« Names, people to keep in mind in coming days | Main | Stephen Ross at Dolphins camp today »

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.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


The assistant GM maybe promoted and Ireland out.
He's been making some noise around the NFL.

“ Remember the top Running Backs for the Miami Dolphins”

10. Mark Higgs rand for 900 yards in 1991 and 1992
8. Lamar Smith Ran for 1,139 yards in 2000 His 209 yard rushing day i the playoffs against Indianapolis was cap that season by a 17-yard touchdown run for the overtime win. He ran for 968 yards 2001.
7. Delvin Williams rush for 1,258 in 1978.
6. Ronnie Brown three season 900 yards and 1008 yards in 2006.
5. Tony Nathan a dual threat career 3,543 yards rushing and 3,592 yards receiving.
4: He led the team in rushing and was second in receiving for four seasons. In their first couple seasons, he was considered the better back than Larry Csonka to the point he got the Butch Cassidy Nickname
3. Mercury Morris (Supper Bowl Ring)
His outside speed and running talent demanded Don Shula invent the idea of situational substitution.

u were fine with martin,clabo,garner?? lol trading up to take jordan horrible. 2 corners terrible picks ,couldnt even get on field. nobody wanted wheeler,nobody except craig maybe. couldnt sign albert, but had the trade for him but was to stubborn to do it.

I need everyone to go read John in Springs post at 7:17 he spot on with his assessment!!

Jpao, im glad your on board with firing Philbin and the clueless staff I as well as other posters such as dusty seen it coming weeks back.

Truth = John in Springs?

Remember the BEST TWO Running Backs for the Miami Dolphins”

2.Ricky Williams
He has a unique Dolphins career marked by leading the league in rushing, leaving for tent in Australia and working his way back into a major role with Tony Sparano
2002---16 TD------1,853 yards\
2003--- 9 TD------ 1,372 yards
2005--- 6 TD ------ 743 yards
2008----4 TD--------659 yards
2009----11 TD ------ 1,121 yards
2010----2 TD ------- 673 yards

48 Touch Downs 6 Touch Downs Receiving
18 Fumbles


1. ( Fullback Larry Csonka
(Super Bowl Ring)
6,737 yards in the playoff

1. 1968 to 1979 LARRY Total Yards with Miami 6737 yards 4 receiving touch downs
18 Fumbles
54 Touch Downs

Steve....how can you summarize dolphins running backs and NOT mention Ricky Williams?

Mr. Ross,
Nobody was thinking super bowl or even a guaranteed playoffs at the beggining of the year. We were looking for progress, significant progress given that Mr. Ireland has been iur GM for quite awhile now and a coaching staff in their second full season.

We regressed, and THAT is the problem most fans have. I understand a QB takes time to develop, I actually liked to see Sherman groom his QB with a pass first, run last mentality or else you see what happened to RG3, but then the lack of talent particularly in the OL caught up with this team.

That being said, a competent staff would have deviced ways to overcome those shortcomings but we saw none of that. Mr. Philbin simply does not have the command this team needs. You can attribute the offensive blues to lack of talent but how can you explain th collapse of your defense when it is loaded with good players?

I think most fans are all in for continuity but what we've seen from coach Philbin is just so utterly bad that allowing him one more year to coach our team will set us further behind that what we already are.

The cherry on top is Philbin trying to insult our intelligence with statements such as "we are really close", what on earth is he talking about??!!! How are we close to win a SB when we have to completely redo the OLine except for your center? Just talk to us like adults, admit your mistakes and show some humility and passion for the game every now and then.

Mr. Philbin chose to bring his cronies and now he is emasculated to make any tough decisions, he brought that to himself. Please remember he is a first time head coach and will take maybe a second stint elsewhere for him to succeed, it happens a lot. He is just not the guy you need here right now. It is time you hit reset and start all over again, good news is you do have some talent in this roster to make this difficult, but necessary executive decision, less painful.

NH, you're right, those were quality wins (and shows the team has talent), however, looking further into the losses only solidifies the problem is more than talent, it's coaching.

