Dolphins Philbin Didn’t Know…But He Should Have


Dec 1, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin during the game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Ted Wells report is a day old and honestly while I have read most of the report, I have not finished it.  I will have a finishing article up on Sunday with more highlights of the report and my opinion on them.  For whatever that means to you.  With that being said, the Miami Dolphins have not made any decisions in terms of their staff.  Last night, Stephen Ross made a team statement which as you can guess was very PResque.

Ross painted an image of no tolerance and on three occasions mentioned his head coach Joe Philbin as being a no-tolerance type of coach.  That may be true and according to the Wells report, Philbin didn’t have knowledge of the harassment going on or the racial injustices that were being played out in his locker room.

He should have.

When the New Orleans Saints were fined and members suspended after “Bounty-Gate” HC Sean Payton took a forced year off.  He had knowledge of the issue but his reaction was such that he did nothing to stop it entirely.  Spygate?  Bill Belichick too had knowledge and took his punishment.  Joe Philbin however knew nothing.  I find that plausible but ultimately the responsibility falls on his shoulders and his alone.

The fact that Philbin was unaware is concerning to me.  It means he doesn’t know his own locker room.  Doesn’t know his own players.  It tells me that he doesn’t care to know them and he doesn’t care to establish a relationship with them.  There is a line to be drawn that separates the coaches and the players.  Yet that line, while it may not lead to friendship should not blur the vision.  It shouldn’t block the access.  Coach to players should be transparent.  It’s a business and there is a business side but good coaches know their team.  Joe Philbin obviously does not.

How do you lead that way?  How do you inspire?  Simply you don’t.  Joe Philbin is a nice guy but I have to ultimately question is ability to lead a football team.  He who reads his post game talk off index cards.  He who has no ability to ignite fire in his players.  It’s said that the players love him and respect him.  It’s easy to love a parent who turns the other way until the room needs cleaned.  Joe Philbin is the parent who walks in, looks around, and goes back upstairs.

A larger issue is not the players.  To some degree I get why a player would not go to his head coach especially if there is a disconnect in that locker room.  What I don’t get is the coaches disconnect with his own coaches and trainers.   The Dolphins have an OC and DC and position coaches.  Then they have assistants.  Then they have equipment guys and trainers.  The coach is supposed to have a  very solid relationship with those people.

Philbin apparently didn’t or doesn’t have the trust of his own staff.  When an assistant trainer is ridiculed, in front of his own boss no less, and he bites his tongue for fear of his job then that tells me he didn’t feel as though he could go to the head coach or the GM.  That tells me he doesn’t feel Joe Philbin respects him enough to hear him out.  A fear of losing the trust of the players?  I understand that but there is always a way to approach and handle issues.  Especially something so wide spread as what apparently was going on in Miami.

Of course there is also Jim Turner who will likely lose his job.  Turner is a former Marine who participated in some of the offensive line’s harassment of an unnamed lineman.  The issue here again is that Philbin made this choice to hire Turner.  He saw the brashness of Turner throughout HBO Hard Knocks.  Is it o.k. for a coach to tell a pre-teen that the cheerleaders were checking him out?  It’s not harmful but is it professional?

Ultimately, Joe Philbin will not lose his job but the fact that it’s questioned whether or not he should only adds more marks to an already scarred organization under an owner who is mocked publicly.  Joe Philbin was out of the loop which means he had no pulse on his locker room.  Which means instead he likely on spoke through or learned through his “leadership council”.  Of which Mike Pouncey and Richie Incognito were members of.

Joe Philbin’s lack of control over his team is perhaps the biggest concern that has come out of this.  It’s a dysfunction that the Dolphins have not faced.  Even during Cam Cameron’s one season the incident with Joey Porter was handled by the head coach.  Joe Philbin didn’t handle anything and it’s out of his hands now to handle it.  Teams win because they have strong leaders and those leaders start with their coaches.  Starts with how the team is prepared.  Teams that lack good coaching and leadership often play strong when they rely on talent and talent alone but they are the teams that always come up short.  That is the Miami Dolphins.

Philbin is the number one choice of Stephen Ross and Ross has to know right now that despite all of his efforts, the fact that his team was in this much dysfunction doesn’t start with the hazing and harassing of Richie Incognito it starts with the supervising leader who left him to his own devices.  If you have a bull on your team, you don’t leave him alone in the china shop to run wild without at least keeping an eye on him.

Which brings us to our final realization.  Philbin should have had one eye on Richie Incognito.  Not because of his past but because of his present.  The incident at the golf course with the sexual harassment was quietly hushed up but yet Philbin did nothing but issue a fine.  Why didn’t Philbin continue to watch more closely the action of a man who has a history of being a problem?  That to me is the final solution to this problem.  Philbin didn’t know because Philbin didn’t take the time to know.  It was right in front of him.  He had the signs.  He had the history under his own watch and still he blatantly looked away while the bull ran through his china shop.

Philbin didn’t know.  The report says that.  Philbin should have known, and there are no excuses to why he didn’t and no reason to believe that in the future he will.