Posted by Will Brinson
When the CBSSports.com NFL newsletter landed in my inbox Wednesday, I thought there had to be some kind of mistake. After all, the topic was Les Miles, and he has nothing to do with the NFL, except that he coaches guys who will end up playing there.
As it turns out, my man Mike Freeman's excellent 10-Point Stance column was about Miles and how he's the "most intriguing coaching prospect" that one team exec has "seen in a long time." WUT?
Les Miles? Really? Because, um, yeah, that doesn't make sense.
Whatever, Miles is wacky but he wins a lot, so at some point, NFL teams will be interested. Let's run through some of the usual suspects -- teams who stink this season and/or teams that are always considered possibilities for head-coaching candidates -- and discuss whether or not they're viable candidates.
Miami Dolphins: Tony Sparano's seat is arguably hotter than anyone else in the NFL right now and he's got games coming up against the Chargers and Jets. Not being 0-5 would be an accomplishment if that tells you anything about where this season is going for the Fins. There's a good chance he doesn't make it through the season. So would Miles work?
Well, Stephen Ross wants to add some spice to Miami's public persona, and Miles would definitely do that. But is he gonna sexy up the offense? I'm not so sure -- LSU currently ranks 98th in the NCAA in passing yards and 48th overall in rushing yards. In 2010, Miles' team totaled 2,023 passing yards, which is like a September for Tom Brady. The most passing yards while Miles has been at LSU came in 2007, when Matt Flynn led the team with 2,407 yards and the Tigers totaled 3,154 yards for the season.
Oh, and there's this little bit of history -- remember the last time the Dolphins decided to go out and hire a championship-winning coach from LSU? That worked out superbly for them, and I can't imagine that there's a whole lot of love in South Beach for the Tigers coaching tree.
Kansas City Chiefs: There's a pretty good chance Todd Haley's gone by the start of next season, but is this the spot for Miles? Perhaps not -- after all, Scott Pioli's likely to get one more chance at hiring a coach he wants, and you can all but bet that he'll go off the Belichick tree.
Miles doesn't fit that role and it makes no sense for Pioli to really put his neck on the line by trying to bring in a college coach who isn't necessarily guaranteed to buy into his personnel system.
Dallas Cowboys: This isn't to even suggest that Jason Garrett's on the hot seat. He's not. But as Freeman wrote, people think Miles might be the "next Jimmy Johnson," and he coached in Dallas.
So did Miles, though he showed up to Big D after Johnson was gone and only coached tight ends there.
Still, Jerry Jones is always a guy that people associate with "big names" and he's the last guy to have success with a college coach who jumped up a level.
Oakland Raiders: Hue Jackson's doing a great job by the bay, but if a name is out there, he's going to get mentioned with Oakland, because that's how these things work. Plus, you never know if 2011's rendition is going to fall off a cliff or not. They are, after all, the Raiders.
But Miles has tremendous job security at LSU right now, and as we mentioned in the Miami section, he doesn't exactly fit the mold of what Al Davis wants in terms of chunking the ball down the field. Although he does coach in the SEC, so maybe the speed correlation works.
Indianapolis Colts: OK, so we've figured out that Miles isn't going to be a great offensive guru or anything, right? Well, this might actually make sense -- there's little in the way of requirement to be an offensive savant in Indy, as long as the Colts can squeeze three or more years out of Peyton Manning. He runs the system and Jim Caldwell just stands there.
Miles' biggest hair-pullers come on the offensive end of things in crunch time, and it would be a non-issue with Manning on the field. Additionally, he'd make the Colts substantially better on special teams and on defense, right off the bat, even if the personnel might need some revamping. He's a Michigan man and born in Ohio -- Indianapolis is less than a five-hour drive from both.
The Colts will be coming off a terrible season after 2011 and that means better resources to invest in future talent; Indy's a team that could nab the first-overall pick in the draft and somehow still remain a decent team.
Would it be a departure from the modus operandi of the Colts? Definitely, but there's a good opening to bring in a fresh face for 2011, and they seem to have less chance of having Miles' quirky traits, lack of offensive ingenuity and poor clock management implode on them than anyone else.
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