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The complex dynamic of Philbin firing assistants

Over the past two weeks it has become clear to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross his team must address issues on offense and that means at least one but probably several offensive coaches are in jeapardy of being dismissed. The only obstacle that may be currently protecting the assistants from such a fate is head coach Joe Philbin.

And that may place Philbin, whom Ross hasn't wanted to fire, in an uncertain situation.

The Dolphins owner has seen from the Miami offense what fans saw, particularly at the end of the season.

Everyone saw an offense incapable of helping the Dolphins' playoff push. Everyone saw an offense that scored once in 24 possessions over two games while being shut out at Buffalo and scoring only one touchdown against the New York Jets.

And those ugly season ending performances were merely brush strokes on a bigger picture of season-long unsatisfactory offense. Consider:

The Dolphins averaged only 19.8 points per game this year, which was No. 26 in the NFL and made the Dolphins one of only seven teams not averaging at least 20 points per game.

The Dolphins were 20th in the NFL in passing and 26th in rushing.

The offensive line yielded a franchise record and NFL worst 58 sacks.

The offseason's much heralded $100.5 million investment ($43.25 million in guaranteed money) in receivers Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson -- players who have enjoyed past NFL success -- acounted for only 12 TDs.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill and Wallace never clicked as a battery and the second-year quarterback missed at least a dozen deep throws that should have been touchdowns to Wallace because the football was either overthrown or underthrown. Coaches were never able to resolve this issue and, in truth, Wallace was not always prominently featured in the game plan and was at times frustrated about that during the season.

Despite the infusion of talent and resources, the Dolphins offensive performance in 2013 wasn't significantly better than it was the previous season under the same coaching staff. Miami had averaged only 18 points per game in 2012.

And the production in both 2012 and 2013 was a step back from 2011 under a different coaching staff. Indeed, the Dolphins were 20th in the NFL averaging 20.6 points per game in 2011 and that was considered poor and helped lead to a change in coaches.

So basically, the new offensive staff the past two years has gotten less production than the previous offensive staff.

The lack of production for the Dolphins rests with players, of course, but also with offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, offensive line coach Jim Turner and others. That's the reason Ross is pushing for staff changes.

But Philbin can stand in the way of change because while Ross is the owner, Philbin's contract grants him the authority on hiring and firing assistants.

And on Monday during his season-ending press conference, Philbin defended his assistants, starting with Sherman, despite the obvious case against them.

“I have a lot of confidence in our staff, our offensive staff with Mike Sherman," the coach said. "He’s an excellent football coach, and that’s what I think."

And the offense?

“Well again, the game is not played on a stat sheet," he said. "My feeling is Week 17 we had a game had we won, which we didn’t win, we would have been in the playoffs. That’s where I’m getting the barometer that we are not that far away. We are close. I acknowledge the fact that on that paper there is a lot of room for improvement, a lot of room for improvement."

Philbin became very uncomfortable and even combative about the idea of possibly firing assistants beginning with Sherman. He was asked if he was capable of such of move if that was required of him ...

“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. "We’ll have all of those discussions at the appropriate time."

Obviously Philbin offered a response to some question but not the one he was asked. So he was asked a second time if he is capable of firing Sherman, who has been a mentor, friend and confidant during his career?

"That's my answer," Philbin said, again dodging the question.

All this suggests Phibin wants to attempt filling the "room for improvement" by improving players and their execution and not by changing assistants.

So we are at a crossroads.

When Ross asks Philbin to make changes to that offensive staff -- which will absolutely happen --  does the head coach resist to a point that he himself is in danger of being fired? Or does Philbin cave and let the owner have his way?

Or does the owner, who likes Philbin and doesn't want to fire him, cave?

Moreover, in suggesting that the issue is with players and not necessarily coaches, would Philbin be effectively telling Ross that general manager Jeff Ireland did not give him enough talent on offense, thereby hurting Ireland's already tenuous job status?

The dynamic is complex. Answers are expected by Friday and possibly before.


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Well now I have meetings until 11:30. It's like a Monday today uggghh. At least tomorrow is Friday!

