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Joe Philbin: Free agency on the table

There is a false narrative in the Dolfan community that because coach Joe Philbin came from the Green Bay Packers, he wants the Dolphins run like the Green Bay Packers, particularly when it comes to building the team.

The idea is that because Green Bay rarely dips toes in free agency, with few exceptions, Philbin wants the same in Miami.

That is not true.

"I'm not opposed to improving the football team in any way shape or form, by any method we can -- whether that's a trade whether that's free agency, draft obviously," Philbin said Monday in his end-of-season press conference. "I'm not opposed to any of that."

Philbin says player acquisition is a "collaborative" effort that includes general manager Jeff Ireland and his staff and Philbin and his staff. So free agency is on the table.

And that ties perfectly with what I tell you in my column today about the Dolphins being willing to attack the high end of free agency this offseason as they have not done since probably 2010.

As I've said before, the man in charge of personnel for the Dolphins will  continue to be general manager Jeff Ireland. Owner Stephen Ross will speak with the media later this week, but a source repeated to me again today that Ireland is absolutely safe in his job. So no change is coming there for this offseason.

This offseason is about improving everywhere -- particularly on offense.

"We certainly need to get better production and performance out of the offensive unit," Philbin said.

The coach wants to see massive improvement in the team's turnover margin. It was minus 10 this year which was in the bottom quarter of the league. And he wants to see more plays on both offense and defense relative to the passing game.

"I think these guys performed well," Philbin said. "We have to do a better job of putting points on the board. This is not a complicated game. We have to do a better job there. Part of the takeway issue is getting interceptions and fumble recoveries. But I don't know it's isolated to the receiver or DB positions.

"We need to address the explosive play element on both sides of the ball. We got to create more, we have to eliminate more from our opponent's play."

Well, if that doesn't speak to receivers (including TEs on offense) and DBs (particularly corners on defense) I don't know who it speaks to.

Among the things Philbin wants to improve is himself.

"I definitely need to improve like anybody else, no question about it," he said. "That's what the offseason is all about. I haven't had time to reflect necessarily going through the exit process today and meeting with the players. Obviously we had a plan in place for this season. I thought it was a good plan. However, obviously you have to make changes and adjustments and learn and make improvements. And we'll do that. We'll listen to the suggestions of some of the guys you work with on a consistent basis and see if they have ideas that may or may not benefit the program."

Improvement is the order of the day all around this franchise, folks. The Dolphins finished 7-9 and out of the playoffs. That's 7-9, 7-9, 6-10, and 7-9 in the last four seasons. And none of those seasons included a postseason berth.

"7-9 is not good enough," Philbin said. "... We have a lot of work to do. That's really where we are."



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I'd trade both our 2nd picks this year for a first in a flash. Then trade both our thirds to get back into the second. That would be a great draft approach if you ask me. I could pass on the Vernons and Egnews of the world that are maybe players in favour of picking up another very good pick every day.

Tannebust suked at wr, and he will suk even more at QB as well.

DD, yes that's true but it sounds like the two parties could agree on a reasonable contract. Reggie doesn't want to leave and the team needs his abilities. Hypothetically, would he be worth a 3 year $18M deal to you?? I would expect that to be his range and it would be palatable to both sides.


Singularly, Bush isnt a very vital piece. But if we begin to make him an "all-around" piece, then yes, he's very valuable. But still at the right price.

Bush just isnt a very valuable piece if exclusively slamming him inbetween the tackles. Far too much dancing while looking for the "homerun" every play.

I would resort back to using Bush the way New Orleons used him. 5-8 carries per game, some screens, reverses, wideout, slot, punts, and some k/o's. All of these things are designed to give him opportunities in space, where he's most effective.

Craig M....

That sounds like TERRIBLE news for Mallett....CLeveland is the ARM PITT of the NFL....I can't think of a worse franchise for a QB to be traded to....

No doubt I am a HUGE Mallett fan....and I still envison him signing here after his rookie contract exires in NE....the timing is perfect if Tanne doesn't work out....

but I hope to GOD he doesn't go the the Browns....he won't have a chance....

