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In Defense of Dan Campbell

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Well, it was fun while it lasted. 

The Dan Campbell Kool-Aid doesn't exactly taste the same as it did a month ago, for good reason: The recipe changed. The opposition got better, and the Dolphins' health got worse, and as a result, the team has plummeted back to where it was when he took over — helplessly flailing toward another lost season. 

What shouldn't change is how you view coach Campbell, because he did a tremendous job keeping a terminally ill patient alive a few weeks longer than expected. If anything, the last month has shown that the Dolphins have a valuable asset in Campbell — one other teams have in the past tried to steal and failed — and they should be in the process of trying to secure his services beyond this year, in some capacity. 

Campbell's first two wins — no matter what the level of competition — had Dolphins fans feeling better than they have at any point during the five years prior. Nobody saw those performances coming, but they happened on his watch. When they did, the national media took notice. Why? Because nobody had seen the Dolphins play that brand of football in forever, against anyone

When Campbell was thrown into the job as interim Dolphins head coach early last month, few expected anything to change — if anything, they were trending to worsen. The Dolphins at the time were riding a three-game losing streak — and even worse, losing in horrific, embarrassing, lifeless fashion. It's one thing to lose. It's a completely different thing to do so while looking like you're out of shits given. 

Enter Dan Campbell. 

Most people caught Dan Campbell's introductory news conference from their work desks. After it was over, they would have gladly flipped it over for him if he had asked. Campbell instantly made fans of a 1-3 team care again. They had no idea if he was full of it, but he seemed like he knew what he was talking about — and he damned sure was the opposite of Joe Philbin.

He was an instant hit. Players, fans, coaches, and especially the media loved him. Then he coached an actual game — and holy hell, did the Dolphins looked extra un-Dolphin-y. So many things went right in Campbell's first two weeks. The team was on fire. They whupped the Texans' asses so fast, it didn't even matter that they barely came out of the locker room in the second half.

There were Gatorade baths — think about that now — there were Gatorade baths happening during this Dolphins season. 

Then reality hit in the form of a semitruck named the New England Patriots, and it was all over. It remains over. It barely ever existed. 

And people were quick to say that Campbell "lacks talent." That he is a "wannabe." 

Oh, but was it fun while it lasted. This past Sunday against the Bills, the Dolphins looked every bit like the team Philbin coached — just as lifeless, just as inept. It's tough to figure out exactly why the team is so terrible this season, but one thing is for sure — it's not because of Dan Campbell. Campbell pushed all the right buttons at first. They just only had so much battery life to them. He's not a miracle worker, but he is a damned good football coach. 

Is he a damned good head football coach? Maybe. Time will tell. He's definitely someone who makes the Dolphins a better football team, that much is for certain. 

If the Dolphins are in the process of putting together a coaching search, let's hope they keep one thing in mind — they need to hold a chair for Dan Campbell.

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