Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin was the first NFL coach to make himself available to media at the NFL Combine. It was a late addition following urging from Stephen Ross. Likely from Stephen Ross. This is the first time that Philbin has spoken to the media since the season ended and he represents the first person to openly discuss the Ted Wells report.
Philbin accepted all responsibility for the behavior in the locker room and his opening comments relayed the typical PC/PR comments you would expect. Entering the question segment, Philbin walked a thin line. He refused to discuss the possibility of Martin being back on the team and tiptoed around the Kevin O’Neill and Jim Turner firing saying that the best advice to give others in that position would be to “tell the truth”.
Philbin has vowed to fix the locker room and referenced his vow upon hiring that Miami would be a place that players would rave about when they left. That obviously has not happened. He now vows to fix this situation and culture but not indicate how they would do that.
At times Philbin came across rehearsed but if you knew Philbin his lines are often spoken with the same type of speech pathology so while at time he sounded rehearsed there were other times that came across sincere. However when the question of Richie Incognito came up remaining a leader on the team, Philbin’s answer fell very short.
I do not know who asked the question, “you talk about integrity but Richie assaults a woman at the golf tournament and you leave him on your football team. How does that happen?”.
I can say that at this point I wanted to wash my hands of Joe Philbin. He blatantly passed the responsibility to his team for that decision saying that he did not elect the council members. The media member then questioned his say in the matter and again he defended the decision of team that selected him. He said that the process is what elected him and they went with that process. At one point as the media member said “but you allowed it”, Philbin actually gave a half smile. To me and this is only to me he came across very indifferent to yet another mistake that he made.
Another member of the media asked Philbin that with the suspensions and firings if he feels fortunate to still have a job. Philbin told him that Stephen Ross makes the decisions on who is fired and hired and that the reporter should ask him.
A better question to ask through all of this is what if the Dolphins had won one more game? How would all this impact the image of the team, the questions regarding Philbin, and for that matter Jeff Ireland? It’s something to contemplate but something we will never know.