« 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.


Dude, if you are comparing picking a Johnny Manziel to picking Jordan, you are delusional. Someone on this thread posted that JM was going to be an NFL bust, well, I am willing to bet it will be to complete opposite. Back to Jordan, the guy was damaged goods entering the draft, JM isn't. JM is a difference maker and the guy has ice running through his veins, Jordan isn't and doesn't. I just hope JM doesn't wind up on a team that the Fins faces regularly because it will be a nightmare for Miami. JM will be Drew Breese 2.0. You saw it here first.

When Philbin said the team is close because if they would have won one more game, then his goals are what worries me. Just making the playoffs is the goal? Philbin has no clue how to win a SB then. You have to win your division and get home field, not just sqeeek into the playoffs. So if Philbins goal is to be 9-7, fire him today. The Dolphins need a coach that wants to win the division get a bye and have homefield in the playoffs. Not almost make the playoffs. The Dolphins need to re-evaluate their goals.

Everything goes hand in hand. The GM assists the Coaching staff and vice versa.

This is why i say a house cleaning needs to happen. Ireland has been here 6 years. In a supposed rebuild, a team should come out of it quicker than that. The pieces should fall into place much sooner and results should appear on the field in much quicker fashion.

2013 was a season where the GM and coaching staff showed more times than not they failed in their plan. The plan was playoffs. No more no less.

Well im no brainiac but they fell short of that goal. so keeping that in mind how is one more year going to change anything. Next year there are more holes to fill than going into the offseason last year. This team isnt closer to playoffs if you take that into consideration.

If Ross doesnt want to lose this fan base completely then Ireland, Philbin and the whole staff must be fired.

Not to worry guys. They will all be fine and find work elsewhere in the NFL.

How long must we all endure mediocrity

Ross is on the way to Davie, he's been gone all week.

It's time...

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

We WISH he was NEAR mediocre. He's just F'N terrible.

Ross will cave because he doesn't know football from jack and sucks as an owner.

I read that a condition set by Steven Ross is that Jeff Ireland not draft injured players this year. As if Jeff Ireland hadn't learned that hard lesson already! What an insult to a Jeff Ireland, truly a great GM.

Posted by: URFIRED | January 02, 2014 at 10:44 AM

Ok JM will be Drew Brees. Do we really want another Aggies on here at QB ? The last douche to play here has stunk the place up... sorry Bill.

I understand completely the firings of Ireland and Sherman (as well as Turner). Ireland should have been fired last season but stayed on to make such great decisions as:

- Jake Long: We don't really need him right? Jonathan Martin will do just fine.
- Dion Jordan: Trade up for a guy that we're only going to use on rare occasion as a situational guy?
- Reggie Bush: We don't need him right? Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas (why is this guy still on the roster???) will do great!

Here is what I don't understand. Reports are that Ross wants to keep Philbin. Why? A team that plays like it has absolutely no heart or desire to win games with the playoffs on the line. Isn't that ultimately the head coach's job? The Jets had nothing to play for but they played their hearts out for their coach. As much as I don't like Rex, he can motivate his players. I don't think Philbin can.

There is also this issue of the defense. Who's decision is it to use our blockbuster #3 draft pick sparingly? Terrible. People can blame the LBs, but I see this as a coaching problem. What is this phenomenon of players that were good come here to play mediocre/poor and then leave to go somewhere else and play good again. That has happened with Dolphin LBs for the past few years.

Here's a fun stat of the day:

NO Dolphins head coach has left Miami and became a HC for another NFL team.

Shula - retired
Johnson - retired
Wannstash - college
Bates - assistant coach
Saben - college
Cameron - asst coach, fired
Sparano - asst coach, fired
Bowles - asst coach

Point being, no one leaves Miami on a high note as a coveted HC.

*Note - If Saben was able to get Brees vs. Culpepper we would have had two Lombardi trophies by now.

No one should be praising or doubting Ryan Tannehill yet. We will know how good he is withing the next 2 years. He has improved this year, but only marginally. Next year will be the year that he will either take a major jump as a franchise QB OR he won't & be nothing more than a league average QB. People need to realize that Tannehill only had 1 year of college QB'ing experience unlike other draftees that normally get 3 to 4 years. Tannehill also played behind the worst offensive line in the NFL this year. So if anyone is calling him a star OR a bust at this point, they are complete idiots !

