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5 posts from February 20, 2014

February 20, 2014

ESPN NFL Live analysts roast Joe Philbin

So what is the national reaction from the Joe Philbin press conference?

Adam Beasley of The Herald is at the Indianapolis Combine and he tells me that national media were underwhelmed by Philbin but not overtly critical.

Well, ESPN's analysts on NFL Live were quite critical.

Former Super Bowl winners Mark Schlereth, Tedy Bruschi and Damien Woody just roasted the Dolphins coach on national cable television. It was, shall we say, four minutes of turning Philbin over an open fire.

Among other things, Schlereth said Philbin is, "incompetent."

Bruschi referred to "the amazing lack of awareness," with Philbin and the organization.

Bruschi also pointed at that Philbin failed as "rookie head coach. I think the job was too big for him at first. And now he has to refix some of the mess he created."

Woody said players on the leadershp council should be appointed by the head coach. Philbin had the leadership council appointed by a vote of the players.

(Salguero interjects here: I believe Philbin meant well to let the players vote on members of the leadership council. But as Nick Saban would do, the coach has ultimate veto power. Always.)

Here is the audio (click to listen):

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Dennis Hickey talks at Indy Combine

Dennis Hickey is at his 19th NFL Indianapolis Combine but obviously attending as a general manager for the first time.

"It's an exciting time," he said today. "You get 350 of the best prospects in the same setting. It lets you evaluate them from an athletic standpoint. You get verified measurables on them. You get to know the player themselves and get medical information.

"It's an exciting time for the Miami Dolphins."

So the second question was asked was about the status of Mike Pouncey and the rest of a very uncertain offensive line.

"Every day that I wake up, I think about how can I get the Miami Dolphins to the best 53-man roster," Hickey said. "Obviously, that encompasses all positions. I believe that it all starts up front on both sides of the ball ... What's the best plan? We're putting together the best strategic plan and we're going forward with that."

Hickey declined to answer a question about a possible suspension for Pouncey or John Jerry, both mentioned prominently in the Wells report.

"We're working in concert with the commissioner's office and so that's where that stands," Hickey said.

Here's something that suggests: The Dolphins will wait on NFL sanctions for the players before taking any action of their own.

Hickey made the point he is not going to discuss "current plans, future plans" about players. He repeated that point about four times. That's understandable and typical of NFL teams. It doesn't need constant repeating, however.

Hickey would not be specific about the offense the Dolphins will run.

"We're going to do a lot of different things under (new OC) Bill Lazor," he said. "We're excited to have him on board. They're still working through all that and we'll go from there."

The subject of starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been prominent this offseason since CBSSports.com reported Joe Philbin might at some point bench the QB in favor of backup Matt Moore.

Hickey said he's watched Tannehill since college and has seen improvement since that time.

"We expect that to continue that development into his third year," Hickey said.

As for the report?

"I can't respond to speculation," Hickey said, "but I believe in Ryan Tannehill."

The Dolphins have a lot of needs. The offensive line side to side. Defensive tackle. Safety. Cornerback. And running back.

But Hickey said, "We like the running backs on our team."

He added, however, that he wants to find the best 53 playes and wants to push competition, including at running back.

Hickey said he wants Dion Jordan to "continue to progress." He declined to be more specific (one of his four times).

Free agency will start in March. Hickey thinks the Dolphins are a great destination for those players.

"I think free agents will be attracted to who we are," he said. "We have an excellent coaching staff. We live in Miami, that's pretty strong. We have a great owner who will allocate the resources necessary. And we have an environment, a collective strong environment. In my three weeks, it's been nothing but positive with all the people. As you get in the building and get to know the people, you get a sense of what the organization is about. I felt strongly about that and at every step that has been confirmed to us."

The video of Joe Philbin's presser

You've read my coverage. You've seen the transcript. Here is the video of Joe Philbin's presser today at the Indianapolis Combine.

Again, I give Philbin credit for addressing the media. If he had not -- as was originally the organization's plan -- he would have been the only AFC East coach not to speak to the media at the Combine. (Yeah, Bill Belichick had a change of heart today and also is having a press conference.)

I credit Philbin for stepping up so that GM Dennis Hickey would not have to bear the burden of answering Wells report questions as the first Dolphins official to speak to the media. I credit him also for taking some accountability.

