The Miami Dolphins Border On Implosion
By Brian Miller
Losing two of your first three games is not enough to upset the balance in a locker room and it shouldn’t be enough for any franchises fan base to suddenly throw their arms in the air and scream “we’re done!”. It’s hard to believe that it was only a short three weeks ago that the Miami Dolphins opened up with a victory against the New England Patriots. Fans were excited, the coaches were excited, the media was excited, and the team was at an all time high. Now it appears as though this team is ready to implode.
Over on the Palm Beach Post it was reported that one player who remains unnamed answered some questions about the teams locker room and more specifically the coaching staff.
"“It isn’t time to clean house yet,” he said. “But guys are on notice.”"
On the Miami Herald they report an unnamed source that said several defensive players are “beyond furious” about the game plan and adjustments of defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. Another source pointed to the use of Cam Wake and Jason Trusnik on running back coverage. The Dolphins had no idea how to handle the three tight end stack that Kansas City found success with but more unimpressive is the fact that the Dolphins lack so much creativity on either side of the ball that they couldn’t come up with a game plan that would give the Chiefs fits.
Joe Philbin is losing his locker room and it’s week three. O.k. so he hasn’t lost it yet but how will this team feel if they fall to Oakland in London next weekend? How fast will they run to their cars to get away from everything Miami Dolphins when the bye week approaches? These players have been working hard since the middle of summer through off-season workouts and training camps. They are being let down by their coaches.
To be fair it’s not like all of the players are stepping up either. Dropped passes have plagued the Dolphins all season and they lead the NFL in that category. Defensive players are not making plays, there are rarely turnovers, and missed tackles are as common as the dropped passes. Make no mistake though, these are talented players who are not being put into the proper situation to win.
Game management has been an issue. Last week the Dolphins began their final first half possession with 2:21 seconds left on the clock with all three time outs. They were losing to Buffalo by nine points. With possession at their own 15 yard line Joe Philbin opted to run the clock out despite having positive yards out past the 20 yard line with plenty of clock left and all three time outs. It was an eerily familiar site on Sunday against the Chiefs.
The Dolphins took over possession at their own 22 yard line with one time out and down by 14. They had previously used two time outs to conserve clock on the previous Kansas City drive which made little sense as they were only down by seven and would have been able to force Kansas City to use their own time outs. Instead the TO’s gave K.C. time to execute their offense. They scored a touchdown.
On the ensuing drive, Philbin who took a lot of criticism over his two minute fiasco in Buffalo opened the gates to allow Tannehill to move the team. They made it as far as the K.C. two yard line before using their final time out and kicking a field goal. Where is the continuity?
While Ryan Tannehill is regressing at an alarming rate, the offensive play calling is and should be under scrutiny. When Bill Lazor was first interviewed for the job he was told by his Philadelphia managers not to take it unless he was guaranteed full control over the offense. It’s hard to believe that Lazor is making the decisions on the field. The Dolphins are running well but when they get rolling they post a series of three and four and outs. Their tight-end game is completely missing and their wide-recievers are running bad routes and dropping passes. Yet it’s the play calling that now seems far more Mike Sherman than Bill Lazor.
The Dolphins are supposed to be faster more uptempo team but outside of the two minute offense we hardly notice. It was reported in one local paper that Mike Sherman wanted to run a much faster tempo but personnel and Joe Philbin nixed the idea in favor of a more controlled offense. Is Joe Philbin digging deep into the offensive playbook and forcing the hand of Bill Lazor? We won’t know until Lazor moves on from Miami which looks very possible at the end of the season.
If the reports are true about the Dolphins defenders dissatisfaction with Kevin Coyle and others in the locker room are taking notice of the coaching in general it’s very likely that a players only meeting will be called where someone will undoubtedly remind everyone else that they need to take care of business on the field and not let the coaches shed bad light on them. Players only meetings are normally the last event prior to full implosion.
It would not be surprising if Joe Philbin lost this locker room. It lacks leadership. Ryan Tannehill is not an emotional, vocal, or talent leader. He leads because he is the quarterback. Cameron Wake is a brutal defensive end but no one has ever compared him to the leadership roles of Zach Thomas or Jason Taylor. In fact can you name one player on this team who is an actual leader both on the field and in that locker room? Last season’s locker room fiasco was national news and yet only three people took the fall for that. Jeff Ireland, offensive line coach Jim Turner, and the teams head trainer who had just been awarded the top NFL trainer award at the end of last season.
It’s hard to imagine Joe Philbin losing his locker room but that is only because it’s hard to imagine that he ever truly had it to lose.