas
pipeline again. The early front-runner to replace Cameron is
Cowboys assistant head coach Tony Sparano, who is scheduled to
interview Friday for the head coaching vacancy in Atlanta.
"Tony's an outstanding coach," Dallas head coach Wade Phillips
said this week. "He's got all the attributes, I think, to be a
head coach. He works well with people. His players play for him; I
think that's important. And he's a really sharp, sharp guy as far
as Xs and Os. And I think he'd work well certainly putting a staff
ESPN's Chris Mortensen has confirmed through sources that the Dolphins also will consider these five additional assistants as Cameron's successor:
• Maurice Carthon, Cardinals running backs coach
• Todd Haley, Cardinals offensive coordinator
• Mike Tice, Jaguars assistant head coach/tight ends
• Rex Ryan, Ravens defensive coordinator
• Leslie Frazier, Vikings defensive coordinator
All but two members of Cameron's coaching staff were also fired,
although some might be rehired by the new head coach, Ireland said.
Retained were assistant special teams coach Steve Hoffman and
linebackers coach George Edwards.
"I saw change coming, but to this extent?" Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell said, according to the Miami Herald.
Cameron was under contract through 2010. A perceived difference
in philosophy with the new regime ranked as a bigger factor in his
firing than Miami's 1-15 record, Ireland said.
"We just felt in order to move forward and not look back, we
needed someone in place who shared the same philosophical
compatibilities we shared," Ireland said. "We didn't really know
the guy that well. We were going to try to get someone that does
share those things, and we weren't completely sold that he did."
Ireland said the philosophy he and Parcells share involves
creating a culture of winning. That would be a change for the
Dolphins, who missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season,
extending a franchise record.
"We want strong character around here," said Ireland, who
added he'll have final say regarding all player personnel
decisions. "The vision of the team will be discipline, passionate
players, highly competitive. And we'll be a big team."
The search last year was the most extensive since the
franchise's first season in 1966, but Cameron quickly became a
disappointment. Until Miami beat Baltimore in overtime Dec. 16, he
was in danger of becoming the first NFL coach to go 0-16.
Throughout the worst season in team history, Cameron won praise
for maintaining a calm demeanor with the media and his players. But
as the losses mounted, players became coy when asked if they
believed in their coach.
Defensive end Jason Taylor, Miami's only Pro Bowl player, took a
neutral stance on the firing.
"We've had a difficult year, and it's one of those times when
it's a little unsettling,'' he said. "As a player on the team, you
can only control what you can, and for other things, you have to
let others do it.''
There apparently was an underlying reason for Taylor's neutrality.
Kicker Jay Feely, in an interview with ESPN Radio 760 on Thursday, said Cameron treated Taylor in a way that bothered some Dolphins players.
"Probably his one mistake, I think, was kind of taking on Jason and trying to diminish his role on the team, because [Taylor is] just a guy that gives you everything he's got," Feeley said in the interview, according to the Herald. "He was the defensive MVP, and that kind of left a bad taste in all of the players' mouths," Feely said. "Every first-year head coach is going to make mistakes like those when you come in because you're trying to establish yourself, you're trying to establish your authority over the team."
Cameron was hired after five years as offensive coordinator for
the high-scoring San Diego Chargers, and the Dolphins' offense
improved early in the season. But when John Beck became the third
starter at quarterback this year, the unit failed to score a
touchdown in three consecutive games, and the rookie returned to
Cameron took over a team that had gone 19-29 the previous three
years and was in decline following a series of bad drafts. Poor
depth made this season's wave of injuries catastrophic.
Running back Ronnie Brown led the league in yards from scrimmage
when he was sidelined for the season by a knee injury, and
quarterback Trent Green and linebacker Zach Thomas also went on
injured reserve. When 2002 NFL rushing champion Ricky Williams
returned from a suspension, he lasted only six carries before a
chest injury ended his season.
In addition, top receiver Chris Chambers was traded after six
The coach's office became a revolving door in 2004, when Dave
Wannstedt quit after nine games and was replaced by Jim Bates. Nick
Saban became the coach in 2005, but lasted only two years before
leaving for Alabama.
His departure was announced by Huizenga on Jan. 3, 2006. One
year later to the hour, Ireland was at the same lectern to discuss
the start of yet another coaching search.
"My commitment is to try to rebuild this franchise," Ireland
said. "It's a great chance for me, and it's a great chance for the
Dolphins, in my opinion."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.