Andy, Kenny Vacaro would be the way I would go if it isn't a pass rusher at 12. I would prefer a ball hawking safety to a CB with the skills of Dee Milliner any day. To me Milliner just doesn't pass the eyeball test and may be a school product rather and an exceptional individual talent.

Your thoughts?


We just can't fix one unit. I agree offense needs to score more, but if our secondary was better (or we had more pressure on the QB) we could have neutralized some of opposing offenses and helped our offense out. SO I think we need to improve both sides of the ball. We DEFINITELY need WR/TEs, don't get me wrong. But a pass rusher/CB/S are almost just as necessary. I'm not looking forward to a secondary of Dimitri Patterson, Richard Marshall, Chris Clemons and Reshad Jones. They would fare much like this year, bottom of the league.

Mark, re-signing Bush would be GREAT...Work ethic is awesome, brings a lot of leadership to the team and loves to play in Miami... STILL has excellent speed and the ability to make people miss...Let's see if our clueless GM agrees...

Agree with the sentiments on Bush. He should still get 15-20 touches a game but there should be minimum 5 catches to make up those 15-20. I wouldn't run him more than 15 times per game and surely there would be more edge rushes in there too. Love the draws they use though - for both our top backs.

Mark, Kenny Vacaro, man, that would be nice...I would love a playmaking FS...And get rid of this stiff Clemons...

Plus, with legit wr's and a legit seam threat TE, it only increases the "open space" a Reggie Bush would have to operate. Especially in the passing game.

That's why I feel Bush greatly figures into things onece the recieving corps has been "greatly revamped". But still at the right price.

Mark In Toronto, I love your 3yr $18 million ballpark figure.


Believe me I see the lack pass rush and you make a good point. I wouldn;t complain a bit if they nabbed one of the LSU guys, maybe Werner slips just enough but Vaccaro to me is what Miami needs even more. For years and years Miami gets absolutely destroyed playing any team with and sort of decent to good to sometimes even average TEs kill this team.

It's just a personal preference but again if Miami selected Mingo, Montgomery, Werner etc I would be happy with that and hope for the best.

ya'll 'member that jeff axxhole is doing the pixing.?

YG @ 12:06.....

I agree...and that is the point I was trying to convey @ 11:59....

Bush needs space....and he has shown that he is extrodanarily POWERFUL for a guy his size....imagine Bush getting to the 2nd and 3rd level....

With some of his recent TD runs fresh in a DB or safety's memory...they may not be in such a hurry to make that tackle....makeing it easier for Bush's elusive moves to persuade a DB to dive @ his feet rather than take a shoulder in their chest....


Everyone would like to have a defense that gave up far less yardage. Still at the end of the day, the most important defensive stat is "POINTS ALLOWED".

There are defnses out there that gave up less yardage in 2013, but also gave up more points. Which do you think will affect the outcome of a game most?

Its points that win or lose games most, not yardage.

First, they need to secure some of their own free agents, including Hartline, Dansby and Bush...if they are reasonable. THEN start thinking about Free Agency.

And if any of those players end up in New England, know that we got hosed yet again.

..Fellas..Bush had 1250 plus total yards from scrimmage, and 8 touchdowns.. I don't think that is contribution that merits a new contract. Sorry. In fact, this is contribution that IMO screams upgrade. 8 total TD's from your feature back is pathetic. In fact the 15 total rushing TD's is sad. The 13 total recieving TD's is sad...We need to look at this offense and be looking at these totals as if they were individual totals, not team stats.

Is it unreasonable to think we sould have a 15 td rusher, and a 13 td reciever? Bush is great, he can be exciting, supposedly works hard, says all the right things. But I think the team is making a huge mistake by retaining him. We need to find a more efficient feature guy. Keeping him, sort of commits us to Bush. We already know what his ceiling is..It isn't good enough..Time to move on.

Ive never seen Vaccaro play ever. Is he a ball hawking S or more of a cover guy? Is he a better athlete than Earl Thomas, I havent seen one Texas game all season


I wouldnt give Bush more than 5-8 rushes per game. Just as another poster says 20-25 touches. But those 20-25 touches needs to be in as much openfield opportunities as possible. Not slamming him inbetween the tackles upto 15 times a game.