Hopefully afterwords there will be some interesting Fins news to read. Not counting on it though.

Firing assistants? That's the answer? You can't be serious! That's like saying the titanic needs a paint job!

Get all these clowns out of here!!! Hurry up ross
Posted by: dusty bottoms | January 02, 2014 at 08:19 AM

All we need is a QB dusty. Several folks on here have said so.


Lets say they Fire Sherman.....now our "young QB" who has been in this system for the past 5 years and hasn't been able to manage a very good record in college or the pros....will have to learn a new system....

and all the excuses will be.....it's the 3rd year QBs first time in THIS system...give him a break.....he will be better next year with another off-season in the new system....

built in excuse for mediocrity.....

Mr. Ross....Fire them all.....or don't fire anyone....that is the only way it can work....

I see Krissy is back now that the Dolphins fell apart and Tannehill fell apart.

I see the self proclaimed Moron is still a Moron....

hey Moron.....

the Miami dolphins were the worst team in the nfl the last 2 weeks of the season
the worst.
1 td in 2 games.

We need continuity so don't make too many coaching changes, fire Sherman if anything and replace him with Kubiak. The play calling was vanilla and predictable most of the time the running back lined up in front of the qb so teams knew were going to throw. We also need to change that go go count and add some more playmakers We need players in Miami that can compliment the possession receivers we have. Take a flyer on someone like dri archer in the 5th round. His speed and quickness in the slot will help Wallace and hartline. Our biggest problem on defense was an offense that couldnt score enough. Resign grimes, solia and McKinney (draft a left tackle early and groom them for next year) bring Martin back.

lets hope today ireland is fired. and with it comes a new gm who will fire the entire coaching staff

losing to brady + ne 28-0 is 1 thing
but losing to lewis + the bills 19-0 is another

Kris, Happy New Year! Glad to hear you alive and well overseas. Hope you are settling in nicely in Germany (my wife spent a month in Munich this summer and loved it).

As to the question of the day (or decade as it were) my personal opinion (big surprise) is slightly different than yours.

Where we agree is we need to take away any built-in excuses for anyone in the franchise. We've tried multiple strategies in the FO, had numerous coaches, using different personnel, and in the end we're stuck on mediocrity.

The reason is simple, we haven't had a franchise QB here since Marino. Foregoing how we got here, the answer is and has always been, do whatever it takes (meaning spending draft picks and/or acquiring FAs) to fix the QB position. They did it in 2008, then again in 2012, I hope they aren't waiting for the next Presidential election to once again address the position. Tannehill should have had success this year, and since his improvement hasn't been large enough to be beneficial to the team's bottom line, it's time to look for his successor.

Doesn't mean he's out (IMO), just means a light needs to be put under him to let him know this isn't a position for life, and he doesn't have years to develop into a franchise QB. It needs to happen now...or never (at least with this team).

As far as getting rid of everyone, I'd be fine with that too, I just don't see Ross wanting to go that route. However, I would leave it up to the GM. Hire a new GM, and Ross can vouch for Philbin, and tell the new guy he has the final say, however, if he could try and make it work (with Philbin/Tannehill) it would be the Owner's preference and he would not be evaluated negatively if it didn't work (since it was not the GM's groceries). And in that event, the GM can fire Philbin/Tannehill next year and start with a clean slate and his people. That's what I'd do.

Tagnar @ 8:18-
The 49ers were bad for years, until they hired a GOOD COACH. Then what happened in that coach's first season? Miami's coaching staff is BAD. There is a reason why Sherman has been fired from every job he's had. That reason is- he's not very good, and Philbin is nothing more than a figurehead, Sherman's puppet.

philly,new hc new qb,where r they?
kc,new hc new qb,where r they?
continuity huh
yeah,6-10 and 7-9's
is your continuity

still need a qb

At the end of the 2012 season, it was readily apparent to anyone with eyes and a functioning brain that the weakest area of the team was the offensive line.
So did Ireland address and try to improve the OL? Nope. He focused instead on the receiving corp and pass rush.
Now, at the end of the 2013 season, it's readily apparent that the weakest area of the team is still the offensive line. So let's sit back and see if Ireland finally does something about it. I bet not, I bet he focuses instead on defensive tackle as Starks and Soliai are FAs.

fine at qb, need a gm and coaching staff

d Thomas
nuff said

mass hes not gonna get the chance to

A couple of thoughts...with regards to the discussion on which division the Fins should play based on geography and travel, I dont think that would have any bearing on game outcomes. Given the division rivals have to travel the same distances is reverse, and still manage to beat the Fins in their house may be evident enough that the issue of not winning lies elsewhere.

