No, this is not a knee jerk reaction. This is a realization. I like Joe Philbin as a head coach but unfortunately it may be time for him to leave the upper ranks and return to simpler coaching duties. Not now of course but at the seasons end should things not turnaround.
I know he isn’t getting the play out of his players that you should think he would and today’s loss to the New England Patriots could just as easily be handed over to some of the worst penalties I have ever seen in a single game. A pass interference, a phantom hold on a 3rd down incompletion, another hold, and of course the swatted ball on an attempted recover of a fumble. Yes those played a huge key role in the Dolphins second half implosion as each gave the Patriots points and changed the course of the game.
But I’m not here to talk about the referees. What sealed it for me and my opinion on Philbin and maybe to some degree QB Ryan Tannehill was the last six minutes of the game.
It’s hard to make a 360 degree turn on a coach that you support in a six minute time frame and considering my opinion actually changed in the span of 3 minutes makes it harder to justify but what I saw was pretty convincing. There was no urgency with six minutes left and a 10 point deficit. No sense of determination and the play calling left me not only scratching my head but made me realize that this team simply doesn’t have what it takes to win ball games and when I look at the field of talent on this team I can only point to the coaching staff.
Six minutes down by ten and the Dolphins have a delay of game penalty? They came close to getting two more. Where is the urgency in that? Sure a lot of that is on Ryan Tannehill but in reality, you play how you are coached and it’s obvious now that there is no sense of urgency from our coaching staff. Perhaps there will be if their jobs are on the line.
The Dolphins approach in that final six minutes doesn’t have to be deep thrown balls on every play or even out routes to work the sidelines but getting to the line with 14 seconds left on the play clock and taking it down to 3 seconds is inexcusable to say the least.
In addition and this is something we have seen from the Dolphins in almost every game this year and especially in the four consecutive losses. There is little to no visible half-time adjustments. None. The Dolphins played a near perfect first half where they ran for well over 100 yards. The Patriots adjusted to take away that option early but they soon moved to a more pressure/blitz heavy approach. The Dolphins not down at all but in fact still up by seven never really went back to the running game and when they did, they actually gained good positive yardage. Only to abandon it once again.
That is coaching. A second and two on an opening second half drive deep in New England territory and once again the team not only fails to deliver they take an unnecessary sack that leads to a missed field goal. Why not pound the ball deep when it’s what got you there? Coaching again.
If the issue isn’t Philbin then it has to be Mike Sherman and his poor play calling. The problem here is that Philbin is not going to fire his coaching mentor. It’s because of Mike Sherman that Philbin is a coach in the NFL and there is no situation that I see where Philbin calls Sherman into his office and sends him packing. Which is unfortunate because doing so may actually change the offenses tempo and the change may save Philbin his job.
I stood somewhat stiffly by the side of Tony Sparano until that final season of his and I see things I genuinely like in Philbin. He has the respect of his players and runs a very solid schedule in Miami. The problem is that Philbin may be over his head and again maybe it’s not Philbin but Sherman but regardless it’s Philbin’s responsibility to fix what ails the team and so far he has not come close to doing that.
Others will point at the GM and I understand the argument. Ireland has overseen four years of drafts entirely and two HC’s who couldn’t get it done but I believe Ireland is right for the job. He has a good eye for talent and this team, on paper is LOADED with talent. Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Lamar Miller, a very tough defense and to some degree maybe someday a Ryan Tannehill. But these players are not being used right and the inability of the coaches to use them right is frustrating and that is not something I blame Ireland for.
The Dolphins are reportedly in great shape financially next off-season where it’s expected to be an offensive line heavy draft. The catch here is this. If Stephen Ross and Jeff Ireland keep Philbin that draft will be for lineman that fit Philbin’s system. If Philbin loses his job at the end of 2014 then the Dolphins could replace him with a coach who wants a different style of Oline play. Which makes the end of this year more telling and more realistic to get rid of Philbin if he can’t improve.
The Dolphins have a defense that can move from a 3-4 to a 4-3 or vice versa with minimal additions but the Oline is built to play fast and athletic instead of road grading. That is a bigger concern entering 2014 and again why I think that barring a historic turnaround the Dolphins should consider replacing the HC this year. Some again will argue that Ireland should go as well and I am far from that wagon. Ireland will be one of the top GM’s in this league when it’s said and done and I would prefer that Miami be the team he manages when that time comes. Finding the right HC will make that vision so much easier.
Is Philbin the right guy? I know longer can say that with any degree of certainty. Nor can I say that about his assistants either. What I can say with certainty is it’s time to at least explore the possibility that what is best for this team could come in the form of a coaching change at seasons end. Philbin doesn’t seem to have the ability to instill a killer instinct in his team and that is needed in this day of pass happy offenses. That is on the shoulder of the coaches and frankly, it’s not happening.
Last week it was reported that Stephen Ross had a closed door meeting with Ireland and Philbin…he may need to do it again because it didn’t work.