Someone mentioned the Fins' schedule for 2014. It will definitely be "brutal". As a matter of fact, if the Fins don't drastically fix ALL the issues they have, 2014 will be an emotionally painful season for die-hard fans. I personally don't get emotionally vested in any sports team, but for those that do, pray that the Fins get their chit together or 2014 will be one ugly season.

In the last two games the Fins had no heart. Philbin has no heart. If any one of you out there were told in your contract if you win 1 of the last two games you get playoff bonuses plus you get to be paid for playing in the playoff games you would have found a way to win! They should have never wasted a 1st. round pick on Tannehill he only played 1 yr. at college Q.B. They should have stayed with Moore starting and waited for this Q. B. draft class. On to Ross. He is clueless. He thinks you buy an NFL team and wait for it to appreciate in value like real estate. The only value is in winning. This team isn't worth 5 cents right now. This guy is not a football person ( just listen to his idiot a@# in the pre-season interviews, he has no clue about football)he thought he could make a profit on the team. He totally disregards what the Fin fans want. No-one should buy tickets next season. Also can someone get the trainers to check Philbin for a pulse, he may not have one!

The Bleacher Report has Tannehill rated as the 30th QB in the league. Not even Henne was ever that low.

Rick you must have been a henne supporter too. Look, you can tell if a qb has what it takes in 2 years or if he doesn't t. Hennehill doesn' t have it. He proved that. What else do you need to see?


I think Ross sees Philbin as a guy who wont rock the boat and challenge ownership with decisions made towards the product on the field. Philbin doesnt have the emotional makeup to fight or challenge decisions making him really a "YES" man of the organization. Philbin cant even script his own press conferences

Football is a game of emotion whether it be good or bad and to be void of it as Philbin is, we wont go anywhere. The players have adopted his attitude and the last to games prove it to a tee.

As long as Ross is raking in the dollars through ticket sales and tv money as well as merchandise, nothing will change around here as he has his YES man.

Im sure Philbin is a nice guy but nice and the NFL dont mesh.

Ross will give us all the company lines that he wants to win and that hes doing his best to bring a winner. Well if thats true Steve then you need to clean house because this staff and winning shouldnt be used in the same breath

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.

Posted by: dbo the great | January 02, 2014 at 10:17 AM
and tchoke went 7-6 just like in the nfl

A few random thoughts...

Looks like Ross will half step again, just like when he fired Sparano and not Ireland too. Reminded of a quote from 'Yoda'..."Do or do not, there is no try"

Whether Philbin gets the ax this year or the next he sealed his own fate hiring unproven/incompetent assistants. Sherman, Coyle, Zac Taylor...do you really see all of them getting fired?

The decisions or lack thereof this year have almost guaranteed another poor season next year. How can any team replace almost the whole O-line? Will we be able to get a real tailback? How about a FB Philbin decided we didn't need? How about those 2 LBs with guaranteed contracts you can't replace? What about a blocking TE?
That's a lot to hope for.

The situation with Mike Wallace, to me, was a microcosm of what is wrong with this team. We sign Wallace to a massive contract, a contract so big that it kept us from upgrading the OT and RB spots (which we all knew would be problem areas). Then we go into the season, and Wallace plays a marginal role in the offence, sometimes being a focal point but often being ignored in favour of Gibson, Hartline and Clay. My question is, why was this allowed to happen? Why was Wallace brought in? Surely there were cheaper options out there. To invest what they did in Wallace, combined with what he cost the organization in terms of neglecting other positions, and knowing that he was the only big-play option on offence, and then to simply make him just another guy on offence is a headscratcher. And it makes me thing that Jeff Ireland and Joe Philbin/Mike Sherman are not even in the same playbook. Miami runs a very conservative, predictable offence, despite the run-throw ratio being so lopsided. In that case, they should have been looking for OL upgrades, a big slot receiver and a back that can carry the ball 300 times.