Irrespective of the players which made the 2013 roster, the fact that the OC did not change some schemes, sets, and plays to take advantage of what they did well speaks volumes. For example, the deep ball to Wallace did not work well. So why not hit him on lag and drag patterns where he could catch and run? An eight yard pass that could turn into a sixty yard TD. Furthermore, if the first fly pattern was over/under thrown, but the reciever was open, try it again in another series. Why scrap it altogether? That my fellow fans is poor coaching and worse game planning. So, in the end, while the QB struggles to learn pocket pressence and has long ball accuracy issues, the position coach hired cannot help him with learning how to work the pocket, time his throws (distance, velocity, arc) in order to take advantage of his skills. Because of the sub par coaching Tannehill has had to endure, the book on his projected success is still out.

Also, I don't read much into the Philbin statement. Who really expects him (with the history he has with Sherman) to stick a dagger into his mentor for all to see the day after the season ends? Philbin doesn't seem to be that cold-hearted. The fact that Tannehill is (if those reports were true) actually makes me respect him more. Maybe he sees he can't develop further with Sherman, and knows his career (at least here) is on the line and wants to ensure he has the best possible chance to succeed. Or maybe he's reading the tea leaves and getting in front of what's bound to transpire (which makes him damned smart in my book). Either way, it looks good that he's not willing to go down with a sinking ship.

Philbin being loyal (in public) doesn't bother me as much. Him letting his relationship get in between doing what's best for the team is much more troubling. Saying Sherman is a good coach, while arguably accurate, is meaningless. His offense has regressed in Miami. He's made personnel mistakes. And his system and game-planning/calling has been suspect. Therefore, letting his go doesn't mean he's a bad coach, just not a good fit here. And Philbin, if seeing clearly and without bias, would acknowledge that and make the change because he's here to do right by the Miami Dolphins, not Mike Sherman.

dc philbin has to go also, guy is a joke

who ever gets manziel is an instant playoff team " see lux"
and stfu 'bout his height,he is 1" taller than r Wilson

Happy New Year to you....it has been a heck of a time getting over hear....and I won't really be settled for probably another 30 days or so....long boring story....you wouldn't want to hear it.......but thanks....

were not that far apart (in thinking)....

I understand that Tanne will most likely be the starter next year....and I agree.....he need to understand that he is"QB for life"...that why it is so frustrating that Moore (or anybody) would take a job as a back up....and be CONTENT to be a back up....to a 2ND YEAR PLAYER....so frustrating.....

I understand if your backing up one of the all time greats who has dine it for a decade or so....yeah...sign on...get paid...never learn the play book....and hope the starter never gets hurt...but to have that mentality with a WR who plays QB.....something is wrong with that.....and Moore can find the door with the rest of the non-competitive teammates and coaches....

I don't want the new GM to waste any time with a throw away year on Philbin to appease Ross...we have thrown away far to many already.....That is why i think they need to all go now...or all stay together...and sink or swim with this ship....

neither jacksonville nor oakland will be a playoff team with ot without manziel, who should be fun to watch but also a turnover machine in nfl

Continuity is only appropriate when you have the right GM and coach in place. The Phins don't.

True DC...

his "Excellent Coach" statement was neither here nor there for me...and really answered nothing....

but my concern...again...Sherman goes...

Built in excuse for the offense.....and i'm not buying that....

Nick Foles seemed to adjust plenty well.....and he looks like a high school kid...

Gotta take my nephew on a walk of the neighborhood....

see his school...and I need to look @ some beater cars.....

later fellas....

you to Moron...

Why hasnt Ireland been fired?

