Joe Philbin had his season-ending press conference on Monday. It had its interesting moments. It had its head-scratching moments.
Philbin's evaluation of the 2013 season and his evaluation of the team are underway but his message on each seemed unpolished. The coach, you see, believes the season was nothing grand ...
"It was average. We were 8-8. It was an average season," he said. "There's areas we need to improve starting with me. 8-8 is not where this franchise wants to be, needs to be or should be.
"We need to make changes, adjustments, tweaks, additions, deletions."
And yet, in the next breath, Philbin said the Dolphins are close to reaching their goals of winning a championship.
"We're not that far away," he said. "We're close."
Philbin's logic is that the team was 8-6 and a victory away from the postseason tournament. No, they didn't win either game at season's end, but he still believes that constitutes being close to some degree.
Look, the Dolphins are not close. They have the potential to be a good team but it is clear this coaching staff could not get the players to perform up to that potential. That's a problem.
And I don't see how a team that needs a virtually complete offensive line rebuild (outside of Mike Pouncey), a running back, and addressing of linebacker problems, can be considered close. I don't see how a team whose offensive coordinator failed to significantly improve his unit and whose offensive line coach failed to keep his unit from being a disaster can be close.
As far as Philbin is concerned, however, he seems to think his staff is strong.
"I have a lot of faith and confidence in myself and the staff and our players that we can make the corrections necessary to lead this team to play up to its potential and lead this team to a championship," Philbin said. "That's what I said the day I got here. I stand by what I said the day I got here and I'm confident I can do that."
Philbin knows he has to make a decision on Mike Sherman and Jim Turner. If he doesn't know, he's ignorant to the facts of 2013. But he refused to give an inch on the idea any of his coaches might have to go.
"I'm going to talk to every single player and every single coach and we'll decide and determine 2014 at a later point in time," he said. "I have a lot of confidence in our staff, our offensive staff, Mike Sherman. He's an excellent football coach. That's what I think."
I asked Philbin if, given his close relationship with Sherman, he is capable of either firing Sherman or convincing him to fade away via resignation.
"I'm beginning the evaluation of the 2013 season and we haven't made any decisions on who's coming back and who isn't," Philbin said, dodging the question. "We'll have all those discussions at the appropriate time."
No, I said. The question is whether you are capable of firing Sherman if it comes to that?
"That's my answer," Philbin said.
Philbin and owner Stephen Ross talk every week. They visited for nearly 30 minutes after Sunday's 20-7 loss to the New York Jets. At no time during those conversations has he been given assurances he'll be back in 2014. The subject hasn't even come up because both he and Ross seemed to assume the coach would be back.
"We haven't even talked about any of that stuff," Philbin said.
Ross, I'm told, likes Philbin. He doesn't want to fire Philbin.
But the collapse of 2013 in which the Dolphins didn't put up any fight in the two most important games of the season could be a game-changer.