His one issue during this presser?

Philbin talked a lot about accountability. He said he's accountable. But he took no accountability for letting Richie Incognito be voted team captain and team leader in 2013 after he knew Incognito had assualted a female golf course worker at a team sponsored event in 2012.

Philbin said it was the players who elected Incognito a leader. He said he allowed it to happen out of respect for the democratic process.

Doesn't fly, especially since this is what Philbin said about Incognito's leadership in August 2013:

"He’s been leading by example, again I think the best form of leadership for us in this program is example," Philbin said then. "Part of that is in the classroom, part of it’s in the weight room, part of it’s on the  practice field, and then transferring it to the game field.  He’s done a very good job."

Hmmm. Sorry, coach. Can't have it both ways.

Anyway, as I've mentioned, one of the great things today's Philbin presser did was open the horizon for Hickey to address things not Wells report. In other words, Hickey will get football questions in about an hour. Check back for that post!

The video

Everything Joe Philbin said (and shouted) today

Joe Philbin addressed the local and national media today. You already got a taste of what he said in shouting an opening statement and answering questions in a more calm manner.

Well, here's everything he said. In total.

(Opening statement) – “I remember the first day I interviewed for the Miami Dolphins head coaching job with Steve Ross, and we talked a lot about the type of program I wanted to run in Miami. One of the things I told Steve was it’s important to me that any player we have or any staff member we have, I wanted to create an atmosphere where their experience as a Miami Dolphin, whether it was for three weeks, three months, three years, 10 years, was the best professional experience they ever had. And if they left Miami and went to another organization or left and went to work for General Electric, Goldman Sachs or whatever great company in America, they would look back on their time as a Miami Dolphin and say,  ‘That organization was committed to helping me reach my full potential. They committed the resources, the time and invested in the individuals to make us a great football team,’ so they can look back and say they had a tremendous experience. Any time that isn’t accomplished, anytime one of our players and staff members has an experience contrary to that, it requires my attention, it needs to be corrected, it needs to be looked at (and) it needs to be fixed. I want everyone to know, I’m the one responsible for the workplace environment at the Miami Dolphins facility. I’m the one who sets the schedule. I’m the one who decides when the practices are. I decide what time the players eat, how they meet, how they lift, everything that they do in the facility. When they leave the facility, we have kind of a message board, TV board, and it says on it 24/7/365 every day. I walk out there every day, they walk out there every day, as a reminder that we all represent one another. Everything that I do impacts everybody I work with at the Miami Dolphins on a daily basis, and everything that they do impacts me. So I think you could imagine when I read the report that you have, and I got the report the same minute you got it, some of the facts, the behavior, the language that was outlined in the report is inappropriate and is unacceptable, and I’m the one as I mentioned earlier that is in charge of the workplace. I can tell you, I can tell our fans, I can tell you sitting here, I can tell our players, we are going to do things about it. We are going to make it better. We are going to look at every avenue. We are going to uncover every stone, and we are going to have a better workplace. I promise you that. I’m going to make sure that happens. So I’ll take any questions you have."

(On what in the Wells Report that he didn’t know about before it was released) -  “There were some little details that I didn’t know about. As you could imagine I met with the investigators, I believe it was November 18th. It was in the midst of the season. We were still coaching. We were still playing games, so there wasn’t time for me necessarily to do a lot of personal investigating into some of these claims. A majority of these things I knew about."

(On what he can personally do to make sure that his message of promoting integrity and accountability throughout the organization gets through)  - “Like I said, I have to do a better job. I’m going to look at every way, the way we educate, the way we communicate, the way we talk to one another. I’m going to look at every avenue. We have a lot of dedicated, committed people in our organization, in our building, that make a lot of sacrifices every single day when they go to work. I have to make sure that we create a better atmosphere and a better environment."

(On if part of his job is to know what is going on in the locker room) -  “Look, I’m the head football coach. The team, the performance of the team, the record, the 8-8 record, that falls on my shoulders. I’m going to be more vigilant, I’m going to be more diligent, I’m going to be more visible and I’m going to have a better pulse."

(On why he didn’t follow up with Jonathan Martin after he briefly left the team in the offseason) -  “Well when I was made aware of his condition, I immediately connected him with medical treatment. I had subsequent discussions, nothing at great length. Out of respect for Jonathan (Martin) I’m not going to get into the details of those discussions. I think that he should be the one that speaks about his health status."