Ireland has had his shot. This team has had 5 consecutive non-winning seasons. Nowhere else in the NFL would that be acceptable. Not even the Rooney's would put up with that from someone with zero record of success. As far as Philbin and the rest of the staff, that should be up to a new GM. Forcing Philbin to fire Sherman will do nothing, because he'll just find Sherman 2.0. If Ross is just going to pull a half measure, might as well stick with the status quo.

Trade TannePuke for a 4th-5th rd pick before he becomes as worthless as Henne was.

I'll try again shall I.

Your claims Thill had a injured knee are weak. He looked fine on the 20 yard run, until he pathetically went into the slide..... that ok for you Mando ?

UrFired, i agree JM is the much better prospect at QB than Tannehill who stinks! I cant believe Ross will keep Ireland and Philbin for another year adter watching the pathetic effort giving the last 2 games.

I can understand if they were had fought CLOSE games!! But we got manhandled in both games the games werent even competitive... What does that tell you??? I just dont understand

Winning is not a requirement for a Steve Ross GM.

Posted by: NHFINSFAN | January 02, 2014 at 10:53 AM
You didn't mention that after his triumphant stint with the Jets, Tony Sparano moved on this year to become assistant head coach for the Oakland Raiders, and helped guide them to their 4-12 record.


I personally don't care if JM is an Aggie, a Taggie, or a Waggie. All I care about is whether the guy can play the position of QB. JM can, even at 6'1". He can throw, run when he has to, gets rid of the ball when he has to, can read defenses and adjust on the spot. JM has quick release, something that made Marino a great QB. Lastly, the man has leadership skills, he has a chip or two on his shoulders. Put it all together and you get a star QB. Truthfully, I think he is much better than Teddy Bridgewater. Just my opinion for what it's worth.

Women are ok but only another dude really knows what feels good.

@ scott lemire : There are QB's still playing in college that has had more QB snaps than Ryan Tanneill. Do you still think it's far to judge him now ?

Johnathan Martin = Another Irescum bust

Oh by the way Chad Henne played 3 years of QB at Michigan to Tannehills 1.

Simply stated, Ireland needs to go. He simply HAS NOT EVER brought in game changing players.

He's brought safe, decently productive players. That's simply not good enough.

I don't have issue with the Tanne pick like Kris does, but, like him, I too wanted Ireland to take Mallett. He was a 1st round talent, you take a chance in round 2 or 3 & minimize the potential loss.

You cannot have an offense this inept without someone paying the price. Turner & Sherman must go. IMHO, Coyle deserves to be fired equally as much. The strength of the team turned out to be it's biggest weakness.

YES! IF the D played to it's potential, it would have landed us at least 11 wins, inspite of the late season troubles on offense. The D underperformed much worse than the offense.

I don't see many people wanting to fire Coyle when he is as deserving as Sherman & Turner. At the end of the day, these are Ireland's players underperforming & getting coaches fired. it's TIME to FINALLY hold the guy responsible for acquiring these players.

BEEN SAYING IT FOR YEARS!!!!!!!!!! If you want the team to take the next step, YOU MUST GET A GM that is capable of putting the finishing touches on.

Ireland assembled a decent base. He's decent at that. He has proven incapable of doing more than that. He's had chances to build upon the bases he formed & failed.

Enough is enough.

What drama! If Bill Belicheck would've been the HC I'm sure this team would be playing better. It is about talent, no doubt, but talent is in every team thats why this game is so competitvie. Its also about how players are coached, motivated, and used to their strongest potential. Its also about shemes and out-smarting the other coach. Philbin? Don't think he has it.

TannePuke cant hit the broadside of a barn at more than 10 yds. Slow delivery too. He's just pathetic.

I don't know if Johnny Manziel will be successful in the NFL or not, but I do know he's got that "it" factor we talk about so much in successful players. He's a winner, pure and simple. And after Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, anyone that wants to use size as a reason NOT to draft a kid should be laughed off the block immediately. There are other factors that go into a successful football player than prototypical size.

