Rejected by Jeff Fisher, the Miami Dolphins plan to interview several more candidates before hiring a coach, owner Stephen Ross said Friday.
Fisher turned down the Dolphins to accept the coaching job in St. Louis, the Rams confirmed Friday. Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland quickly hit the reset button in their search, but the rejection represented a major setback.
"It lasted a little longer than I would have liked," Ross said with a chuckle in a phone interview with the Associated Press. "We did everything we thought we could do. We were stretching. We made an offer better. We worked hard at it."
"The organizational structure I don't believe was an issue at all," Ross said. "I've always thought the relationship between the coach and general manager is a partnership, and we felt Jeff was fine with that."
Fisher, who coached the Titans franchise for 17 years, was Miami's first choice and widely considered the top prize on the NFL coaching market. Ross wanted to make a splash by hiring a coach who would reinvigorate the fan base, and Fisher offered the best chance to do that.
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Among the other candidates interviewed by the Dolphins, the only one with any NFL head coaching experience is Todd Bowles, thanks to his role as their interim coach for the final three games this season. Bowles has also been linked to the coaching vacancy with the Oakland Raiders.
"Jeff was great -- he had the experience that the other ones might not have," Ross said. "But it has always been my philosophy to hire young people who have a real desire to succeed, and that's what's out there. Hopefully there's a Hall-of-Fame coach we'll be talking to."
Other candidates interviewed by Miami have included Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and Chicago Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub. The search will now be expanded and may include other coaches still in the playoffs.
"We have continued to evaluate candidates even after we spoke with Jeff," Ross said. "We're excited about the candidates we're considering. They're outstanding in their own right. We'll continue with our plan, which will include interviewing several candidates more. I'm confident the process will result in the choice of the right coach to lead our team."
Darlington reported that the team already has an interview lined up for Saturday with an as-yet-unnamed candidate.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.