Even though there's chance he can have a 100yd rushing game in those few carries. He just isnt consistently great doing this.

Daryl D.....

instead of throwing out the BABY with the bath water....I think we just need to be more creative in the ways we use Bush....

One thing we expected from Philbin and Sherman was more creative uses for Bush...and unfortunatly...we got more Sporano's....3 yards and a cloud of dust mentality when it came to the running game....

I suggest tha before we scrap the tool(Bush)....we figure out what the best use for that tool is....I don't think our coaching staff did that the past few years...


I disagree. 8 total td's from your rb is above average. Go look at td stats of all of the nfl starting rb's, then you would see how difficult that is. There arent a whole lot of nfl rb's with double-digit tds.

There's not much intelligence on this blog, aside from (maybe) three or four people who don't even post regularly.

Overwhelmingly, all I see here is the same few names regurgitating the same, tedious items day after day, post after post. Apparently, they actually think they are saying something new, interesting, or illuminating but they assuredly are not.

Not that it matters much. The Herald (incuding this blog) is in the process of becoming a pay-for-content site so I suspect this blog will quickly dissolve after that occurs. Who would PAY to read such drivel?!?

Montreal, with all that money, he better. Just relying on the draft is not going to get it done. This team doesn't need one or two players - they would be wise to use the majority if not all of the cap space to improve the team with wise acquisitions.

Mark, Nebraska has a safety, Daimion Stafford, I don't know which round he's projected to go but he made a lot of nice open field tackles yesterday in the Capital One Bowl game against Georgia. Very physical player...

Mark Toronto,

I agree and feel the same way as you on both accounts. I agree I'd rather have a ball hawking play maker at safety then a CB any day. I just don't think the over used phrase of "shutdown corner" truly exist in today's NFL. The closest thing is Revis and after that the drop off is big IMO. Not saying finding a difference maker at saefty is any easier but Vaccaro is the real deal and the value for the position etc is right around 12-15. Last year the Bucs took Barron with 7th and he had a very good year and looks like the real deal in his own right.

As far as Dee Milliner. I saw him play a handful of times and I agree there is just something about him that doesn't quite do it for me. He looks like he is able to physicality and toughness just enough to go along with Bama pass rushers coming from everywhere to not get beat. Put him on an island in the NFL and he seems a little stiff. Maybe, I'm wrong. I don't watch every game and talk like Kiper and McShay about violent hands, hip movement lol, etc but just from the naked eye he looks stiff!

..Let me clarify..First this free agent class of running backs isn't that impresssive. so Bush may be overvalued by another team. They may offer him more then I believe he is worth. To be fair. I do think Bush has value..as a second option. And this is where I am coming from. I could be wrong. But I do not think the Phins have the offensive capital to say to Bush..We want you at a lesser price in a lesser role. I don't think Reggie is going to buy that here..

Now if we were the Green Bay Packers, or a team that was a proven offesive juggernaught, and a total team where Bush is just another piece..It gives them some street cred to approach bush in this way..For us..We are remedial offense 101..How dare we.

IMO it is the right thing to do. I don't think bush would buy a paycut, and secondary role. And I don't think the team can go on using Bush as our feature guy.
It is the perfect time to part ways.

Now..Perhaps I'm wrong on every account..Bush may love Miami, and do whatever it takes to stay. Perhaps the Phins love the idea of Bush as our feature back..We will see.


Could it be that Bush was used more as a "feature" runner jsut because they didn't have anyone else they could trust for that spot? I mean they tried Thomas but he kept getting hurt/fumbled. Towards the end of the year Miller got more of a shot and I think he showed enough to be our "feature" runner or at least platoon with Bush freeing him up for more perimeter plays.

At least I'm hoping that's the case ...

YG, true. Points given is the important defensive stat. But, it's BEST equated to the Points FOR stat. Who cares what other teams did, it's our team that matters. Offense just needs to score more points than the defense gives up.

