Quick, which coach has the best record in Miami Dolphins history?
No, it’s not Don Shula. Or Jimmy Johnson. Or … well, everyone else basically stunk, right?
It’s Todd Bowles. Bowles has a lifetime .667 mark with the Fish, winning fully two out of every three games and nosing out the immortal Shula’s .659 record.
Of course, Bowles only coached Miami for three games -- mentoring the team for the final stretch of its sorry 2011 season after Tony Sparano was axed. But still, Bowles’ very brief run was a rare bright spot for the Dolphins, who have languished the past two decades under the 10 head coaches (and you thought the Jets had a lot of turnover) who have roamed the sidelines since The (original) Donald stepped down after the 1995 campaign.
Bowles hasn’t matched his Miami record as Gang Green’s head coach, but, at 13-11 midway through his second season in New York, he’s still one of only three HCs in franchise history with a winning mark, joining Bill Parcells and Al Groh. Groh took the job after Bill Belichick said no thanks, then became one of the rare NFL head coaches to voluntarily leave the pro ranks for a college gig. Then again, let’s not forget, it is the Jets we’re talking about.
Bowles’ Jets travel to Miami this weekend desperately in need of a W against their hated rival. Of course, the home team -- now under first-year coach Adam Gase -- could also surely use one in the win column, as both teams are saddled with losing records (Jets: 3-5/Fish: 3-4) with the first half of the 2016 season essentially complete.
Not shockingly, given their records, neither the Jets nor the Dolphins are any good. Both are plagued by subpar quarterback play, neither has much of a defense and each turns the ball over far more than their opponents.
Miami, though, has the X factor: Jay Ajayi. After totaling just 117 rushing yards through the first five weeks of the season, the second-year RB (the 13th running back chosen in the 2015 draft) suddenly became an otherworldly force in the Dolphins’s last two games, which were both wins. After racking up 204 yards vs. Pittsburgh in Week 6, he one-upped himself the next game with a 214-yard performance against the Bills.
Can Ajayi keep it up? The Jets haven’t done much right this year, but they’ve been among the league’s best against the run. And it’s not like the Fish have been a strong running bunch over the course of the season. Before their last two games, they’d been averaging less than 80 yards on the ground.
The visitors will surely load the box vs. Ajayi, and if past history is any guide, QB Ryan Tannehill won’t be good enough to take advantage.
It’s not exactly a meeting of the elites. But it seems the Jets are just a bit less bad. They should get the win.