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Parcells wants his own guy, so Cameron's out

1/3/2008 - Miami Dolphins
Cam Cameron's first season as an NFL head coach ended with his firing after a 1-15 season in Miami. Doug Benc/Getty Images

When Cam Cameron left his meeting Tuesday with Bill Parcells, the Dolphins' new executive vice president of football operations, he was hopeful of saving his job as head coach.

After all, Texas Tech basketball coach Bobby Knight -- a mutual friend of both parties and the coach when Cameron was a two-sport letterman at Indiana -- had put in a good word with Parcells. Out of respect for Knight, Parcells listened.

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In the end, however, Cameron didn't have a chance. Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga gave Parcells the authority to do what was needed to fix the Dolphins after a 1-15 season. Once Parcells hired his general manager, Jeff Ireland, it became apparent that he is planning on surrounding himself with people he knows and believes can turn the Dolphins into winners. (Click here for early list of potential names.) And Parcells didn't really know Cameron.

Still, there were other factors involved in Cameron's departure after one season.

Cameron, hired by Huizenga from candidate pool of hot list of assistant coaches last season after coordinating a Chargers offense that averaged 30.8 points a game in 2006, wanted to kick-start the Miami offense. So he traded for quarterback Trent Green, who was coming off a season plagued by concussion problems.

Whether it was age or the hangover of his previous injury, Green looked old and slow and couldn't spark the offense. That forced Cameron to make the best out of Cleo Lemon and second-round choice John Beck.

In addition, the decision to bypass Brady Quinn with the ninth overall pick in order to draft wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. in the first round and Beck in the second round didn't work out.

Although it's way too early to tell if Ginn and Beck will be failures or successes, Cameron and former general manager Randy Mueller pinned their reputations on those two players. Even with Beck on the roster, it's likely Parcells will be looking for more quarterback help in the offseason.

The failure to find anything close to the next Dan Marino has brought down every Miami coach since Don Shula. Jimmy Johnson had playoff teams but never found Marino's successor, and they both retired following the 1999 season. Dave Wannstedt squandered draft choices to fix the position but failed. Nick Saban tried for two years but left for college without solving the problem.

The past few years, the Dolphins have traded more than an entire draft's worth of choices in hopes of finding the right quarterback. But moves to acquire guys such as Cade McNown, Sage Rosenfels, A.J. Feeley, Daunte Culpepper, Joey Harrington, Lemon and Green have not panned out.

Instead, those failed decisions robbed the Dolphins of young players to fill the rest of the starting roster and dropped them to the bottom of the league.

Parcells is a bottom-line evaluator. Under Cameron, the Dolphins offense went from 16.1 points a game to 16.3, hardly a big leap forward. Parcells didn't doubt Cameron's ability to call plays. He didn't doubt the good things Knight had to say about Cameron and his integrity.

But Cameron's one-year of NFL head-coaching experience didn't offer the hope of scoring at a playoff level, so it was inevitable Parcells had to get his own coach.

John Clayton, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame writers' wing, is a senior writer for ESPN.com.