I'm just trying to be logical here. Right now, our defense is far better than our offense. It's likely to stay that way in 2013. WRs generally need a year (or a few) to learn how to be elite at their position in the NFL. I think we can improve the offense next year, but doubt we'll be a Top 5 offense. Unless Tannehill surprises everyone and becomes Rodgers.

Therefore, to ENSURE we improve, and NOT take a step back, it would be wise to help the defense remain one of the top in the league, and I doubt they would if we didn't upgrade anywhere in that unit.


You need to check out Phillip Thomas FS Fresno St. No one here's mentioned his name. He only leads the nation in interceptions with 8.

However, he's projected to be a 2nd rd, possibly 1st rd pick. He isnt a household name but he's more than gotten the right job done this year in the pass defense game.

Kris, 12:22PM, exactly. Excellent post. I thought the number one reason for the Philbin hiring was creativity on offense. Like you said, at times, it looked like Tony Sparano all over again...


Honestly I can't say that he is better then Earl Thomas. That's a tough comparison. Thomas is arguably the best all around safety in the league at this point and he's only in year 3. I will say this, and it's just an obvious point. College coaches always have prototypes in mind to fit the mold of a player they need at a certain position for the way they run things. Example is saying Alabama isn't going to scout small quick cover 2 style CBs. They want tough physical bump and run. Well Texas had Michael Griffin and then Earl Thomas and now Kenny Vaccaro. They all are playmakers and guys with exceptional speed for the position to cover a lot of ground.

Vacarro is in the same mold as Thomas and Griffin.

How long before Armando goes on furlough and the blog comment section close? Any guess?

It is true the Herald is becoming a pay site. I know Armando will probably continue to provide links to his columns, but I won't be paying for it.

Probably just a matter of time (days) before this message board becomes a pay site as well. I'm not going along for the ride, Herald, sorry!

Andy agreed 100% on S versus CB. Especially in our division. The Patriots don't even play outside. Everything is done between the hash marks so how much better is a CB going to make you in this division. We have to start erasing their TE and their rinky dink WR plays that get mileage in YAC. Better safeties, better pass rush this is key in beating those azzwipes.


You guys continue to look at the "pieces" rather than the "the puzzle" itself. Exactly why you sign a Greg Jennings. You need a good vet you can depend on in the pass game in critical situations, and then add those young recieving pieces around him.

Montreal, I'm not familiar with teh S from Nebraska that much but if you're saying this guy is more like Yeremiah Bell, I say pass. We have sure tacklers, we need guys with ball skills.

better pass rush no doubt. but we are solid at s. we need a much better corner in slot as well

Daryl D...

You make some good points....espcially liked the 2nd paragraph....

I think we all see Bush as a guy who should not be asked to shoulder the load....but rather provide the lightining to somebody eles's thunder....

We shall see if he agree's...or if that is even Philbin's thinking in about 35 days....

Philbin and Sherman WERE running an aggressive, creative offense early in the season but the lack of ANY credible downfield burner put the clamps on that pretty quickly.

I can't expect coaches to be magicians and make things happen without the PLAYERS needed to MAKE that happen.

Obviously, finding that threat will be a huge offseason priority---as will an upgrade at TE. When that happens, you will assuredly see the play-calling reflect it. These guys didn't emerge from a cave, you know. They know damn well what they WANT to do offensively.

Clue this is courtesy of ESPN,

Production 2 2009: (13/0) - 18 tackles; 2010: (12/6) - 54-7-1; 2011: (13/13) - 71-8-2; Career: (2009-'11) - 9.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 FF, 2 Blocked Kicks.

Height-Weight-Speed 2 Possesses above-average measureables and estimated top-end speed is good.
Durability 1 Durability does not appear to be an issue as he has appeared in 38 career games entering his senior season and has suffered no significant injuries that we are currently aware of.

Intangibles 3 Active member in Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Continues to mature as career progresses. He was arrested and charged with for misdemeanor assault after being involved in a fight with another student during a pick-up basketball game at a campus gymnasium.