(On if he feels he should have followed up with Jonathan Martin more after he left the team) -  “Again, I connected him with medical care immediately when I knew that he needed some. Again, I’m not going to comment any further about those discussions about his health."

(On if he has been in contact with the league regarding possible penalties against players, and if he sees any scenario where one of the players implicated in the report doesn’t return to the team) - “We are in concert with the NFL and the commissioner’s office in regard to potential discipline of any player. We are communicating with them on that. We haven’t made any decisions on anybody’s future in terms of the 2014 Miami Dolphins."

(On if Kevin O’Neill made the trip to Indianapolis before he was relieved of his duties) -  “As I mentioned to you before, I was interviewed I believe on November 18th by Ted Wells and the investigative team. We received the report exactly the same day, same time that you did. That was a time-span of 89 days, I believe. As an organization, when you are talking about the careers and future of people who are dedicated professionals, we felt we needed to deliberate. We needed to discuss. We didn’t feel that five days was an exurbanite amount of time when you consider the implications of those decisions. That being said, Kevin O’Neill is a dedicated person, professional. He gave 18 years of service. I don’t know if there is ever really a good time to relieve someone of their duties. Would it have been better maybe if he was not here (in Indianapolis)? When we made a decision as an organization, we felt it was fair to communicate that decision as soon as possible, and that’s what we did."

(On what he told everyone in the organization before they met with the investigators) -  “To tell the truth, tell the truth. It’s always good advice."

(On if this has been an embarrassing six months for the franchise) -  “It’s been tough on a lot of people. It’s been tough on our ownership, it’s been tough on our fan-base (and) it’s been tough on everyone in the locker room. It’s touched a lot of people in the country. It’s been difficult, but I know I speak for our owner, Steve Ross, we are resolute in our dedication to getting this right and correcting any problems that existed. We are going to do it."

(On if Jonathan Martin would be able to return this season) –  “Well our owner Steve Ross has reached out to Jonathan, I believe at some point in the near future they plan on getting together, so for me to make any comments prior to that meeting I think would be inappropriate."

(On if he thinks the players could handle having him back in the locker room)  – “Again, until that meeting occurs, I’m not going to make any comments."

(On if he wanted to release Richie Incognito after the golf incident)  – “Well, when I was made aware of that situation that you’re referencing I took immediate action in the form of player discipline.  Obviously there are many options that we discussed as an organization what the best course would be and that’s what we came up with.  I’m not going to pass the buck to anybody else, I was a part of it, that was the decision that we made."

(On if he regrets not cutting ties with Richie Incognito at that point) – “Again, that was the decision that we made at that point in time so I stand by it and that’s what we did."

(On how Richie was made a leader on the football team after the incident at the golf course)  – “I didn’t necessary name him a leader.  There’s a leadership council that we have in place, the process is that the players elect the players that they want to be on the leadership council.  Out of respect to the process that’s how the votes came in and he was on the leadership council."

(On if he knew about the issues while they were happening)  – “I did not know about it when it was going on, no.  The majority of things I did not know about when it was going on, no."

(On how he became aware of the issues before his interview) – “Things became quite public around November 1st, so some things seeped in and leaked in and then I heard the same voice message that you’ve probably heard and the country has probably heard.  Those are things that as I started, those are things I heard.  I believe that phone call was maybe in March, or certainly I had never heard that text message, so as different things occurred over the period of time I became more aware of the situation."

(On knowing what he knows now, how would he have handled the situation)  – “I don’t have the benefit to look back. Certainly I would have hoped that I would have noticed some of these things, I can tell you that I had never turned my back.  If I had heard this type of language or these type of acts being done I would have intervened immediately.  There’s a common decency that people need to have toward one another and when that gets violated that’s an issue.   I certainly wish I had seen some of it, and I could have intervened quicker and perhaps would not have grown to this proportion that it’s grown to.  It’s easy to look back, that’s how it unfolded so now I have to focus on the future and how we’re going to correct the problems."

(On if he feels fortune that he still has a job) – “Again, Steve Ross is the one that does the hiring of the Miami Dolphins, that’s a question you should ask him."

