Breaking Down the Dolphins OC Candidates

The Miami Dolphins reportedly have zeroed in on six candidates in their search for a new offensive coordinator
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It has been a little over a week since Chan Gailey resigned as Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator, and the search for his replacement continues.

The list of candidates includes six names, including current Dolphins tight ends coach George Godsey and running backs Eric Studesville, according to a tweet by NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport.

The other candidates, according to Rapoport, are quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton of the Los Angeles Chargers and Matt Canada of the Pittsburgh Steelers, along with San Francisco 49ers run game coordinator Mike McDaniel and Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott.

Two other coaches who initially seemed like logical candidates were not mentioned: former Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn and former Texans head coach Bill O'Brien.

We examined the candidacy of both Godsey and Studesville in the aftermath of Gailey's resignation, so let's focus now on the four outside candidates mentioned by Rapaport. 

RELATED: Who's Next as Dolphins OC?

Matt Canada

Canada just finished his first season as an NFL assistant after working more than 20 years in the college ranks. Canada has plenty of offensive coordinator experience, having handled the role at Indiana, Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, North Carolina State, Pitt, LSU and finally Maryland, where he also served as interim head coach in 2018. Canada did not coach in 2019, but he passed on some opportunities a couple of years after being the highest-paid offensive coordinator in college football. His offenses set school records at Indiana in 2007, Wisconsin in 2012 and Pitt in 2016, and some of his concepts have been adopted by Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, as well as the Seahawks, Bears and Rams, according to a 2019 profile. Canada might not be a realistic candidate for the Dolphins, though, for the simple reason that the Steelers fired their own offensive coordinator, Randy Fichtner, on Thursday and very well might decide to promote Canada.

Pep Hamilton

Like Canada, Hamilton is coming off his first season with his current team, though he had plenty of prior NFL experience. Hamilton has prior offensive coordinator at both the collegiate (Stanford) and NFL levels (Colts) and served as assistant head coach for the Cleveland Browns in 2016 and the University of Michigan in 2017-18. Hamilton deserves a lot of credit for the work he did in 2020 with quarterback Justin Herbert, who's a leading candidate to win NFL Rookie of the Year honors. During his long coaching career, which began at Howard in 1996, Hamilton also worked with Andrew Luck (at Stanford and in the NFL) and with former Dolphins quarterbacks Chad Pennington (Jets, 2004) and Jay Cutler (Chicago, 2009). Hamilton also was head coach and general manager in 2020 of the D.C. Defenders of the short-lived XFL.

Mike McDaniel

At 37 years old, McDaniel is easily the youngest of the six candidates. He's also the only one who hasn't been an offensive coordinator or interim head coach at any level. McDaniel has been run game coordinator for the 49ers for the past four seasons after stints as an assistant with Houston, Washington, Cleveland and Atlanta, with two years as running backs coach for the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League thrown in. McDaniel is a disciple of Kyle Shanahan, having worked with him for all but one of his 13 seasons in the NFL — his first, in 2005, when he was an intern with the Denver Broncos. McDaniel is given a lot of credit for the success of the 49ers running game, which ranked second in terms of yards in 2019 when San Francisco made it to Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium.

Tony Elliott

Of the six candidates, Elliott is the only one who has never coached in the NFL. He's been at Clemson since 2011, was co-offensive coordinator from 2015-19 and took on the role by himself in 2020 after co-OC left to become head coach at South Florida. In 2017, Elliott earned the Bear Bryant Award as the top assistant coach in college football. During his time at Clemson, he helped the Tigers win the national title in 2016 with Deshaun Watson at quarterback and in 2018 with Trevor Lawrence. As a player, Elliott was a wide receiver who went from walking on at Clemson to being named a team captain as a senior in 2003. Elliott is the second-youngest candidate at 41. Reporter Josina Anderson also reported the Dolphins had reached out to Elliott, but that his preference was to remain at Clemson.

Whoever the Dolphins end up hiring will become the team's fifth offensive coordinator in five seasons, following Clyde Christensen in 2017, Dowell Loggains in 2018, Chad O'Shea in 2019 and Gailey in 2020.