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Late-season collapse could prompt a shake-up for Dolphins

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Following the Miami Dolphins' late-season collapse, owner Stephen Ross immediately began contemplating a possible organizational shake-up.

Ross has been meeting with his top advisors before deciding whether to fire anyone, two people familiar with the situation said.

One of the people said the meetings began Sunday night and will resume Thursday, and a decision could come then. That person said that during the Dolphins' loss Sunday to the New York Jets, Ross became so upset he turned away at one point because he could no longer watch.

Both people spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because discussions regarding a possible organizational shake-up have been private.

Second-year offensive coordinator Mike Sherman is considered the most likely to be fired, and sixth-year General Manager Jeff Ireland's job is also in serious jeopardy. Coach Joe Philbin is likely to return for a third season, the two people familiar with the situation said, but that's not a certainty.

The Dolphins, who finished 8-8, were on the verge of earning the final AFC wild-card berth before being outscored 39-7 while losing their last two games to the Buffalo Bills and Jets, two non-playoff teams. If the Dolphins had won either game, they would have made the postseason for the first time since 2008.

Miami had four victories over teams that made the playoffs but also lost three games to last-place teams. In addition to inconsistency on the field, Miami had its season nearly derailed by a locker-room bullying scandal that drew national scrutiny and remains under NFL investigation.

Ross is concerned about the impact of the late collapse on attendance, which has sagged during the playoff drought.

Grooming a quarterback may be Job 1 for O'Brien, Texans

Bill O'Brien worked closely with Tom Brady when he was a New England Patriots assistant.

He's now set to return to the NFL to coach Houston, and he's a long way from Brady. The Texans have the No. 1 draft pick, and O'Brien might well find himself having to groom a rookie quarterback.

Two people familiar with the negotiations, speaking to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because an official announcement hadn't been made, said Tuesday night that O'Brien reached an agreement to coach the Texans. He is expected to be introduced Thursday.

He inherits a team filled with talent but whose biggest problem is at quarterback. Veteran Matt Schaub, Houston's starter since 2007, was benched after six games. Case Keenum took over after that, but his lack of success showed he wasn't the answer either, and the team finished on a 14-game skid.

A number of talented quarterbacks could be available in May's draft. Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater is leaving school, and 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M and Fresno State's Derek Carr, younger brother of Houston's first-ever draft pick, David Carr, are among the other top-rated quarterbacks expected to be in the draft.

O'Brien spent 2007-12 as an offensive assistant under Bill Belichick at New England. O'Brien was the team's quarterbacks coach from 2009 to 2011, and Brady threw for 5,235 yards and 39 touchdowns in the 2011 regular season, when the Patriots went to the Super Bowl.

But his success with quarterbacks didn't begin or end with Brady.

In 2001 he was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Georgia Tech and worked with George Godsey. Godsey broke school records for yards passing (3,085) and completions (249) and led the ACC with 257.1 yards passing a game.

His success in grooming quarterbacks continued at Penn State in 2012. Under O'Brien's tutelage, senior Matt McGloin made remarkable improvement.

McGloin won the Burlsworth Trophy as the nation's best player who began his career as a walk-on, and signed with the Oakland Raiders, for whom he started six games in 2013.

Phillips want to stay with Texans

Wade Phillips couldn't persuade the Texans to make him their next head coach. He'd like to remain with the organization anyway.

Phillips told the Houston Chronicle on Wednesday he'd like to continue in his role as the team's defensive coordinator. A possible roadblock: He doesn't know incoming coach O'Brien.

Phillips, 66, was viewed as a major asset to the Texans during their 12-4 season in 2012. Despite the 2-14 finish this season, Houston still ranked seventh in the league in yards allowed.

McDermott to interview with Washington

Carolina Panthers Coach Ron Rivera said defensive coordinator Sean McDermott will interview for the Washington Redskins' head coaching position this week.

NFL rules mandate interviews with assistant coaches on a bye week must be conducted before the conclusion of the wild-card games. The Panthers (12-4) have a first-round bye.

The Redskins are looking to replace Mike Shanahan, fired Monday after a 3-13 season. Shanahan was 24-40 in four seasons.

McDermott, 39, joined the Panthers in 2011. His defense gave up the second-fewest points in the NFL and had a league-high 60 sacks.

Caldwell a candidate

Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell is expected to interview for the Detroit Lions' head coaching vacancy next week, according to Fritz Pollard Alliance Chairman John Wooten.

Wooten told the Baltimore Sun he expected Caldwell to interview with the Lions by Thursday. The Redskins had also asked for and been granted permission by the Ravens to interview Caldwell, Wooten said.

Wooten, who runs an organization that promotes diversity in NFL hiring, said he also expects former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith to interview in Detroit and with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Etc.

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was cleared to play in Saturday's wild-card playoff game against Indianapolis after sustaining a concussion. Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali and right tackle Eric Fisher might not be cleared to play.

Fisher hurt his groin near the end of practice Tueaday, and Hali has been dealing with swelling in his knee. Neither of them participated fully in Wednesday's workout.

Bowe sustained his concussion in a loss to the Colts two weeks ago at Arrowhead Stadium. He sat out Sunday's overtime loss at San Diego.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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