Instincts/Recognition 2 Overall instincts and diagnostic skill are strong. Shows good awareness when aligned in the back end as the last line of defense. Reads quarterbacks eyes well and flashes anticipation to get a quick break on the ball. Shows good discipline and is rarely caught out of position working against play action. When aligned in the slot as a NB he shows the ability to read and jump underneath routes. Brings physical element to his game and plays with a lot of confidence.

Cover Skills 1 Possesses rare movement skills for the position. He is a quick-twitched athlete that shows good balance and explosive movements. Maintains good leverage in backpedal and can instantly plant and drive. Also is loose in the hips and changes directions instantly. Can flip hips and turn and run with receivers down field. Closes quickly and shows an extra gear which provides him with solid range. Can handle middle of the field responsibilities as well as drop down into the slot and hold up against TEs and slot-receivers.

Ball Skills 2 Possesses very good but not elite ball skills. Instincts and range provide him with a lot of upside as a play maker in coverage. Closes quickly, takes quality angles to the point and is aggressive going up and playing the ball. Can high point to separate the ball from the receivers. Shows natural hands to pull in most throws he can get both hands on. Flashes ability to turn, located and play the ball when back is initially to the quarterback.

Run Support 3 Aggressive and willing in this area. Closes instantly when breaking forward. Generally a sound tackler that does a nice job of wrapping up. Also flashes ability to bring hips and strike on ball carriers. Only concern at this point is that he can have some inconsistent angles in pursuit. Closing burst allows him to get away with poor angles at the collegiate level but must continue to improve to become a more consistent tackler at the next level.

im sure we will be a lot better, but with a much much harder schedule it will be tough to get much better record wise,. finishing second killed us , bringing us games vs sd and colts instead of raiders and titans

Yesterday, I'll check it out. I think Miami should definitely look at the option of drafting a FS in the first round. But again, like I say every January, even Ireland himself doesn't know what he'll do in the first round simply because free agency hasn't even started yet...


While there were some "creativity" issues in our offense, I'm HOPING its more because of a lack of talent and a rookie QB than anything else. We did see flashes. I think our red-zone scoring was better than Sparano (but to the trolls, that's just my "gut feeling", I didn't cross-reference it with the statistical figures). I did notice routes that Sparano offenses would NEVER run. And there was generally more passing than under a Sparano-run offense.

So let's hope they will insert more mismatch formations and add some more misdirection and creative plays to make it easier for Tannehill next year.

..Yg..I would agree with you more if that number of 8 wasn't your team leader. If 8 tds from you running back was second or third on the team..Then IMO sure. It would be fine. As it goes there were 16 12 running backs that had more TD's, and 4 others tied with Bush at 8..so he is middle of the pack.

I get all the reasons why to keep him..A lot of what ifs, an we should use him like this. We didn't do it this year because we were limited in this way. I agree. I just think that we can get better and younger at running back with the personel we have. Bush, for whatever reasons(coaches choices, his ceiling) is what he is. My opinion is we can get better at rb.


I agree...this offense got more restrictive as the season went on....most likey for many of the reason's you mentioned....

another year with this playbook under the offensive players belt...and some REAL talent added....and the offense could/should become what we have been hoping for....

The talent you have at your disposal is the beginning, middle, and end of how "creative" you can be on offense. There isn't a coach anywhere--at any level--with magic wands and pixie dust to overcome a talent deficiency.

How many times must people see this demonstrated? Did Andy Reid suddenly forget how to design an offense that could score points? Did Mike Martz suddenly become an idiot when his backfield talent didn't have names like 'Faulk' and 'Warner' and 'Bruce?'

Some of you guys attach WAAAY too much importance to the coaches without acknolwleding that NONE of them have the ability to be "creative" without the talent needed to do so.

You guys blaming Philbin for lack of creativity on offense, are you freaking kidding? What on earth did he have to be creative with?

No real wr's, no TE, no real rb's.

It took nearly half a season for them to feel comfortable with Miller's pass blocking. Thomas couldnt stay healthy. Took Bush nearly a month to "fully recover" from the knee injury.

