Here’s the latest installment of our Miami Dolphins Q&A, where South Florida Sun Sentinel writers David Furones and Chris Perkins answer questions from readers.
Q: David, enjoy reading/watching your content. Question, why haven’t I heard anyone mention the fact Miami hasn’t fired their Special Teams coach? That’s shocking to me. I think him getting fired is, at least, as warranted as the Boyer firing. But I haven’t see anyone discussing this. Thoughts? — Ross S., via email
A: Most on the outside believed special teams coordinator Danny Crossman was just as likely to be shown the door as defensive coordinator Josh Boyer. Yet, Crossman survived last week’s announcement of cuts while Boyer — along with safeties coach Steve Gregory, outside linebackers coach Ty McKenzie and assistant linebackers coach Steve Ferentz — were relieved of their duties.
We’re now a week removed from that release, and the further we get from it, the more it feels like that’s the extent of the Dolphins’ own firings on the coaching staff. Those listed are the coaches we know, up to this moment, won’t be back next season, regardless of where they stood in their contracts.
Miami’s special teams struggles were well-documented: The Dolphins gave up several long kick and punt returns. On their end, they never got much in their own return game — outside of, say, Cedrick Wilson Jr.’s 50-yard punt return in the AFC wild-card playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Kicker Jason Sanders had an up-and-down year with costly misses among his 26-of-32 campaign that also saw three failed extra points. He did, however, kick Miami into the playoffs with his 50-yarder against the New York Jets in Week 18 after missing four from such distance.
There were other blunders on special teams, notably the infamous “butt punt,” which nearly cost Miami the 21-19 Week 3 win over the Bills when punter Thomas Morstead — a bright spot otherwise — had his punt from the team’s own end zone ricochet off the backside of upback Trent Sherfield and out through the back of the end zone for a touchback.
Like Boyer, Crossman had a fair share of excuses with injuries. Key special teamers either missed time or had to contribute more than expected on offense or defense, altering some of his units.
Maybe coach Mike McDaniel looks at the field of available replacements and doesn’t see anyone as an upgrade over Crossman. Maybe McDaniel hires a new coordinator for special teams and keeps Crossman in a demoted role (see former offensive line coach Lemuel Jeanpierre last year). Maybe there’s some communication between them encouraging him to look elsewhere, while not announcing him as fired to save face.
Or maybe McDaniel just likes Crossman’s coaching style and process, and he feels his coordinator will deliver better results next season.
Q: Would you prefer a first year DC or someone with experience? — @eric__jf on Twitter
A: I’d personally prefer an experienced, veteran defensive coordinator that McDaniel can just hand the keys to the defense and know that side of the ball has its own head coach-like voice for the unit. Such a candidate can also provide support for McDaniel in leading the overall operation while McDaniel is free to leave his fingerprints all over his offense.
Okay, that’s a lot of words to simply say I prefer Vic Fangio as the hire. Fangio was McDaniel’s top choice when he was hired last offseason, but he was told to retain Boyer, according to reporting from our Dave Hyde. Now, he’s got his chance to get his guy.
That’s not to say the other three candidates currently interviewing for the role — Seahawks’ Sean Desai, Saints’ Kris Richard and Dolphins linebackers coach Anthony Campanile — wouldn’t be excellent hires. But Fangio’s résumé has earned him the perception as the top choice here.
Q: In order for Miami to be more successful next season than this season what are your top 5 must do’s for the Dolphins aside from Tua being able to stay on the field? — Dan Giunta on Twitter
A: I’ll keep the answer brief (and yes, taking all the necessary measures to give quarterback Tua Tagovailoa every chance to remain healthy next season would be high on this list):
1.) Hire the right defensive coordinator and other assistants to fill out the staff; 2.) Clear cap space with restructured deals, trades, cuts, other maneuvers to regain flexibility; 3.) Extend Christian Wilkins to lock him up as a franchise cornerstone to lead the defense through the rest of the decade; 4.) Find fits at cornerback, linebacker, tight end, right tackle and maybe a running back through free agency or the draft; 5.) Secure the backup quarterback position in order to be prepared if Tagovailoa again has to miss time.
Q: Do you think McDaniel would consider (or should he) delegate some of his game-day head-coaching duties? I believe Gase did that with his Assistant Head Coach and I don’t remember him having issues with play calling, timeouts, challenge flags… — @anthonyrockk on Twitter
A: McDaniel most certainly has to make some change to his game-day operation after it was exposed at the most critical time, a playoff loss. His tone in addressing it after the season sure makes it seem like he will attack it head-on.
He should find a better balance with delegation as he may have thought he could handle too much himself as an enthusiastic, first-year head coach.
I don’t think McDaniel will want to sacrifice play-calling duties, as he takes pride in that aspect — maybe too much, at times, trying to come up with the perfect play instead of just getting the call in in a timely manner. The packages, formations and motions may have to get simplified in key moments where the team can’t afford a slip-up.
He surely needs to address his replay review system after starting 0 for 5 on challenges before getting his first one overturned deep in the regular-season finale.
Have a question?
Email David Furones, or tag @ChrisPerk or @DavidFurones_ on Twitter.
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