MIAMI -- A punchless offence in the final two games kept the Miami Dolphins out of the post-season, and they'll have a new play-caller in 2014.
Offensive co-ordinator Mike Sherman was fired Monday, the first change by the team since the holiday collapse. Coach Joe Philbin defended Sherman the day after the season, but owner Stephen Ross was expected to demand some sort of shake-up following the dismal finish.
Sherman joined the Dolphins when Philbin was hired two years ago, and the two have been close for more than 30 years. But this season Sherman's unit ranked 27th in the NFL in yards, allowed a franchise-record 58 sacks and scored once in its final 24 possessions.
The Dolphins (8-8) would have made the playoffs if they had won one of their final two games against the Bills and Jets. Instead, they were beaten by a combined score of 39-7.
Other changes in Philbin's staff are possible, and offensive line coach Jim Turner's status remains in doubt. The line was the focus of a bullying scandal that mushroomed at midseason and left the Dolphins without two starters, and the NFL has yet to release a report on its investigation into the case.
Philbin thanked Sherman for his contributions in a brief statement announcing the firing.
"Mike has been a mentor to me throughout my coaching career, dating back to 1979," Philbin said. "He is a man of great integrity, dedicated to his family, his team, his players and his profession. On behalf of the entire Miami Dolphins organization I want to wish Mike and his family the very best in the future."
Sherman has a six-year relationship with quarterback Ryan Tannehill dating to their days at Texas A&M, where Sherman was Tannehill's head coach. Tannehill won the Dolphins' starting job in training camp as a rookie in 2012 and showed considerable progress this year until the final two games, when he played poorly.
"Coach Sherman and I have a great relationship," Tannehill said in a statement released by the Dolphins. "He has made significant contributions to the Dolphin organization, and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to play for him for the last six years. I learned so much about football and life in that time, and for that I am forever grateful."
While Tannehill threw for 3,913 yards and 24 scores this season, Sherman's play-calling came into question because of the team's pass-run imbalance. Miami passed the ball 65 per cent of the time, third-highest in the NFL, and had games where they rushed for 2, 14, 20 and 22 yards.
The Dolphins have missed the playoffs five years in a row and haven't won a post-season game since 2000. Philbin is 15-17 in his first head-coaching job.