- How do you lose to a backup QB after a bye week (looking as flat as Miami played)? Yes, the Bills personnel was problematic for Miami (our weaknesses played to their strengths), but this was in the middle of the season. You had 2 weeks to prepare for them. Not having a plan was downright amateur (for the coaching staff).

- Then you finally come out strong for a game the next week (vs. Pats), go up 17 points, and COMPLETELY flounder 2nd half, making no adjustments to their halftime adjustments? Again, unacceptable.

- Panthers game, that score before the half when Coyle puts everyone back in Hail Mary defense and they pass underneath for a FG. Honestly, that was worthy of firing Coyle right there.

- And then the last two games, which IMO, were more important than any win this season. Wallace said in the interview after that the Jets had more energy than Miami. That goes to passion. That goes to coaching. Yes, players need to motivate themselves, but coaches are there to ADD A SPARK AND GIVE A TEAM AN EDGE. ALL THE GREAT coaches did that, now you have Philbin saying that not "his style." Sorry, Philbin doesn't have any resume that gives him the designation of having a "style" that an exception to what other great coaches have done.

Frankly, with different coaching (same players) I believe we'd be playing Cincinnati this weekend (very least).

No Hmmmmm, i just think John post was outstanding... Man I hope Johnny Football drops in the draft and we select him in the first round. This guy had the 'it' factor ppl talk about when a guy us a potential star. Hes smallish but his accuracy and poise in the pocket is already superior to Tannehill. Hes able to make plays out of nothing. I realize half the running around stuff he does will mot work in the pros but hes instinctive enough to adjust as he matures in the QB role in the NFL.

I see him as a more athletic Dree Brees doubt Johnnt M if youd like but has the makeup of a good QB unlike our WR playing the QB possition.

Go get Johnny Football!!!

Excellent post Kris, right on the money. Remember when Ireland traded up and we all thought Mallett was coming here? And then picked...Daniel Thomas. SMH

Seems to me that Philbin and his staff are operating with a sense of 'protect and defend.' That is no healthy.

Philbin will say and do all he can to protect Sherman. He knows he brought him onto the team and therefore looks bad himself if Sherman fails.

Sherman is doing the same with THILL. I am sure his endorsement went a very long way in Philbin and Irelad agreeing to pick Thill. So, I really think Sherman is purposely trying to simplify the offense so that his young QB can success. I get that but I think he has gone too far. Cadence is so pedestrian. He is not taking advantage of THILL's mobility forcing him to be a pocket passer.

I really see Sherman as the core problem. Phlbin sees him as a great coach and mentor and maybe that is preventing him from seeing all of Sherman's failures. In addition to protecting/limiting THILL I think Sherman has made many other bad judgement calls.

He forced his system on the team and not adjusting his approach to fit his players. He had grinders on the OL and forced them into Zone Blocking. He had Wallace and made him one dimensional. He had Miller and Thomas, both great pass catchers, and almost never called screens. He had no full back but continued to line up in goal line formation on shortyardage instead of spreading the field to create running room.

If Philbin won't fire Sherman then Ross needs to see that is a tell tale sign of an inflexible HC who needs to be removed.

At Scott lemon, yes tannehill has improved 80% since last year and with limited college experience. Don't throw he hasn't won a playoff game crap in his second season. Nobody could win or make a playoff game with that sad O-line. Not even Brady.

Great posts today DC hit the nail. I think now the water has settled we can really see the glaring flaws of the coaching staff. Philbin may one day become a good coach elsewhere but right here right now he is not the guy and with the current talent we do have in this roster we can not afford for Philbin to grow into the job.

He need an experienced HC. Lovie Smith would have been a great hire the more I think about it. He would have made our D nasty. I like somewhat Ross is taking his time to reach a verdict but he should have been ready for the worse and have a plan B by now, esp given the whole Bullygate fiasco. That shows he wants to be in charge but ultimately probably does not have the time to do so. He needs a czar type figure like Bill Polian.

