Adam Gase was relieved of his head coaching duties early Monday morning, less than 24 hours after the Miami Dolphins fell apart in a 42-17 loss at Buffalo, ending the 2018 season a frustrating 7-9. In three seasons at the helm, Gase compiled a total record of 23-25, including a postseason appearance in his debut season.
The ultimate search begins for the next head coach to lead a franchise that has been caught in mediocrity for over a decade and a half. Earlier Tuesday, one name was brought up: special teams coordinator coach Darren Rizzi. Rizzi is one of six head coaching candidates the Dolphins will sit down and interview between the next couple weeks, joining Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, New England Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak and Dallas Cowboys secondary coach Kris Richard.
Rizzi does not have any NFL head coaching experience, but previously paced the NCAA Division II Independent New Haven Chargers to a 15-14 record, from 1999-2001, and the Rhode Island Rams to a 3-9 mark in 2008. Earlier in a press conference during the regular season, when asked if he had any intentions to become a professional head coach, Rizzi offered some thoughts.
“It’s something that as I look forward in my personal career," He said. "It’s something that I want to do again down the road, to be a head coach again.”
Rizzi brings complete energy and passion to the table each and every day at work, and if the Miami Dolphins were to hire Rizzi to begin a rebuilding process, it may lead to success in the near future. The last special teams coordinator to move up to a head coaching job was Baltimore’s John Harbaugh, who has coached the Ravens since 2008.
Reports are also out that players in the locker room are lobbying for Rizzi to get the job, citing his coaching acumen and ability to relate to the players. Per the Palm Beach Post's Joe Schad, running back Kenyan Drake has high praise for Miami's special teams coordinator.
“Riz is the ultimate players coach." Drake said. "He has a way of balancing the personality of his players while getting the most from them. He’s intense but compassionate and that’s what makes him a great coach.”
Schad also cited linebacker Mike Hull, who echoed similar sentiments.
“He’s very thorough,” He said. “He makes great adjustments. He’s intense. He demands a lot of his players.”
Even players who are no longer with the team are throwing their hats into the ring, such as former Dolphins tight end Tim Semisch, who joined the Dolphins back in 2015 after a tryout.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher and Patriots’ Bill Belichick also worked their way from special teams coordinator to head coaching duties. Rizzi has been with the Miami Dolphins organization since 2010, working alongside former coaches such as the late Tony Sparano, Todd Bowles (interim), Joe Philbin, Dan Campbell (interim) and Adam Gase.
The Dolphins are one of eight NFL teams searching for a permanent head coach, along with the Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This story was written by Brandon Liguori. Follow him on Twitter: @BrandonRLiguori
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