Should the Dolphins fire Tony Sparano?

Tony Sparano is currently in the third year with the Dolphins, which is right around the time front offices start to get antsy about the development of their teams.

Sparano made the playoffs in his first year with Miami but the Dolphins haven’t shown much improvement since. Their defense got remarkably better under new coordinator Mike Nolan, but the offense has been a disaster under playcaller Dan Henning. In fact, only the 2-13 Panthers have scored fewer touchdowns (16) than the Dolphins (25) this season.

Speculation is running rampant that Sparano will be fired by“Black Monday” of next week. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said that Sparano’s last game with the Dolphins will be this Sunday, although NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi reports that Bill Parcells has convinced owner Stephen Ross to keep Sparano for at least another season.

But if they do fire Sparano, whom will the Dolphins hire as his replacement? Some rumors state that Bill Cowher’s second choice after coaching the Giants would be the Dolphins, but thus far there haven’t been any hard facts to support those claims. And if Cowher doesn’t want to take his talents to South Beach, then the Dolphins could be stuck with either another first-year head coach or a Josh McDaniels-type retread. Would someone like McDaniels really be an improvement over Sparano?

There isn’t just one thing wrong with the Dolphins – it’s a collection of issues that are holding them back. First and foremost, they need a consistent quarterback because Chad Henne isn’t it. They have scattered talent in Brandon Marshall, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, but this team lacks an identity offensively. The defense has been fixed, but what happens if Sparano is let go? What happens to Nolan (who is behind Miami’s resurgence on defense)? If the Dolphins fix one leak, they may spring two more.

Of course, Sparano has done very little to prove that he deserves to keep the job. His decision-making (particularly late in games) has been questioned several times this season and he shows an unwillingness to adjust and adapt. Miami’s fourth quarter collapse last week against Detroit didn’t help, nor did its massive struggles this year at home.

The bottom line is that the Dolphins’ brass has a tough decision to make regarding their head coach position. Miami doesn’t want to waste another year if Sparano isn’t the right man for the job but as of now, it doesn’t have any clear-cut choices to replace him either.

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