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2 posts from November 12, 2013

November 12, 2013

Tuesday: Philbin does his media thing

Joe Philbin and his friends in the media gathered together Tuesday afternoon. And much the way they've done for a while now -- particularly since the start of the you-know-what scandal -- the two danced around each other like two swordsmen without really accomplishing anything.

This is how it went:

(Opening statement) – “After reviewing the game further, obviously we didn’t get off to a very good start in the football game. I thought our guys competed and got back into the game. We took the lead, and we didn’t play particularly well in the fourth quarter either. Once again, Tampa Bay deserved to win the football game, credit them. We have almost an opposite situation we had last time. I just told the players last time we had 11 days in between games. Now it seems this one is coming right around the corner. We are going to have to put together a great plan for San Diego. They are a very similar situation to what we are in. We are going to have to perform better.”

(On assessment of reasons for Monday night's slow-start) -  “I think it was collective in all three phases of the game. We kind of talked to the team about it. We decided to kick the ball off to Tampa Bay. Tampa hadn’t scored on an opening possession all year. They go 76 yards, I believe, on the opening possession of the game. They hit a 30-yard pass. They hit a 24-yard run on what we would call a football 101 play. They executed it very well. We got the ball on offense. Instead of having a 3rd-and-1, we got an uncharacteristic penalty that forced us into a 3rd-and-16. We punted the ball. We got a penalty on that initial punt. They got great field position. We held them to a field goal. Again, the field position, it was all three phases. We just didn’t execute very well. The one run that broke out, we just didn’t fit it properly. We spend a lot of time on the run-fits making sure all of the gaps are covered. We didn’t do it well enough. We have to do better. But it was clear, it wasn’t the offense. It wasn’t the defense. It wasn’t the special teams. It was all of them."

(On when he became aware that he was appointed to one of Steve Ross’ newly created committees) - “Steve (Ross) and I have been in constant communication throughout. We are in constant communication throughout the course of the whole season. Obviously we were last week as well, and I’m for anything that can make our organization better, I’m fully supportive of. Steve and I talked about this, and I’m in total agreement and support."

(On if the leadership council has been a failure this season) – “Not at all. We are going to have a leadership council meeting later today as a matter of fact."

(On the difference between the Green Bay and Miami locker room) –“Again, I’m not into comparisons between different locker rooms. I’ve stated many times my faith and confidence in these players that they are very good teammates, professional. They work hard representing this organization the right way on and off the field. It’s important to them, and I believe that whole-heartedly."

(On his current players not representing the organization the right way) – “Well you are certainly entitled to your own opinion."

(On Richie Incognito saying in an interview that tasteless jokes are within a locker room culture) - “It’s all part of the review process. We’ll see how it plays itself out."

(On if he knew about the locker room culture) - “We discuss appropriate behavior and the type of work atmosphere we want to create. We talk about that every single day, absolutely."

(On what he would say to fans who have lost faith in the team) - “Number one, I’m happy that they’re passionate. We have a loyal fanbase. We all want the same thing. We want to have a football team that’s consistently competing for championships and represents the organization the right way on and off the field. And I’m glad that (the fans) are passionate and want to be great just like we do."

(On what would a few wins mean to the players on the team) - “This is a performance-based industry that we are in. We all know that, and winning football games is what we all get paid to do. It’s important we play better. I just told the team. We were just in a team meeting. There were a lot of teams in a very similar position that we are in right now. In November and December, that decides a lot. The teams that have the great character, the great chemistry, they find a way to fight through the obstacles and adversity, and perform at a high level this time of the year. That’s what we have to do."

(On if he told his players to tune outside noise out and to focus on what the team needs to accomplish) – “We have to focus on football. We have to focus on improving. We have to focus on our own performance. There are a lot of things, if you look at last night’s game, that we didn’t do well enough to win the game. You go back to the Cincinnati game. You look at the Cincinnati game. We got behind in the fourth quarter, but we were able to put together a drive to send the game into overtime and make some plays. We well behind in this game in the fourth quarter and didn’t play smart enough or well enough in the fourth quarter to either send the game into overtime with the field goal at the end or not. You know we had the penalty at the end of the fourth quarter that hurt us. We fielded a punt on the 5-yard line to start. We did some things that didn’t contribute to winning football games in this league, and that’s exactly what happened. The outcome was what it was."

