“I’m looking for somebody who can really be motivational and inspire the players to play to get the best out of them, that’s very intelligent and that really will change the culture here,” Ross said after the Dolphins’ 20-10 season-ending victory against the New England Patriots. “Somebody who can really make sure that when you walk into this locker room you intend on winning a football game. I think you have to have that kind of attitude and the players want to really respond to somebody like that. And the biggest thing here is we’ve got to change the culture. People can’t be sitting around waiting for something to happen or some mistake or something like that.”
Ross said he would like to have a new coach in place “sooner than later,” in part because he anticipates that several teams around the league will be in the market for a new head coach.
Ross said prior NFL head-coaching experience isn’t necessarily a requirement.
“Today it’s very hard, as you know, to find somebody with a lot of prior NFL head-coaching experience,” Ross said. “You take some of the great coaches, they had to start somewhere and they’ve done great. So you can’t say that you have to have NFL experience to be a great head coach. That would help, but the great ones are all under contract and I can’t really negotiate with them or try and lure them to Miami unfortunately.”
Ross indicated that Interim Head Coach Dan Campbell will be among the candidates. “I love Dan Campbell,” Ross said. “He is great.”
The bottom line for Ross is finding someone who can help him fulfill his dream of bringing a Super Bowl title to Miami.
“I told the players that I’m committed to winning Super Bowls and that’s why I own the team,” Ross said. “And for those who stay, we’re going to be winning Super Bowls. If you look at our organization today and you see what we’ve done from every aspect except on the playing field, we’re probably the first-class organization in the National Football League.
“My commitment is there to really take us to where we’re winning Super Bowls. So we’re going to be entering a search now and hopefully we’ll come in with the right team to really take these guys ... you see what they’re capable of. You can go on today, New England had something to play for and we really dominated this game. That was very encouraging and hopefully it’ll carry on through the rest of ’16 and beyond.”
Dolphins players have been vocal in their support of Campbell and their endorsement for him to get the job on a full-time basis, and that certainly didn’t change after the season-ending victory against New England.
“If it’s my choice, I want Dan Campbell as my head coach next year,” tackle
Others giving Campbell their endorsement included linebacker
As a reporter began asking whether Campbell was the guy who can get the Dolphins to the playoffs, Sheppard interrupted with an emphatic answer.
“I truly believe that, without a doubt,” Sheppard said. “It would be my honor to play under Coach Dan Campbell, a guy that stands for everything he stands for. He reminds me of myself but in a coaching form. I’ll go to work with a guy like that no matter the record, no matter the time, no matter the day.”
And then there was this from Landry: “He’s an excellent coach, excellent coach. I’d love to have him back, but at the same time I don’t make those decisions. But if I had to be the guy to stand on the table for him, I would.”
Three days after winning the team’s Ed Block Courage Award, tackle Branden Albert finished his second season with the Dolphins on a high note.
Albert played a key role in helping the Dolphins finish with 438 total yards, the team’s second-highest total of the season behind the 503 yards against the Houston Texans.
“Man, a lot of people doubted me,” Albert said. “I was banged up; that’s all I hear. That’s all I see people writing about Branden Albert. I finished. And I finished stronger than I started. That was the whole point. So I proved people wrong once again and I’m going to keep proving people wrong. And I do it for myself and for this team. You ask
With Albert’s help, the Dolphins offensive line provided good protection for Ryan Tannehill against New England. Tannehill was sacked only once, matching the lowest total allowed in a game this season.
“We did a good job protecting him,” Albert said. “The offensive line was in tune. We were making the calls that were necessary. We all helped each other and Ryan did a good job getting the ball out and guys got open.”
After finishing the season injured reserve, this time Wake was asked about the future and not the just-completed game.
And when the question was about his confidence level that he can be the same player he was before his season-ending Achilles injury, Wake didn’t hesitate: “100 percent,” he said. “Because I am me.”