By now, you are probably sick of the Peyton Manning is healthy, no he’s not, yes he is, no he’s not, yes he is, banter that is going around. You are also probably growing tired of the skip Matt Flynn because he is another Kevin Kolb, no he’ not, yes he is, no he’s not, yes he is, banter that is going around. With needs at QB, right tackle, right guard, free safety, strong safety, linebacker, and who knows what else in the new 4-3, a better question would be, could Joe Philbin be the missing piece in the Miami Dolphins puzzle?
I know, first time coaches rarely turn around a franchise but it’s important to know a few things first before you jump off any bridges. First, the Dolphins have a solid core of players and even playmakers. They have a solid WR corp, a strong center to left tackle line, a formidable and talented running back group, and a defense that is capable of running either 3-4 or a 4-3 defense with minimal change over.
That being said, they do have some holes. Quarterback is the most glaring and then the right side of the line where a tackle and guard are needed. Luckily for the Dolphins, the line is an easy fix that can be made during free agency or the draft. Jeff Ireland only needs to be willing to spend the money. See, Joe Philbin is a former Oline coach. I know, you are rolling your eyes and saying, “so was Tony Sparano”. This is different.
Philbin started as an oline coach and grew into the OC in Green Bay. Unlike Sparano who was an oline coach who was handed the keys to the Dolphins. Philbin has done his time on multiple levels. In addition, the most glaring difference is at the offensive coordinators job in Miami where former Packer HC Mike Sherman will call the plays and mold the offense.
While Philbin will be a first time head coach, he will have solid support from his coaching staff and again a group of players who need to learn how to win and embrace the notion that nothing less than winning is acceptable. In Miami for the past decade, the Dolphins players have been mediocre at best and most of that stems from the notion that while you want to win, winning isn’t everything.
When you look back at Nick Saban, Cam Cameron, and Tony Sparano, you see coaches who took over teams in shambles. Teams in cap hell and missing playmakers across the board. Add to that the inexperience of the coaches and you have a recipe for disaster. Which we all watched play out over the last ten years. Philbin lacks the NFL head coaching experience like the other three but he makes up for that with nine years of NFL experience and again with Mike Sherman.
Sherman’s value to Philbin can not be discounted. Nick Saban had not former NFL head coach to help him adjust to the NFL. Cam Cameron refused to hire an offensive coordinator and his GM was a guy who was almost fired by Saban a year earlier. While Tony Sparano had an NFL veteran in Dan Henning, Henning himself was too long set in his ways to offer fresh insight. Bill Parcells did little to help Sparano adjust.
Philbin and company will need to find a solution at the QB position and the interesting thing here is that if/when they do, should the fortunes of the team turnaround, it will be the QB that receives the credit. Philbin may not succeed as an NFL head coach but he will have the full support of his GM, the full support of his offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator, and the full financial backing of the teams owner.
In the last 10 to 12 years, the Miami Dolphins have never been set up this good to succeed. Now they need to prove that they finally are putting the finishing touches on that puzzle.