This pretty much sums up our defensive wows, we only have one representative (Wake should be there)..Source, ESPN

All-AFC East Defense
Position Player Team
DE Chandler Jones New England Patriots
DT Kyle Williams Buffalo Bills
DT S. Richardson New York Jets
DE Mario Williams Buffalo Bills
OLB Quinton Coples New York Jets
ILB Kiko Alonso Buffalo Bills
ILB David Harris New York Jets
OLB Calvin Pace New York Jets
CB Brent Grimes Miami Dolphins
CB Aqib Talib New England Patriots
S Devin McCourty New England Patriots
S Jairus Byrd Buffalo Bills

Posted by: URFIRED | January 02, 2014 at 11:05 AM

I'll give you the fact he will be better than Ryan Tannehill, even in his rookie year. JM does have a great nature, a born leader and can improvise with the best of them.

Sure bring him in, why not ?

Posted by: Just Saying | January 02, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Correct. However for some Dumb Feckers out there that is good enough !!!

In reality you guys can shoot criticism at the qb all you want but he did what was realistically expected of him this year. he improved in every major statistical category. Significantly! he is already a funtional NFl qb. All the Qbs who had years similar to his will not be replaced.

Johnny manziel will not have a better year next year than Tannehill did this year. This I guarantee.

Only people on this blog will want to replace a Qb that accounted for over 4100 yards and 25 tds behind the worst line in NFL history in his 2nd year. Truth is nobody internally or externally is thinking the Qb is the problem - yet.

Whats with all the Manziel talk. You guys really think if things remain as they are this regime will draft a first round QB.

I love what ive seen from Manziel but no way we draft a QB under this regime. I still would like to see what Tannehill can do with a better oline and running game.

Im not sure any QB, whether it be Brees, Manning or Manziel could operate with all the holes we have.

Dolfan29, THill was sacked 0 times against the Jets and put up 7 pts

My thoughts on how to have a good offseason

I won't get into the front office or coach issues because no one knows what is going to happen. Although if its me I revamp everyone but I'll give Philbin one more year since that's what I think Ross will do.

Our FA- Sign Grimes (3yrs), Soliai (2yr, hurt most of year), Yeatman (2yr), Carroll (2yr, depth), Jerry (1yr, depth)

FA- KC RG Jon Asamoah (Our new RG that is young and very good), Pit S Ryan Clark (utility guy that can help mold young new safeties), NY RT Austin Howard (had a good season with the jets)


1st- NC ST TE Eric Ebron- I want a TE that can stretch the field and this guy does it I know our OL Needs help but that can be addressed later but this guy is a natural TE that we need.

2nd- NC State OT James Hurst (new OT)

Rest BPA

And again with the Chad henne comparison - this is utter stupidity. Chad henne was the same qb in his first year as he is now. no improvement. He never even got close to the markers Tannehill put up this year. Never 4000 yards, never 25 tds. Tannehill will get better and probably be here for a long time - so you guys better get used to it.

this is just terrible,...

Sherman at Green Bay = terrible
Sherman and Tannehill at A&M = terrible
Philbin never a HC before now = terrible
switching our defense to a 4-3 = terrible

My biggest beef - we used to be a physical, tough team. Now we arent, we're getting pushed around. The knock on those Packers teams? Not physical. Clean House.


I completely know where you are coming from. I don't want to sound disrespectful, but Tannehill apologists tend to miss part of the equation when defending him. For example, if RT was so inexperienced, why was he selected so high in the draft? Potential? It is hard enough to predict success in the NFL with all the cards on the table, but to do it with hidden ones makes it almost impossible. Look at what other QBs picked in later rounds are doing. For God's sake, look at Wilson, Kappernick, and even Foles.

Look, I don't think RT is terrible, but he is not the answer. I go by what I see more than what the stats say even though I do believe in stats. RT missed on many EASY passes that even a high school QB can make. He also completed many passes that were CRAPPY but the receiver simply made the tough catch. Even when he had time to throw, he didn't complete. A QB who takes as many sacks as RT took, knowing that his line is weak, tells me he has a reaction problem. He can't get rid of the ball quick enough. It's like as if he has a short circuit between his brain and his arm. That is what I personally see, but then again, perceptions vary from person to person.

Cant believe were going into next year with NO CHANGES. I gurantee all of you we"ll be 7 and 9 next year if nothing changes..

I think the most problematic issue is being overlooked.

If Ross keeps Philbin and fires Ireland, how are we supposed to recruit a good GM if they don't have full say in being able to bring in their own coaching staff?

