Originally created 02/08/00

Shula joins Dolphins as QB coach



DAVIE, Fla. -- Trying to connect the team's present with its championship past, the Miami Dolphins hired Mike Shula as quarterbacks coach Monday.

Shula, the son of former Dolphins coach Don Shula, will help new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey revamp the offense. The move completes coach Dave Wannstedt's staff.

"His dad gave me my first NFL coaching job," Wannstedt said, referring to his seven-week stint as Miami's linebackers coach in 1989 before joining Jimmy Johnson in Dallas. "Obviously that's there, but understand that Mike's here because he's a heck of a coach and he's going to make this organization better."

Shula, 34, spent the last four years as offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was fired last week after the Bucs failed to score a touchdown against the St. Louis Rams in the NFC championship game, the fifth time Tampa Bay's offense failed to get into the end zone last season.

Tampa Bay ranked 30th in passing and 28th overall in offense, yet still managed to have the most successful season (12-6) in franchise history because of a dominant defense.

"Getting fired, there's usually a never a good time for that, but those things happen and you have to be able to move on and learn from your experience," Shula said. "You have to take the good from it and not repeat the bad."

Shula, a longtime ball boy for the Dolphins who grew up immersed in the organization, began coaching with Tampa Bay in 1988 and spent the 1990 season as quarterbacks coach before his father hired him as an assistant in Miami.

He moved to Chicago in 1993 to become the tight ends coach for Wannstedt's Bears before rejoining the Bucs.

"I'm excited to be back for a couple reasons," Shula said. "Obviously, to be back in South Florida, close to family and to be back with Dave. I've been very lucky in coaching to have worked with a lot of a good coaches and a lot of good people."

Shula's return will help bridge the gap to the Don Shula era. Johnson, who took over in 1996 and recently retired, seemed to distance himself from Shula and everything related to him.

Everything except Dan Marino, but even that relationship was often strained.

"I have a great deal of respect for Dave, a coach I first brought into this league in 1989," Don Shula said. "I think he has assembled an outstanding group of coaches to work with him, and I look forward to supporting him this season."

Wannstedt also hired Judd Garrett, who spent the last three seasons with the New Orleans Saints, as an offensive assistant.