This is the second in what will be a seven-part series detailing every head coaching change made in the NFL over the offseason. The first part can be found here. Today’s installment focuses on the Miami Dolphins and their new head coach, Cam Cameron.

By the time the Dolphins hired Cam Cameron from the San Diego Chargers (where he had been offensive coordinator), the high drama had already played out. By that time, Nick Saban had left them to return to the college game at Alabama, after repeated denials of being interested in coaching any team but the Dolphins. Dolphins fans were understandably rather displeased with his reversal, although Saban’s two-timing still isn’t as bad as that of another guy I’ll get to later this week. The newly-vacant coaching spot was shortly thereafter filled by Cameron, who had quite a bit of success in San Diego (understandable, with the talent they have). It’s unknown if he’ll be able to achieve similar things in Miami; they missed the playoffs in both of Saban’s years, with this article describing Miami as having “an aging defense and a feeble offense.” It just doesn’t seem to have quite the same kind of potential as, say the Cardinals under Ken Whisenhunt, with their young talent. Cameron seems to be a good coach, but Miami doesn’t appear to currently be such an attractive job. I’m lukewarm on this one.

Cameron has been a head coach once before – at Indiana from 1997 to 2001. There, he didn’t have much success, going only 18-37 over his five seasons. However, it’s hard to hold this too much against him, since no one in recent years has had very much success with Indiana football, and his 5-6 record in 2001 is as well as anyone has done there lately. He has plenty of NFL experience, having been the Chargers’ offensive coordinator for five years and the Washington Redskins’ quarterbacks coach for three years prior to going to Indiana. He was mentioned pretty often during the offseason as a top candidate for one of the available jobs, so he certainly didn’t come out of nowhere. According to the above-linked article, the other main candidates considered were Jim Mora Jr. (just fired by Atlanta), Dom Capers (fired after generally mediocre stints with the Panthers and Texans), Chan Gailey (fired after a mediocre stint with the Cowboys, currently in the midst of a mediocre stint at Georgia Tech), and Mike Shula (fired after a mediocre stint at Alabama). If that was the coaching pool the Dolphins were drawing from, then by all means they made the right decision. Cameron appears to me to be a solid coach who just about maximized the potential of a good situation in San Diego. Now, we have to see how he handles a not-so-great one.

There have been rumblings about Saban not necessarily treating his assistants too well; nothing I’ve heard about Cameron indicates he would be the same way. Obviously, this can only help him. What won’t help him so much is the cool reaction to the Dolphins’ draft. Their greatest need appeared to be quarterback, but with Brady Quinn on the board, they went for Ted Ginn, receiver from Ohio State. Ginn has been an explosive player and the Dolphins could use some playmakers, but he’s coming off an injury that knocked him out of the national title game, and he certainly wasn’t a Calvin Johnson-level receiver prospect. The pick certainly puzzled the multitude of Dolphins fans who booed when it was announced by Cameron. They did take a quarterback in the next round (John Beck of BYU), but he wasn’t one of the top shelf-level players in the draft. I kind of like their selection of running back Lorenzo Booker from Florida State in the third round – he may never play every down, but he has the potential to make some big plays.

The biggest reason they passed on Quinn may have been because they figured all along they were getting Trent Green to play QB (which they eventually did). Green has had a bunch of good seasons, but he is in the latter stages of his career, and the prospect of him playing now and Beck taking over later doesn’t provide the kind of buzz a Matt Leinart does. Also, neither Green nor Beck is as handsome as Leinart. Ronnie Brown is a pretty good running back, but not a superstar.  Defensively, the big mainstay is Jason Taylor, who’s actually coming off being named NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He’s one of the best in the league, and in addition the team signed linebacker Joey Porter away from the Steelers. However, those are the only real standout players I see on the defense, with Taylor being the only truly elite one. Not altogether horrible, but nothing too exciting, either.

Cam Cameron was not a bad hire. Relative to the rest of the people the Dolphins were considering, he was a good one. The word that keeps running through my mind is “solid.” Nothing necessarily wrong with it, but the whole situation just doesn’t seem to have the potential of others. in addition to the fact that they got jilted by their ex-coach, there’s not as much young talent as some other places,  he’s not one of the young hotshot coaches,  it’s not a “totally build from the ground up” type situation, but at the same time he doesn’t appear to be taking over a playoff-ready team either. It’s just middle of the road, and it’s harder to get excited about a situation like that than one like Whisenhunt’s with the Cardinals. This is not to say Cameron can’t succeed in Miami, but more retooling is going to need to happen before he can. For the time being, at least, it doesn’t look like Nick Saban will be missing too much.

The next installment, which will hopefully be out tomorrow, will examine the Atlanta Falcons and their new head coach, Bobby Petrino.

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