WTH did they really have to be creative with? Bush was without question the best all around "RB" on the team period. Many times they wanted to get Bush in space during the passing game. Teams blitzed to force him to become a pass protector.

That doesnt even count the times Jake Long and other oline members were playing "matador pass protector". Nor false starts and other offensive problems. How creative can you get under these circumstances, and that's not even factoring in the many 3rd and longs.

I swear, sometimes I think you guys were'nt even watching the same games this season. Bush was easily our greatest weapon. Defenses knew this and devised ways to take that away. Many times with success.

Even though we were trying to be "creative with Bush".

offense was awful. i blame sherman, never took shots down field just to even show it

I'm definitely on the Vacarro bandwagon..Mark, I don't know about his ball skills, I don't watch enough college football to have an opinion to be honest with you...


Im glad you get it. Some of these guys its like they arent even watching the same games many of us watched this season. I would hate to be lost and these were the only guys to give me directions.

bill connors, shots down field to who exactly??? We have NO SPEED on offense...That's the problem...For years now...

Hey, I'll go further and include GM's in that equation.

Wasn't Scott Pioli nearly universally considered a "genius" and "draft guru" just a few, short years ago? Didn't fans all over the NFL (most DEFINITELY including Miami) lust after his services...believing he would instantly bring the same kind of magic he had in New England?

Well, how's that same Scott Pioli looking today after being the 'architect' of the worst team in football? Still think he's a Boy Wonder?

You GOTTA have the players, folks, and some of that is just dumb luck (unless you think the Patriots knew all along some future HOF quarterback woud be sitting there in the 6th round)

pompa, Tom Brady made a lot of people in New England rich. That tree spreads far and wide.

I gotta say after watching the LSU Clemson game on New Year's Eve I would be thrilled to get DeAndre Hopkins from Clemson with one of the 2nd round picks.

He's 6'1" and had 18 TD's this year. He had 2 big TD catches and a clutch 4th down catch as well against LSU,which was one of the best defenses playing against SEC competition.

Only problem is his game was so good, he's shooting up other teams draft boards as well.

boycott all you want waste of time....ross thinks hes doin a great job.....why he cant see it is insane....

spend money thats the answer, take a w/r out of free agency they are matured and you wont have to wait as long as a w/r coming out of college. Grab the c/b out of alabama or mississipi state for first pick, dont waste on offensive lineman you find them every round, and its usually late rounders who become good in nfl.find a tight end to open up defenses thats why new england is good we need to stop worrying about getting to the super bowl it comes through new england beat them FIRST

If Mr Ross was smart he would dump jeff Ireland and go after The Colts x Gm and really get someone who knows how to build a team with talent. Coach Philbin is a Head Coach in training and made a couple of key mistakes that cost the team a couple of games. the wide reciever position was one position that was never addressed ,and the offensive line just didnt make enough holes for the running game. the defense was stout, but 7 & 9 + the fact that goose egg they put up against New England does not give me goose bumps looking forward to next year.

First thing is I would not listen to people who want to say bad things about people. Take them off of this dialog those kinds of people belong with the devil himself. Stay away from Miami. Now when we made the play off the last two times. people still made complaints. And we lost. For instance Fiedler a very good QB but you had those sick evil people talking bad about him terrilbe. Them we had Pennington. Another star for us. The devil complain about him too. Please go some where else and complain. What we need is positive talk here. How do we beat N E. MMM we need a great pass rush. Charge get a pass rusher. Come on. Ireland and company are doing a wonderful job.

what i'm getting tired of is how the phins keep trying to build and improve EVERY SINGLE FREAKIN' YEAR for the past 10 years....
WHEN THE HELL are they gonna go get players and COACHES who can actually HELP WIN and stop with these people LEARNING ON THE JOB!!!??? what do they expect?!!
the were 4-3 and suddenly started sh$%ing on themselves the rest of the year because the coaches started showing their inexperience!

Draft the best Wide Receiver first. That is the best way to get and keep a deep threat receiver. Once they get a name and fame, it is so expensive to bring one in from free agency. There is always one standout in College that will do the job.

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