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Josh McDaniels tops early list of Dolphins 2016 coaching candidates

Luring Josh McDaniels from New England would give the Dolphins an experienced head coach and weaken a rival. AP Photo/Elise Amendola

The Miami Dolphins became the first NFL team to fire their head coach this season after cutting ties with Joe Philbin on Monday.

Miami named tight end’s coach Dan Campbell as the new interim head coach. But the job will be open in January once the regular season ends.

Who will the Dolphins look to hire next year? Here is an early list of potential candidates:

No. 1 candidate: Josh McDaniels

Current team/position: New England Patriots offensive coordinator

Analysis: It’s going to be difficult for the Dolphins to pry Josh McDaniels from New England. He works every day with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady and annually competes for championships. McDaniels has arguably the best assistant coaching job in the NFL, and it will take an ideal head coaching opportunity for him to leave the Patriots. Miami, considering its track record of instability, is not an ideal job. But perhaps owner Stephen Ross can throw around enough money and be convincing enough to McDaniels to give the Dolphins a chance. McDaniels has many of the qualities Miami needs. He has a good football mind and has previous head coaching experience with the Denver Broncos. McDaniels looks ready for his second opportunity to lead a team. This also would be a double bonus for the Dolphins to add McDaniels and subtract from their biggest division rival.

No. 2: Eric Mangini

Current team/position: San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator

Analysis: When putting together a list of Miami coaching candidates, you must consider who has strong ties to Dolphins vice president Mike Tannenbaum, who will have a lot of say in this process. Tannenbaum hired Mangini in 2006 with the New York Jets and the pair worked together for three seasons, including two winning seasons in 2006 and 2008. They also remain good friends. Mangini took a leave of absence from coaching in 2011 to work as an NFL analyst for ESPN. But Mangini is back into coaching full-time and would like another opportunity to lead a team. Mangini is 33-47 as a head coach in two stops with the Jets and Cleveland Browns.

No. 3: Jim Schwartz

Current team/position: Free agent

Analysis: Another potentially influential voice in this process is Dolphins Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who just signed a $114 million contract this year and will be a building block for Miami for the foreseeable future. It’s too early to gauge how involved Suh will be -- or wants to be -- in the Dolphins' coaching search. He is not a vocal personality. Regardless, the Dolphins' brass would be wise to consider which head coach can get the most out of Suh and command his respect. Schwartz proved he can do both during his stint with the Detroit Lions. Suh was at his best under Schwartz, who has a strong defensive pedigree. Schwartz has a poor record (29-51) as a head coach. But it’s never a bad idea to make your best player happy, which improves his stock with the Dolphins.

No. 4: Campbell

Current team/position: Dolphins interim head coach

Analysis: Philbin’s plight was Campbell’s gain. Campbell got a golden ticket on Monday after being promoted from a tight end’s coach to Miami’s new interim head coach. Unlike most interim positions, Campbell has some time -- 12 games -- to prove his worth. Campbell essentially gets a three-month interview with the Dolphins. Campbell made it clear that he’s not thinking short term, and Ross confirmed Campbell is a candidate in 2016. Campbell has zero head coaching experience and inherits a big mess in Miami. So there are long odds. But Campbell brings a lot of energy and intensity, which is much needed in Miami.

No. 5: Doug Marrone

Current team/position: Jacksonville Jaguars offensive line coach

Analysis: Marrone is an interesting candidate for Miami because he has big positives and big negatives. Marrone did a solid job with the Buffalo Bills in two seasons from 2013-2014. He won nine games last season and had the Bills in playoff contention. Marrone knows the AFC East well, which is important for Miami, and proved he could successfully make the jump from the college ranks at Syracuse to coach the Bills. However, Marrone left Buffalo under questionable circumstances when he exercised a $4 million clause to get out of his contract. That rubbed a lot of Bills players the wrong way and word travels among the NFL player fraternity. Marrone must earn the trust of players again before leading another organization. He is trying to rebuild it this season as a position coach in Jacksonville, but it might be too soon for Marrone.