The Miami Dolphins fan whipping boy for the last few years has been Jeff Ireland. Failed 2nd round picks, something that has plagued Miami all the way back to God knows when, and non-impactful draft classes all around had put the finger squarely on Ireland’s forehead. Ireland is gone but Joe Philbin remains.
Last year Ireland went on a spending spree and wound up one game short of the playoffs after the team folded it in the final two weeks of the season. In part, it cost Ireland his job. The question now becomes one of talent and coaching. Philbin will not receive Ireland’s hand picked draft class but instead will have more input with new GM Dennis Hickey. If the Dolphins fail this season, the finger only points to Philbin.
Philbin is entering his third season as the Dolphins head coach and the learning curve is out the window. Stephen Ross may publicly love his coach, his hand picked coach, but fans are not so easily comforted with a coach who doesn’t seem to understand the entirety of his job. This year more than any, Philbin will need to rely on his coaching staff. His career could benefit from some changes. Consider that Mike Sherman was “forced” from his job and Philbin almost quit over it. Bill Lazor the new OC now holds Miami’s offense in his hands and perhaps Philbin’s head coaching career.
Lazor has a specific type of offensive system in mind but he may not have the parts to put it into motion. He has a mobile QB with deep ball accuracy issues, a RB committee that can’t work without a line, and a line that is still be tinkered with on the right side. Lazor isn’t a West Coast coach per se’ and he is not the pass happy Chip Kelly style either. He is somewhere in between who likes to run the ball to set up the pass. He has talent on the team but until the line is playing to a level of consistency it won’t matter what his philosophy is.
Many consider the hiring of Lazor as the most important free agent acquisition. The same could be said about new offensive line coach, John Benton. Benton did very well for a Texans offense but in Miami he has pieces to work with. For now. With Jim Turner being released from his job, another of Philbin’s guys, Philbin is going to have to rely on that coach to get his offense up and running so to speak.
Defensively little has changed in terms of coaching but last years unit finished nowhere near their preseason projections. This year they have lost Paul Soliai but overall the unit really seems to have gotten better talent. On paper. Coaching will play a big role in their progress as well and there is no question Miami needs to get much better in the middle of their linebacking corp.
Overall we tend to focus on the changes in player personnel but this year the success of this team or their failure will clearly lie on the man who is running it all. Joe Philbin.