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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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Sherman is gone for sure. Wallace was not brought in to run 10 yard outs, or to fight for the ball over the middle. He was brought in to run deep. Quite frankly he was open A LOT this year. I mean a lot. He blew by everybody at least once every game. The problem with Tannehill is his arm strength. Yes he can get the ball out there, but he has to heave it big time. He doesn't have the strength to make a smooth long throw. We all know when you have to throw a ball with all your muster, accuracy will suffer. Other QB's throw with much more ease.

I think we need to let another year play out. Keep it intact. Enough of the wholesale changes all the time!

long suffering dolphin fan since kiick and czonka gm and coaching is the problem letting bush dansby bell nincovich and marshall go and then replacing marshall wiyh a 12 mil track star is on the gm not one 2013 draft pidk making a significant contribution is a joke picking jerry over graham makes me reach for my ambien not to mention graham played right under their nose i'm tired of potential these coaches couldn,t motivaye a jv team the o-line has been pathetic for years yet nothing is done brandon alberts anyone? what happened to the pass rush in the last two games against two rookie qb's/ coyle has no clue plays soft zones when he should be bringing the house too much respect for opposing teams take
a chance once in awhile it is how they lost the last two games and earlier games ie. buff tb balt...

Is Ireland fired yet?

Ross should sell the team!

40 some art year fan seriously losing his patience with this organization. Fyi i was born in N.Y. and reside there what the hell was i thinking when i stuck with the fins. If they could`nt surround one of the best Quarterbacks in the history of the game with a supporting cast then the only way to turn things around is with a miracle.

Just fire everybody. At least then it renders moot the argument over who's more to blame. The correct answer all along was: all of them. What's the worst that can happen, the Fins miss the playoffs for another 5 years?

I suspect Ross is the real problem and as long as he's the owner this team will be rotten no matter who he hires and fires. But at least making a change is better than keeping people around who have failed for years (coughIrelandcough).

people who keep calling T-hill a WR turned QB have it backwards, and very annoying... Johnny Football, is a college football highlight reel.... and has that IT factor... So didnt Tebow... Write it down, Johnny Football will be a career back up, or thrown to the wolves and injured... the OC and system did not use wallace or other assests to T-Hill's strenghts like others said, just liik at how productive the slot WR was... but, we get wallace a burner, and due to his hamstring, never really got to get on page with T-Hill, OC said "not enough time in practice to practice timing allot".. But, instead of moving wallace to slot in 3WR sets, lets just keep throwing deep... half the season, T-Hill under throws him.. no practice time, to fix... what happens end of season.. he starts over throwing him... OC should of made it a point to practice timing between them... but he didnt... Next year, i think you will see much better meshing between the two... but we also need a big reciever.. like Marshall... I also think, we need to squash the WCO...
I was fortunate and unfortunate to be able to watch Dan Marino's career as a Fin Fan.. and not even Dan, had the Brady or Montana "IT Factor"... but he did, have for 99% of his career, the best passing OL in NFL. T-Hill is the best ive seen since Dan.. Henne never should of been drafted, we should of had Ryan... T-Hill has the arm, touch, toughness, to make all the throws... yeah trouble with the deep pass... but with little experience, that he has, and in college he wasent throwing deep... WOC... with practice, Mainly timing... he will prevail with that to. T-Hill on his own carried the whole team this year... with a B+, B, C+ WR, C TE, then even with a B+, B, D WR... if hartline doesnt get hurt, Maimi wins that game... STop Hating on T-Hill people...

The foundation to the 2013 season failures were cast before the season even started by GM Ireland. It is evident you can't make chicken soup with chicken shit. Get rid of the only veteran running back they had (Bush), no replacement for left tackle. Result...no running game or pass blocking for 2nd year qb. As for the defense, which I think carries as much of the responsibility for the collapse, you know the story there. Two new linebackers that were going to improve things. Moving up to draft a player that hardly saw the field. Yes, Sherman is not a great OC, but I would be surprised if anyone else would have done better under the circumstances. The real cancer with this organization is Ireland and the owner for keeping him here.


I sure did mentioned Ricky William (He was such an Elite Rushing Tail Back I could not placed him Larry C. on the same listing with Miami other Backs.

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

2 watt I feel you Bro!

I am reading a lot of comments that are actually making a lot of sense. Where were you guys during the season when we were inconsistent at best and the games we won, we barely won at the last minute with lucky catches by receivers?


IRELAND is WAY overdue to go....Coach 'SHER/BIN' has had 2 years with SAME RESULTS and NO improvement.

ROSS has no business running a RESULTS ORIENTED business....1st of all....DOESN'T have to stones for it. He 'likes' people too much who are INCOMPETENT at running the team.

Can you imagine how disgruntled Philbin would naturally feel if he is forced to fire his friend Sherman?

Also, why only the focus on the offense? This D couldn't get off the field on 3rd down or stop the running game.

Im not so sure the D didn't fail the O either.

Both were bad.

If Ross were smart, he would fire the GM, tell the new GM to hire or retain Philbin, that whatever happens he will be held accountable.

"You draft a QB in the first RD that has 1st RD talent that slipped into the late 1st rd...or even 2nd or 3rd rd....that is the guy you take a chance on" …

Oh… it's that simple is it? That's where you find the Matt Moore's of the world. Are you aware that there are 31 other teams looking for the same thing? And half of those teams are picking before us? Even 1st rounders flop… it happens. That said, I don't think Tenny has 'flopped' at all. He's still VERY 'football young' and has great physical tools to work with. I think it's amazing that he passed for over 4,000 yards - had about a 2:1 TD to Int. ratio with NO running game, without 2 free agent receivers (Gibson, Keller), a questionable #1 (Wallace) - all while getting sacked 58 times. Too much knee jerking going on here.

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