In 2013 the Miami Dolphins faced their worst public season in team history. An NFL mandated investigation, an NFLPA investigation, a ruse internal investigation. Jonathan Martin quit, Richie Incognito Suspended, a media circus that exposed bullying and racial stereotyping. Then there of course was the fact that Joe Philbin, the Dolphins head coach had no clue what was going on underneath his own building. This from a guy who notices gum wrappers and untied shoes.
Here we are again a year later and Philbin has the support of his owner for another season. Yet we have a wide-receiver quit on his team, literally during the game on Sunday. We have another wide-receiver, Rishard Matthews inactive for the game due to disciplinary action. We hear that the players are disenchanted and yet we here we are looking at Philbin who has no clue. Joe, do all of us a favor and do what Stephen Ross didn’t do. Quit. Resign. Move on.
It’s amazing to me that Bill Belichick weathered a storm of cheating allegations and suffered through league penalties only to continue making the Patriots the best in the AFC East. It pains me to say that, disgusts me really, but again, the Patriots have home field advantage throughout the playoffs and look to be on their way to yet another Super Bowl appearance. And Joe Philbin can’t remains clueless.
I tend to fall back on that first year when the Dolphins were on Hard Knocks. Jeff Ireland asks him a question about one of HIS players and Philbin says “I don’t know, what do you think?” It’s a copout. It’s a coach who doesn’t get it. He never will.
Fans will point out that it’s not a coaches fault when a player misses a tackle, drops a pass, or fumbles the ball. No it’s not. It’s the coaches fault that the players are not reading the plays right, that they are not conditioned, that the schemes are wrong, or that the best players are not on the field. It’s the coaches fault that the play calling is atrocious or puts the players in a position to fail. It’s the coaches fault that timeouts are used at the wrong time and that half-time adjustments are either not made or made wrong.
On Sunday it was coaching that sprung Lamar Miller on a 97 yard touchdown. It was a perfect play call and perfectly executed which shows what coaching can do. Keeping Ryan Tannehill in the pocket when his strengths are moving outside? That’s a mistake. That’s bad coaching.
I look around the NFL and I see a lot of coaches that play to win but in Miami I see playing not to lose. I see coaches in the NFL that have the pulse of their player. It was embarrassing to see how hyped the Jets players were on Sunday. Doing everything they could to win that game for their soon to be fired head coach. On Miami’s sideline? The players argued, bickered, and quit. Joe Philbin “consoled” Mike Wallace when he told him he didn’t want to play the rest of the game. Joe Philbin patted him on his shoulder pads and like a pop-warner coach told his player it was o.k. What he should have done was sent him to the locker room, told him to get dressed and go home. Joe Philbin didn’t do that. Why? Because Joe Philbin doesn’t know how to confront someone.
It’s really easy to tell someone when it’s time drop F-bombs or how they need to be more responsible when it comes to getting to meetings on time. He made quick disciplinary decisions with Chad Johnson and Richie Incognito but had he been more in tune with his locker room, the latter of the two may never have boiled to that level.
In 2015 Joe Philbin will be a lame duck coach. If you think the players are disgruntled now, complaining, just wait. This team will easily give up midway through the season if they are losing. They will play for their checks, play not to get injured, and play to get the hell out of Miami. Dreaming of a Kevin Coyle firing and a Rex Ryan as DC hiring? Forget it. No top defensive coach will come to Miami on a one year deal. It will need to be an internal promotion or secondary coach looking to make a move upwards. Last year it was Bill Lazor.
Lazor came to Miami not as a top flight OC. He had never called a play, never coached and offense, he was a quarterbacks coach but last year Philbin was supposed to be a lame duck coach. The Dolphins got an up and coming coaching talent but an unproven one.
Mike Wallace played a very good season this year. 10 touchdowns came up one short of his record in his career. He learned to run different routes get better in the medium field and shook off his “he can only go deep tag” but Wallace still expected more and the Dolphins who actually have talent at the offensive skill positions didn’t feed him enough to stoke that ego. In week 17 it all came to a head. Arguing on the sideline with his quarterback and coach and quitting on his team. Some will say how do you blame Philbin for that? Because it’s his job. It’s his job to get the most out of his players. It’s his job to put a winning team on the field.
Three weeks ago it was Jared Odrick yelling at Philbin on the sideline it continually changes week after week. The team is not happy finishing yet again out of the post season, they are not happy with the way the games end or the way they are schemed and coached and prepped for. That is why the Dolphins lost this year. Not because they gave up four late fourth quarter leads but because they were coached that way. They were put in a position that did not allow them to win the game but instead to lose it. That is coaching.
Unfortunately it’s coaching that will continue in 2015 and there is no reason to believe that Joe Philbin will suddenly have a light bulb turn on his head and finally figure out what is going on in his locker room. He lacks the pulse of his team and on the field, his players emulate that. Philbin is a dry unemotional coach and on the field, the Dolphins are a dry unemotional team most of the time.