(On how concerned he is about missed tackles and what could be done to fix this) - “I’m very concerned about the missed tackles. It’s a basic fundamental of football that we need to do better. I told the team, per NFL rules we are allowed three-more padded practices. So it’s not like we are going to go out there and have live tackling for the next seven weeks three times a week. That’s not realistic. With that being said, we have to practice the fundamentals better. We still do drill it. We do it in team periods. We do it in isolated and individual periods and we have to continue our focus on it."

(On if he feels what is happening off-the-field affected the team’s on-the-field result last night) -“No. Like I said, we had a lot of time to prepare for Tampa Bay. We had good practices on the football field. We had good meetings. We had good meetings at the hotel."

(On long-term picture of the off-the-field distractions affecting the team) - “Again, I don’t think so. There’s always to a certain degree there are going to be things that happen whether they are professionally, personally that can impact your job. But when we come in here, when we come into this facility, we go to work every single day. We are professionals. We have an obligation to the Dolphins. We have an obligation to one-another to give our total effort, focus and control to things that we control. We have to do this on a daily basis. That’s been a focus of our program."

(On if he knows about a report that Jonathan Martin was fined by his teammates for being too soft) - “Again, I’m not going to comment on any of those things. That, I would imagine, would fall under the NFL review. I don’t think it is appropriate to make any comment on that at this point in time until the review is complete."

(On Stephen Ross’ supportive comments of him last night) - “Number one, I’m appreciative of Stephen (Ross’) comments. I think the only way you succeed if there is support within the whole entire organization. It starts at the top. Stephen is the owner of the football team. I appreciate his support. I didn’t really particularly read the comments, per se. I can’t comment any further.”

Dolphins lose to (previously) winless Tampa Bay

TAMPA -- Don't ask me to explain this one. Don't ask me to explain this team. Don't ask me to explain this organization.

The Dolphins lost to Tampa Bay on Monday night, 22-19. The Dolphins are lost for reasons well beyond the fact they lost to the previously winless Buccaneers.

Forget for a second the Dolphins rushed for only 2 yards this game, the lowest rushing production of any NFL team since 2007. Forget for a moment they had 70 yards in penalties or that they only converted 4 of 12 third down attempts or that their only rushing first down came on a quarterback sneak.

All that is football. It happens sometimes.

But as I write in my column in Tuesday's Miami Herald, the troubles plaguing this team are deeper. And I'm not even talking about the ongoing Richie Incognito-Jon Martin soap opera.

I'm talking fundamental problems like how the Dolphins in the past month have lost to a glorified practice squad quarterback and a rookie who threw for only 139 yards.

I'm talking about how the Dolphins show no fire. They came out flat against Tampa Bay. If you read this blog or my column Monday you know I expected this team to come together and try to prove a point to everyone.

Well, they proved a point alright.

"Anytime you start out in a 15-0 hole, you're not expecting to do that," cornerback Brent Grimes said. "But we kept playing. We could have easily folded and said, 'No we're not ready for this game. We didn't come out to play.' But we came out slow but kept fighting."

Here's the problem, in this fight, the Dolphins were counter-punching. The Bucs were punching. They were the aggressors.

And yet the players say nothing is wrong. 

"We're a tight-knit team," Grimes said. That's why I'm really confused with people saying this is not a good locker room. This is a great locker room. We were ready to play. We came out and wanted to win but had a slow start. We started off bad and that hurts in this league. We fought back but down the stretch they made plays and we didn't."

"We are a close-knit group on the defensive line, defensively. and the whole team," defensive tackle Jared Odrick said. "The whole team hangs out with [each other]and it's something we brought upon ourselves. We call ourselves a tribe. So you're not going to see a separation of anybody. The more adversity. The closer we get."

Well, these guys will be soon meshing into one another because the mercury is ready to pop through the adversity meter.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is going to make changes. And, reading the signs Monday evening when the owner gushed about Joe Philbin and didn't mention Jeff Ireland until he said the general manager is on some internal policy committee, everyone is seeing that Ireland is looking more and more like the scapegoat.

This goes with my report Monday afternoon that said if Ross makes changes, he's more likely to keep Philbin than Ireland. I have a problem with this approach. I hope the Dolphins don't go that way.

It's clear, however, something is going to be done eventually. I'm just not sure it's going to be the right move. Can you blame me?