Dolphins' top candidates unproven as head coaches

Kris Richard and Brian Flores are considered top candidates in the Dolphins' coaching search.

Photos: Kris Richard, left, and Brian Flores are respected assistant coaches seeking first head jobs. (USA Today)

One week into the search for the next Dolphins coach, the list of candidates is narrowing.

It will go on a while if their interest is genuine in Kris Richard, the Cowboys’ secondary coach, and or Brian Flores, the Patriots’ linebacker coach and de facto defensive coordinator, as indicated by various reports.

Whispers of owner Steve Ross’ interest in John Harbaugh, who remains the Ravens coach, persist. It’s very much a long shot he’ll end up in South Florida.

In the absence of other high-profile candidates, it seems likely new Dolphins football czar Chris Grier will be trying to identify the next first-time head coach success story – this year’s Matt Nagy.

Tough to forecast success

There is no doubt that Richard, Flores and others the Dolphins have or will interview, including their own special teams leader Darren Rizzi, are knowledgeable football minds and respected leaders.

Success in the step from assistant to head coach is difficult to foresee. The Dolphins thought they had that next whiz kid in Adam Gase, and they just fired him after he failed to elevate the franchise in three seasons at the helm.

As defensive backs coach with the Seahawks, Richard was the fulcrum behind the “Legion of Boom” secondary that was central to Seattle appearing in back-to-back Super Bowls. The notion of him working with Minkah Fitzpatrick and Xavien Howard is intriguing.

Picking Flores would be tapping into Patriots success. The son of Honduran immigrants who grew up in Brooklyn, Flores has spent 11 seasons on Bill Belichick’s staff.

Can't afford another whiff

After so many misses over the past two decades, pressure is on Grier to get it right this time.

It remains to be seen who Grier selects – and just as important whether his first choice is agreeable to taking on the challenge of getting the Dolphins back on track if presented with other options.

That is by no means a given.

Craig Davis has covered South Florida sports and teams, including the Dolphins, for four decades. Follow him on Twitter @CraigDavisRuns