The Miami Dolphins' search for a new offensive coordinator continues as the divisional round of the playoffs arrives, but the list of identified candidates continues to dwindle.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterbacks coach Matt Canada was one of those candidates, and he even reportedly interviewed for the position, but word came Saturday that he was instead going to be promoted to offensive coordinator by the Steelers.
We suggested a few days ago this was the most likely scenario for Canada, who is very highly regarded, because of the Steelers' long-standing practice of promoting from within instead of hiring outside the organization.
This followed earlier reports that another candidate, Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, had declined to interview because of his desire to remain in college football.
That would leave two of the four identified outside candidates, Chargers quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton and 49ers run game coordinator Mike McDaniel, along with two current members of the Dolphins staff, tight ends coach George Godsey and running backs coach Eric Studesville.
Hamilton is coming off his first season with his current team, though he had plenty of prior NFL experience. He 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.
At 37 years old, McDaniel is the youngest of the candidates and 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.
Godsey was more than tight ends coach in 2020 because he did a lot of work, including on game days, with Tagovailoa after quarterbacks coach Robby Brown missed some time because of COVID-19 issues.
Head coach Brian Flores downplayed that aspect late in the season, but Godsey also offers previous offensive coordinator experience after handling that role for the Houston Texans in 2015-16.
Godsey's offenses ranked 19th and 29th in total yards and 21st and 28th in scoring, but it should be pointed out his starting quarterbacks for those two seasons were Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden, T.J. Yates, Ryan Mallett, Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage — none of them with a career passer rating higher than 82.1.
One of the rare assistants that Flores retained when he took over as head coach, Studesville does not have coordinator experience, but he did serve as interim head coach for the Denver Broncos for the final four games of the 2010 season after Josh McDaniels had been fired.
Flores spoke highly of Studesville during a conference call with Denver media prior to the Dolphins game at Empower Field at Mile High in November.
“Yeah, Eric’s phenomenal," Flores said. "I think he’s a phenomenal coach. He’s a phenomenal teacher, communicator. He’s someone I’ve leaned on in different situations over the last 18 months since I’ve been here. Obviously he was here before I was here and we kept him on the staff. Just as far as the lay of the land here in Miami, he’s been someone that I’ve been able to lean on. I think he’s a great coach. I think he’s got a coordinator and head-coaching future. I think the players gravitate to him. They listen. He’s a very, very good coach.”
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.
One assistant coach who has a new job is former defensive line coach Marion Hobby, who officially joined the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday.
The Dolphins announced a few days after the regular season finale that he was leaving in a mutual parting of the ways after spending two seasons in Miami.
Hobby, of course, coached Shaq Lawson and later Christian Wilkins during his time at Clemson.
CAMPBELL ABOUT TO GET HIS SHOT?
Five years after he was bypassed in favor of Adam Gase to become Dolphins head coach, it appears Dan Campbell is about to get his opportunity.
Multiple reports are suggesting he's the front-runner to become next head coach of the Detroit Lions, a team for which he played before beginning his coaching career.
Campbell served as Dolphins interim head coach for the final 12 games of the 2015 season after the team fired head coach Joe Philbin with a 1-3 record. Though Campbell finished with a 5-7 record that year, he still showed promise as a potential future head coach, namely in terms of his leadership ability.
Former Dolphins defensive tackle Earl Mitchell certainly endorsed Campbell, who is in his fifth season as assistant head coach/tight ends coach with the New Orleans Saints.
In his first two games as Dolphins interim head coach, the Dolphins won 38-10 at Tennessee and 42-26 at home against Houston after taking a 41-0 halftime lead.
Campbell will have to prove himself in terms of his game-day management, but if does end up as coach of the Lions, expect his teams to play hard all the time.
For those wondering, the Dolphins are next scheduled to face the Lions in 2022 in Detroit.