As usual, Ross isn't thinking about things logically.
If you want a new GM Ross, I would start by firing everyone!

Don't worry Mr. Ross, Philbin is no great loss.

Look the 24th ranked QB is good enough for some.

Geno Smith outplayed him, after being laughed at by Bill A, MI-Tit and Sam I aint and dusty dick.

Thad Lewis, a walk on QB gave Thill a lesson into how to play then position, putting him in the shade. Still he laughed and joked on the sidelines with his friends. Its really heart-breaking what ~philbin has doone to this once great and proud team.

Truth, yeah he didn't play well against he jets. What about the Colts, Steelers, Chargers, Patriots, bengals, etc, etc.

DC, size is one thing about manziel but my biggest question would be arm strength. It's very, very questionable.

Mark in the biggest 2 games of the year he flopped that all that matters. Against teams under .500, the 2 bigget games! Thats says a lot... And JM arm is plenty string enough for the Nfl have you seen him play?

Why hasnt Ireland been fired yet?

4,000 is the new 3,000...i explained it earlier...OUTDATED bench mark....

He didn't play well in the last two games when it counted, I don't care about the other games.

Thill finished ranked 24th in the NFL. Most of the QB's in the league can point to good games, Thad Lewis and Geno Smith had their great games, so are they franchise Qb's too ?

All you do is attempt excuses for this guy and it doesn't work. Even you best pal Bill A has given up on Thill, he stated so at the end of the Jets game.
Playing QB is all about consistency.

Even Henne never put out two consecutive games under a QBR of 45 ?

One season Henne had 4 games over 90 QBR, so what ? At the end of the season you have to come through in the clutch. Thill had to games to prove himself and he was terrible.

Tannehill is ranked 37th at yards per pass attempt. YIKES!

marco, he's also beat Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Tom brady, matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger, put up 450 yards on the Panther defense was 10th in passing yards and 12 in tds.

Try to account for that in your argument as well.

To close the book on a 2nd year qb who's done nothing but improve is folly at best. Odds are significantly in his favour that he will continue to improve.

Now the supporting cast about him on offense and defense - that is what should truly be judged here. If at the beginning of the year you were told Tannehill would have 4100 yards+ and 25tds, people would say we should be in the playoffs.

This defense was billed as elite instead it was way worse than most - bottom third in most categories.

The line - most sacks in team history - in NFL history probably too or at least in the discussion.

Running backs? Made me yearn for Karim Abdul Jabbar or Mark Higgs.

Joe Philbin should ditch the NFL Head Coach role for that of a professional Poker player,his face never changes.

The knock on THill coming out talking to some A&M fans was he choked in the biggest games and threw crtical picks at the wrong time..

Welp looks like THill lived up to his name in the last 2 games!!

I think what pleases me about Tannehill is he has improved from year 1 to year 2. Most NFL scouts or so called experts will tell you a QB gets three years to show you whether hes the guy who can lead you to where you wanna be and win a championship or is capible of doing so.

I think RT has shown he can be a solid QB in the NFL given the fact he had alot working against him this season. Thats not to say he still doesnt need work. His deep touches need to get better and his pocket awarness still is troublesome.

However i say he gets one more year which will be his third to see if he can be "the guy".

Drafting Manziel will only set this franchise back further when more glaring needs on the roster are there.


I also don't think you can compare 4,000 yards of today's NFL to 4,000 yards in the NFL of the 80's and 90's....

its not even close to the same thing....

4'000 is like the new 3'000...maybe 3,500 if we want to be super generous....but not especially realistic.....

Posted by: Kris (in Germany) | January 01, 2014 at 05:26 PM

Posted by: Kris (in Germany) | January 02, 2014 at 11:27 AM

Passing yardage has gone up greatly you are perfectly correct my friend.

Most QB's that put their arm up 588 times are easily going to get 4000 yards at the very least.

Another fact that should come into play is Thill average per attempt. He comes in a sad 27th in the league.

Rick hennehill has 32 games under his belt. He has started more than enough games to judge whether or not he is a franchise qb or not. He is not.

« 1 2 3 4 5 6 »

The comments to this entry are closed.