In the latest edition of “what could’ve been” from the offseason news cycle, Mike Tannenbaum, the former executive vice president of football operations for the Miami Dolphins from 2015 to 2018, revealed on the Ross Tucker Podcast just how close Dan Campbell was to becoming the Dolphins full-time head coach after his stint as the team’s interim coach during the 2015 season.
“So we hired Dan Campbell at Miami, and he was within a whisker of getting the job full time,” shared Tannenbaum, a current NFL front office insider for ESPN. “We hired him to be our interim head coach, and I think this guy came out of the womb being an NFL head coach.”
Campbell took over the Dolphins when Joe Philbin was fired after a 1-3 start to the 2015 season. In his 12 games as the team’s interim, Campbell led the Dolphins to five wins and seven losses, and apparently, nearly did enough to impress the powers that be to give him his first full-time NFL head coaching job. It would’ve been a meteoric rise for Campbell, nearly going from tight ends coach to full-time head coach in just six seasons with the Dolphins, but it wouldn’t have been because of his physical prowess.
“Dan is a physically-imposing guy. He’s all of 6-6, 260. He is rocked up, but he’s really smart. He has unbelievable relatability,” praised Tannenbaum in regards to Campbell’s coaching presence. “He has a unique ability to talk to an owner, and then the backup corner at the same time.”
When hired as the Detroit Lions head coach a little over two years ago, Campbell faced quite a bit of criticism and skepticism after his introductory press conference made headlines. Talk of “biting knee caps” in an effort to do whatever it took to win football games earned him the moniker of meathead from the national perspective, but after just two seasons in Detroit, Campbell’s coaching has played an immeasurable part in building a culture of accountability and effort this team had been sorely lacking in before his arrival. His authenticity and transparency has earned him respect from media, fans, coaches, and most importantly, his players.
“He wears his heart on his sleeve, he cares deeply,” said Tannenbaum. “He’s way smarter than people will ever give him credit for.”