OK, enough of this back and forth BS about changes, firings, etc. I have the solution. If I were Ross, I'd bring in the entire coaching staff and Ireland into my office and tell them, "gentlemen, you have one more season. YOU MUST come in as the #1 or #2 seed in the playoffs in 2014 and YOU MUST make it past the first playoff game. If you come short, no matter how short, YOU WILL ALL BE FIRED. If during the season it appear that you will be falling short, then you WILL BE FIRED at that point. Understood? If not and you don't like it, I am taking resignations right now. Don't let the door hit you in the arse."

Its so funny how ppl dont realize Tannehill the dame exact player he was in college!! Same player!! Hell make a couple plays, throw for some yards here and there but when you need him in the 4th he'll choke away games with a crtical interception and cant throw accuratley deeper than 20 yards... A real QB came to A&M the next year after Tannehill left and you see how much better they were!

Johnny football will be a bust in the pros. Mark that down.

Tannehill has been in the same offense he has in college. That why he looks the same. But his Oline way way better at A@M and he did way better this season with the worst online. Get him a better line and maybe different offensive philosophy to utilize his talents more.

People here have said that the Pats HC is also quiet and stoic on the sidelines, I beg to differ. You look at what Bilicheat does during the game. He goes over to discuss things with the OL, he strategizes with Brady and with his defensive players and assistants constantly.

Have any of you ever seen Philbin stop staring at the field as if fixed in a trance and see him actually go speak with anyone on any part of his staff about anything other than gum wrappers on the field?

I've never seen him grab a chalk board, or go over photos with the O or the D. I've rarely even seen him so much as talk to a player as he leaves the field.

He is a comatose spectator, that is his role on game day. He may as well be sitting in the blue seat section.

Sherman's offense = very boring

Time to get rid of the Texas A&M play book. Enough already!

I've not heard one good arguement for keeping Philbin yet.

It is absolutely necessary to retain Jeff Ireland, as the only alternative at GM is bringing back Rick Spielman. Let's give him another year to see if things improve. Six years is an awfully short time to accomplish much of anything. And I would like to sincerely thank my fellow Jeff Ireland apologists for doing the heavy lifting on this board this morning.

This is a very touchy situation. Joe Philbin is a brilliant coach that has gotten this team to completely by into his system, but there can be serious disconnect within our coaching staff if Philbin is forced to fire Mike Sherman & Joe Philbin doesn't know of another OC that he will definitely mesh with him well together. My opinion is if Stephen Ross fires Jeff Ireland, Mike Sherman & possibly other assistants, he might as well fire Joe Philbin too. That means another head coach starting all over again trying to get this team to buy into the system. That means depending on how the new employees work out, this team will either get better or worse. We just better hope that if Ross cleans house he BETTER hire the right GM or this team will be worse off than we are right now. I said it before & I'll say it again. If Miami is going to fire Jeff Ireland, he must do that first & let the new GM decide who is retained & who is not. And if it is not acceptable or uncomfortable for Philbin, then he has to go too. The 2 best GM candidates are Tom Gamble & Jason Licht.

If Ireland is fired I consider this season a success and vow to buy tickets to 2 games next season to show my support. I cant buy season tickets as I would like to eat this year. :)

Tell the Chiefs and Eagles that regime change doesn't work.

Posted by: dbo the great | January 02, 2014 at 10:17 AM

As Philbin states its a team sport, don't blame the o-line. Thill had plenty of time against the Jets and missed his recievers all day, which cost us the game.

Why does the Defense get a pass, especially LBs??? The D was horrible this year.

Just to throw something out there if not for anything more than perhaps to stir up chit a bit. The Fins should do WHATEVER it takes, including trading players and lots and lots of drafts picks, to move up and somehow snatch up Johnny Manziel. He WILL be a top 5 QB in the NFL and I see him as another Drew Breese. The guy is SPECIAL. He may not be tall, but he is very big in how he plays and how he leads. He has the IT factor.