Another point in regards to continuity - the Phins have had the same GM for 6 years now. How is that continuity working out?

tnt zonk tnt

Draft Johnny Manziel. He doesnt need a great OL to succeed.

Not fine at qb. What you have seen the past 2 seasons is what you will get in the future, which is garbage. All you losers said the same thing about henne.

hoping today is the day ireland finally gets canned

Tannehill is pathetic. Its back to the draft for a QB.

If Philbin can't distinguish the difference between business and friendship, he's as much a part of the problem as his assistant coaches. The facts don't lie, our offense and defense have regressed under this staff the past two years. Make changes, or be part of the changes--period.

Everyone is focusing on the 8 games we lost, how about the 8 we won?

Come from behind win against Luck & Colts
Come from behind win against Ryan & Falcons
Overtime win against Dalton & Bengals
Close win against Rivers & Chargers
Complete game against Jets
Dramatic win against Rothlisberger & Steelers
Even more dramatic win against Brady & Pats

...and the heartbreaking losses:

Ravens - 26/23 - Thill sacked out of FG range
Bills 23/20 - see above
Bucs 22/19 - Defense fell apart
Panthers 20/16 - Cam converts 4th and 20 late in game

...the last two loses will never be mentioned in Dolphins lore again.

Point is, we beat quality teams and lost very close games to others. You are what your record says you are but Philbin has a point...we are CLOSE.

In my humble opinion, Sherman mismanaged the offense on numerous occasions and I can't remember a single game this season where he didn't call at least 5-10 plays that left even the casual fan scratching his head. He needs to go. Tannehill didn't progress as much as Sherman predicted he would, and that falls on Sherman as much as it does Tannehill.

As for Philbin, I think his ceiling is as an assistant coach. He's not a head coach. He never quite seemed to have his finger on the pulse of this team or the mood in the locker room. I'm not saying he needs to act like Rex Ryan, but showing a little emotion every now and again would be encouraging. He's like a robot, dry and monochromatic. I think the Dolphins are better off without him but Ross will likely give him one more season.

Finally, the ever clueless Jeff Ireland needs to leave ASAP. The offensive line is a mess, Dion Jordan practically never saw the field, no other draft picks in the 2013 Draft made any kind of impact on the team this year, and it gets worst every season. Please get rid of Ireland. He knows not what he does.

nh 8-8 isnt close to anything good

Tony Soprano for a chance much longer than Philbin hashad. I believe Philbin is close and should get a chance to prove it. Look at fatty in NY he has not made the playoffs in how long? Cleaning house digressez this team. I do believe that while Philbin should stay Sherman should be fired. The offense did not perform at all, and like the rest I believe he hinders the development of Tannehill. In regards to Ireland I think he needs one more season to plug the holes. I have been very critical of him in the past but would any of us rather have Rick Spielman back? At least we can all agree that Ireland has done a better job than any GM we have had in the last decade.

Can anyone shed light on why ST coach Darren Rizzi is ALWAYS in Philbin's ear? I get the impression he's keeping Philbin tuned in to what's going on! Rizzi appears to be a better than average ST coach but he's a former small school player/coach with very limited NFL experience (3 yrs) and he's coaching up and advising an NFL head coach during a game? That's scary! It just lends credence to the notion that Philbin is clueless.

Ireland has done a better job at what he does, than Philbin has done at what he does. So if Ireland should be fired, then how in the world can Philbin stay on?

both have to go peter. start with ireland today

Firing assistants?? LMFAO!!

DB...point is, we had many close games and IMO only got blown out in 2: Saints/Bills ... the last Jets game was questionable as we had a chance to comeback late in the game.

Blowing up a team does more harm than good...but agree the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

8-8 is not good, agreed.
But blowing up the structure opens the possibility of being a 2-14 team next year so be careful what you wish for.

2-14 > 8-8

ill take my chances nh, get this horrible regime out of here

2-14 = easier sched,better draft pix and no nite games which suxx

Philbin is as doomed as Sparano was with Ireland as his GM.

2watt...we suxx on national tv anyway so it may do us a favor ... lol

Great point by Peter!