(On if it will affect the Miami Dolphins brand, where players would not want to play for the Dolphins etc.)  – “I believe in the players. I’ve stated I believe when we first became aware of some of these allegations that I have faith in our locker room, faith in the players that we have.  I think we have an outstanding coaching staff.  I know we have work to do like every other football team here that’s why we’re here.  We’re here to work, we’re here to evaluate these prospects and improve our football team.  I’m confident in the direction, I’m confident we’re going to make the changes necessary to improve the workplace at the Miami dolphins and improve our football team.”

Quickie highlights from Joe Philbin presser

Joe Philbin today became the first Dolphins official to discuss the Wells report and the scandal that spawned that report. He stepped to the microphones in Indianapolis in front of the national and some local media (not me, I'm home) and started with a statement ....

Philbin talked of creating an atmosphere where players' experience with the Dolphins was "the best professional experience they had."

"Anytime that isn't accomplished, anytime a player or staff member or anyone has an experience contrary to that, it requires my attention," he said. "It needs to be corrected, it needs to be looked at, it needs to be fixed."

Then going futher in his memorized statement he added ...

"I want everybody to know,  was responsible for the workplace environment at the Miami Dolphins facility. I'm the one that sets the schedule, I decide when the practices are, I decide when players eat, how the practices are, how they lift, everything they do in the facility."

That's good. Everything means everything and Philbin is being accountable here.

Philbin said he got the Wells report at the "same minute" the public got the report.

"I think you can imagine when I got the report, some of the facts, the behavior, the language that was outlined in the report was inappropriate," Philbin said. "It's unacceptable. And I'm the one who is charge of the work place. And I can tell you ... we're going to do things about it. We're going to make it better."

Then Philbin stopped his shouting into the microphone and took questions.

Philbin was asked if he believes it is his job to know what was going on and if not, did he fail by not knowing what was going on as the Wells report stated?

"Look, I'm the head football coach," Philbin said. "The team, the performance of the team, the 8-8 record, that falls on my shoulders. I'm going to be more vigilant. I'm going to be more diligent. I'm going to be more visible. I'm going to have a better pulse."

Philbin defended himself from the idea that he didn't delve in depth with Jonathan Martin on his suicidal thoughts after May 2013 despite the fact those thoughts lingered for Martin.

"When I was made aware of his condition, I immediately connected him with medical treatment," Philbin said. "And I had subsequent discussions. Nothing at great length. And out of respect for Jonathan, I'm not going to get into the details of those discussions. He should be the one that speaks on his health status."

Philbin kept open the door for a Jonathan Martin return. He said owner Stephen Ross will meet with Martin, something Ross said in a statement Wednesday, and decisions will be made after that.

Philbin said no decisions have been on the future of any players mentioned in the report -- Richie Incognito, Martin, John Jerry, Mike Pouncey. We all know that not to be true. Incognito is not coming back. Ross has said Martin's not coming back.

"We haven't made any decision on anybody's future," Philbin said.

Phiibin then took on more responsibility and showed more accountability.

"I have to do a better job," he said. "We're going to look at everything. The way we educate, the way we communicate, the way we talk to one another. I'm going to look at every avenue. I have to make sure we create a better atmosphere and better environment."

Philbin was asked how he could abide with the Dolphins players voting Incognito a leader on the team in 2013 when he had assualted a female golf course volunteer at a team sponsored event in 2012.

"I didn't necessarily name him a leader," Philbin said.

But he allowed it.

"There's a leadership council that we have in place. The process is the players elect the people they want to be on the leadership council. Out of respect to the process that's how the votes came in and he was on the leadership council."

So in a presser where Philbin is taking accountability for everything that goes on within his team, he's now distancing himself from this issue. Bad moment.

Does Philbin wish he handled this whole affair differently?

"I don't have the benefit to look back," Philbin said. "I would have hoped that I noticed some of these things. I can tell you I never turned my back. If I had heard this type of language or these type of acts, I would have intervened immediately.

" ... I certainly wish I would have seen some of it. I would have intervened quicker and perhaps it would not have grown to this proportion it has grown to. But it's easy to look back. That's how it happened. That's how it unfolded. I have to focus on the future and correct the problems."

Philbin was asked if he thinks he should keep his job ...

"Steve Ross is the one that does the hiring for the Miami Dolphins," Philbin said. "That's a question you should ask him."