Jamar Taylor 2nd round = Bust

Boykin from Eagles 4th round = Super ★

Wheeler and Ellerbee can't stop the run = Bust


Why are we focusing only on Sherman? We really need to look at Coyle. His defense scheme isn't working. We clearly have the talent on the defensive front but we're terrible at holding any lead. Can't stop the run.. How about we get rid of coyly too...

agree also on d, it was a joke. coyle has to go also, empty the entire house

We had the ammo to trade up last year. Its to late now.

FYI, the schedule is very brutal.

Yeah right. So big Ben didn' t do it? He had sh%t lines for years. Dblow you are a idiot!

Posted by: URFIRED | January 02, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Sure, why not ? We went all out for Jordan and that worked well.

Coyle = Bust

I hate his zone on 3rd and long. It disturbs me.

To urfired at 10.11 am
That should be rosses demeanor for 2014 . 2014 is make or breack time for everyone. If the pieces are added a solid RB. Resignning keller to another season. And the offensive line is improved. I expect the number 1 or 2 seed in the afc. I mean kc and denver are in the same division they are favorites for the first seed next year. Then the biggest competition will be the colts(personally the bengals are overated andy dalton is a turnover machine). I posted that if we get the talent for the offense i expected 12 wins next season.

2014 back to the playoffs!!!!!

Posted by: Jlkella | January 02, 2014 at 10:25 AM

Sure, the O is the talking point because it was more pathetic than the D. The truth is they were both terrible and yet Philbin, in charge of both gets a pass, crazy, the guy is terrible.

John 7:17 could not agree more. Philbins team laid down in epic proportions when it counted. This should be unacceptable. Completely outcoached all year and way over his head.

I assume Ross was looking for Dungy type with this hire but Dungy could actually coach football.

if we get a new GM hopefully he gets his own coach.

John with another good post.. Johnny Football is 10x the QB Tannehill is far more accurate, instintive, and leader. If you think hes gonna be a bust in the NFL and not Tannehill you dont know football.

Will he throw pics in the Nfl yes cause he have a gun slinger menntatily but will he make plays for your team you can bet on it. A&M got 10x better with the same players once Johnny M took over the team. Ill bet Tannehill will be more of a bust than Johnny!

How much time did Tannehill have in the Jets game???? He got sacked 0 times!! Once Hartline went out we all knew it was over. Do yiu know what Tom Brady would do with a guy like Mike Wallace try 1200 receier yards and 10 TDs!

Bring in some competition at the QB posistion!!!

Sherman is a good coach but he's got crap for QB, and RB's.

truth manziel has the it factor, will be exciting. but he will also be a turn over machine in the nfl.

Don't think of Dion Jordan as a draft bust that cost us a first and second round pick. Think of him as a "failed experiment" of a brilliant GM who, like all of us on this board, makes a mistake from time to time.

John Jerry = Another Irescum bust

Dusty so was Brett Farve my bet is he"ll make more plays than TOs tho.

Anyone remember AJ Francis? The DT during preseason
I remember he made more plays that game than Starks did the entire season!
I sure hope he gets his chance in 2014.

it was just on ESPN that Philbon will be back next year. So will Jeff Ireland...If this is true Ross is a big joke and we the fans need to do something now. Lets join together and boycott this sorry excuse of a team. If we hit Ross in the pocket maybe he will get a grip and do something. Best case scenario Ross sells the team and gets the hell out.

Tell the Chiefs and Eagles that regime change doesn't work.

Posted by: Marco | January 02, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Difference is, the guys they brought in had dynamic systems. In the case of Reid, his was NFL-proven offensive system. Kelly wasn't NFL-proven, but it was so dynamic it stunned the NFL (just like college).

That's what I want from a coordinator (since the HC doesn't have one). A proven system. Someone mentioned Lovie Smith. Notice what happened to the Bears defense when him (and Ron Rivera) left. Fell flat. His is a PROVEN defensive system. Like Rex Ryan.

We brought in 2 coordinators, one a old head (the game seemed to pass by) and the other a proven position coach but unexperienced (rookie) coordinator.