2-14 = the rogues running the blog as usual and the homers cowering in the back of their caves mumbling away in their delusional states as usual

if any1 hears anything pls blog

2 watt, Philly and KC don't scare nobody.
Miami can beat them even with a crappy line.
So what's your point?


After the GENERAL MANAGER, COACH, Offensive and Defensive Coordinator is Fixed
The Dolphins need to address Tail and Full Backs.

“ Remember the top Running Backs for the Miami Dolphins”
Miami has appeared TO 20 play off games////// Only Appeared One time the last 13 years 2001

The last 13 seasons Miami has been talking about QB and Offensive Linemen Important!
But the Record shows a talented Fullback and Tailback got the fins two Super Bowl Wins!



I have been usually willing to exercise patience and give a GM and HC three to four years to bring in players that complement their joint vision. I wanted Sparano out the day he arrived and I felt Ireland was worth keeping. I didn't know much about the unproven Philbin but figured a high character stable guy would be good.

Now that I look at the two at the end of 2013 I have to put much more accountability on Philbin. How can a team beat several playoff level teams and then fail against Tampa, Bills (twice) and the Jets? Especially the last two games when the playoffs were clearly on the line and within reasonable reach?

I really don't mind if Ireland goes but I just can't honestly say this year's failure was his fault primarily. I put much more of the owness on Philbin and his staff for that.

6 inches and they run the ball with clay, comical

Ireland positives - In 2012 everyone wanted a QB and he took THill which was really his only safe call. Luck and Rg3 were not in his reach. wilson could have been selected but every NFL team had Thill rated higher. I liked his aggressiveness in Free Agency. Most fans were calling for Wallace and he got him. Most wanted Grimes and he got him. Most liked the Keller and Gibson moves. Most wanted LB upgrades he got them (at least most believed he did when the moves were made. In the draft most wanted him to use his top selections for new DE, CB and OT. He jumped up and took what many believed was the top pass rusher. He picked two highly rated CB's. I was fine with the picks at the time because he had Martin, Clabo and Garner for OT competition.

Ireland negatives - The big mistake was not signing Albert. He was loaded with cash and showing bravery in Free agency but he didn't pull the trigger on Albert. He couldn't know about cogs and Martin collapse, that is not on Ireland. I rally don't like the choice to pick three players in top three rounds who were injured. Bad move there. Although I hated Carpenter for blowing two games in 2012 and was thrilled they got Sturgis at the time, I have to say that clearly Carpenter was better at least last year. I do hope Sturgis shows better in 2014 but I do think some of the missed FG's were onPhilbin (forcing kicks over 50 yards in situations that were not wise).

The first and most critical question to answer is this - Is Ryan Tannehill going to become a franchise QB? If the answer is yes then Jeff Ireland stays. If the answer is no then Ireland goes and the coaches stay. My logic is simple, if this staff can take an average QB with no OL and still go 8-8 beating four playoff teams then they deserve another chance.

Most QB's use cadence with numbers before the ball is snapped Tannehill says go how simplistic can it be?

Philbin positives - high character and stable force for team. No none sense guy. Believes in his approach and is working to bring players that fit his model. But what else would anyone really say are glowing aspects of Philbin? I am really struggling to find them here?!?!

Philbin negatives - So set on character he let Marshall go. He let Dansby go. He let Davis go. All. Went on and succeeded. He stands on consistency and stability but he lacks a sense of fiery leadership that is really needed to drive accountabilities and inspire players during games. He brought in Sherman and allowed him to bring in inexperienced coaches. He and Sherman are supposed to be offensive gurus but can't utilize the talent they have to create a more successful offensive unit. He brought in Coyle but they couldn't utilize the rookie Jordan or the rookie CBs. Wake had his production drop in a year they picked Jordan first?!? Jones was misused all yer. They couldn't effectively use the LBs they brought in. I agree those two played poorly but I am sure they will show progress when they go somewhere else. Philbin made some bad judgement calls throughout the year going for long filed goals with a shaky rookie Kicker and going for short yardage plays on 4th down knowing their lack of short yardage success.

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