|Cameron's job could be in jeopardy if Dolphins go winless|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 10 December 2007 13:44|
``I'm not a worrier,'' he said. ``I don't go down that road.''
Maybe that's why Cameron appeared remarkably relaxed Monday. He even cracked a hint of a smile a couple of times.
Most coaches would be ready to explode or implode. An 0-13 record tends to have that effect. But Cameron calmly repeated the pledge to perseverance that has become his mantra.
``We've said it all along: We're not in the position we want to be in,'' he said. ``But we have to face it. We need to deal with it. We need to attack it.''
The clock is running. Cameron has been on the job nearly 11 months and still seeks his first victory, which raises a question: How much longer does he have with the Dolphins?
His job may be in jeopardy after only one season if he becomes the first coach to go 0-16.
``We are all in this thing together,'' Cameron said.
But his future may hinge on his players, a scary proposition because the team that may be remembered as the most woeful in NFL history seems to be getting worse.
The Dolphins have lost their past two games by a combined 78-30. In Sunday's 38-17 loss at snowy Buffalo, Miami had a franchise record eight fumbles and tied a team record by giving up 24 points in the first quarter.
The defeat was Miami's 16th in a row - a season's worth.
``Obviously it hasn't gotten easier,'' Cameron said.
The Dolphins are last and least in the league by such a wide margin they're already virtually assured of the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft for first time.
Owner Wayne Huizenga last spoke to the media in October, when he said Cameron had done a ``great job'' keeping the team together and the atmosphere positive despite an 0-7 start. But Huizenga must be alarmed by the direction of a franchise that has become a national punch line.
Cameron is under contract through 2010. Firing him would acknowledge Huizenga made a bad decision choosing Cameron over at least 12 other candidates after a two-week coaching search, the most extensive since the franchise's first season in 1966. Cameron's departure would add to the instability of a franchise that has had four coaches in the past four seasons.
But other coaches - including some good ones - have been fired after only one season with a team. The list includes Cameron's mentor Marty Schottenheimer (Washington in 2001), Art Shell (Oakland in 2006) and Pete Carroll (New York Jets in 1994).
Also uncertain is the future of general manager Randy Mueller, who with Cameron has made several key personnel decisions that have yet to reap much benefit. That includes the acquisitions of veterans Trent Green and Joey Porter, and the selections of rookies Ted Ginn Jr. and John Beck.
Mueller said he and Cameron receive encouraging signals from ownership.
``The support we've gotten from Wayne Huizenga and (team president) Bryan Wiedmeier has been awesome,'' Mueller said in this week's issue of Dolphin Digest. ``It's a grind, but I really believe we will be good here in the not-too-distant future.''
First the Dolphins must win a game, and three chances remain to avoid the NFL's first 0-16 season.
Miami is at home Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens (4-9), who have lost a franchise-record seven consecutive games. Then comes a game at New England (13-0), where the Dolphins will try to pull off the biggest upset in league history. They conclude the miserable season Dec. 30 at home against Cincinnati (5-8).
``You have to step up when times are tough and shoulder it,'' Miami defensive end Jason Taylor said. ``That's what we're trying to do now.''
Cameron has maintained his consistently low-key demeanor with the media and his team since the summer. The even-keel approach won praise from the locker room during training camp, but lately players have been coy when asked if they believe in Cameron.
``I'm leaving that whole topic alone, dude,'' cornerback Will Allen said. ``He's the head coach.''
Cameron was hired after five years as offensive coordinator for the high-scoring San Diego Chargers, and the Dolphins' offense showed improvement early in the season. But when Beck became the third starter at quarterback this year, the unit failed to score a touchdown in three consecutive games, and the rookie was benched after eight snaps Sunday.
Cameron said he'll evaluate the situation this week before deciding whether to start Beck or Cleo Lemon against the Ravens.
Cameron took over a team that had gone 19-29 the previous three years and was in decline following a series of bad drafts. Poor depth made this year's wave of injuries catastrophic.
Running back Ronnie Brown led the league in yards from scrimmage when he was sidelined for the season by a knee injury, and Green and linebacker Zach Thomas also went on injured reserve. Top receiver Chris Chambers was traded after six games, and when 2002 NFL rushing champion Ricky Williams returned from a suspension, he lasted only six carries before a chest injury ended his season.
Five starters were inactive Sunday because of injuries. But as always, Cameron declined to complain about the team's lousy luck.
``We're obviously faced with some adversity,'' he said. ``That's not unique to any of us. That's what we continue to draw on with our guys: `We're all being tested. Don't give in.'''
He sounded only a little worried.