We need a system that can withstand injury, personnel changes, anything and still keep ticking. That's why I find Kyle Shanahan intriguing. He has a good system. I watched a lot of Redskins games, and their offense generally wasn't the problem. Their defense was atrocious. RG3 was wildly inaccurate and they STILL put up 20 or so points a game (last year they were 4th in the NFL). They had a 1,000 yd RB as well both seasons. Kyle utilizes the zone blocking scheme Philbin prefers. And he's shown the ability to adjust his system to his personnel (it was different in Houston than it was in DC).

Kyle has his negatives too (many in DC blame him for decision-making, getting away from the run in games, play-calling), so I'm not saying he's a sure bet. But someone LIKE him, young, proven system, smart, creative is what we need as a coordinator (forget these old timers, they can't relate to today's professional athlete as well, on the whole).

Let this soaked in your head!!! Tannehill got sacked 0times in the Jets game and the offense put up 7 freakin pts!!! Part blame is Sherman part blame is Thill hes mediocre

Our fans have blown this whole thing completely out of proportion. Because our players didn't fight & play hard for this team in those last 2 games a good coaching staff & a league average GM are possibly loosing their jobs & taking us where we have NO IDEA how it will end up. Make no mistake people ! All this could be for the better, but it can get a whole lot worse too. If we end up changing our GM & shuffling the coaching staff, this team can go in any direction depending on how well the new employees do their jobs. All you people claiming victory for getting Jeff Ireland better hope the new GM that takes over is better & not worse, because a bad GM will set us back for another decade for sure. If Miami is going to fire Ireland, they BETTER clean house & bring in a great GM our we are sunk & everyone will complain even worse than they are now over the next few years.

Marco you do realize Tannehill played the last two games with an injured knee that forced him to throw off his back foot right? Even Mike Westhoff pointed it out and he's not even with the team or a fan. Your stupidity never ceases to amaze.

ESPN report MADE MY DAY!!!!
I hope my posts in some way whipped up the groundswell of fan support for this fine GM.
And you can bet, I will continue posting my praise of Jeff Ireland during the upcoming season, which, judging by the brutal schedule, will be a huge validation of Jeff Ireland's personnel moves if the Dolphins record is anything better than 5-11.

Its so funny how ppl dont realize Tannehill the dame exact player he was in college!! Same player!! Hell make a couple plays, throw for some yards here and there but when you need him in the 4th he'll choke away games with a crtical interception and cant throw accuratley deeper than 20 yards... A real QB came to A&M the next year after Tannehill left and you see how much better they were!

Posted by: Truth | January 02, 2014 at 10:12 AM

I would really check your facts before you post, it makes you look like a Dumb a ss.

Posted by: DC Dolfan | January 02, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Its not that they were dynamic, its more they were successful and won games thanks to their systems. We lost games thanks to our systems. Teams found ways to beat us easily. Come the 4th quarter we were just pathetic on O and D.

I love how Bill A is still posting under different names, and saying the same crap. Huh PHD, good to see your still around. idiot

There are some odds-n-ends questions I would love to see in a blog Mando:

- What's up with Dustin Keller? He had a 1 yr contract, is he thinking of trying to play again, or will he retire? Would Miami give him another chance with another 1 yr contract, or will they look to go a different direction?

- Any word from the league when the Wells report will come out? Next couple weeks, or are we talking after the SuperBowl? And that Dungy committee working on locker room rules, what's the timetable on that?

- What about the other injuries (Binns, Gibson, etc.)? Any timetable on those players being ready for OTAs?

Let this soaked in your head!!! Tannehill got sacked 0times in the Jets game and the offense put up 7 freakin pts!!! Part blame is Sherman part blame is Thill hes mediocre

Posted by: Truth | January 02, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Thats the truth !!!

Come on ross, fun"k failbin. Ross is such a pu##y that he is going to let failbin keep his staff. Grow some balls you sorry piece of sh$t!

Ryan Tannehill = Another Irescum bust

« 1 2 3 4 5 6 »

The comments to this entry are closed.