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Concerns raised about Philbin, Dolphins' coaching staff; Fins, Heat, UM, Marlins chatter

SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

So why is Dolphins owner Stephen Ross keeping Joe Philbin after ditching Jeff Ireland and Mike Sherman, rather than letting the new general manager pick the coach? Ross respects Philbin’s integrity, his organizational skills, the way he carries himself.

And some of Ross’ closest associates, including Carl Peterson, have told him that Philbin is not the problem. And there’s this: Ireland had the larger body of underwhelming work; Philbin --- who has multiple years left on his contract --- has had four fewer years to fail.

But if Ross polled a wide range of players and others for feedback about Philbin and this coaching staff, he would get mixed reviews. He also would be confronted with this question: What special skill does Philbin bring to the job?

“There’s not great respect for the coaching staff there,” said a close associate of several Dolphins players.

“Criticism of the coaches is consistent with everyone I talk to on the team,” said another associate. “You have some assistants who weren’t experienced or comfortable in their jobs. Some players said they didn’t learn much. It’s pretty disconcerting.”

And… “There’s not a lot of great teaching there,” said another close associate who speaks regularly with several Dolphins.

Let’s be clear: There are some coaches on this staff who do good work and are deserving of their jobs, including Kacy Rodgers (defensive line) and Darren Rizzi (special teams). Tight ends coach Dan Campbell has done a commendable job with Charles Clay.

Dolphins players generally like defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, but some believe Rodgers should be the coordinator, and the front office was unhappy Coyle didn’t find more ways to use Dion Jordan.

But this is troubling: One offensive player said he hasn’t learned a single thing from his position coach. Another who has been on the team during Philbin’s tenure said the assistant receiver’s coach, Phil McGeoghan, does a much better job than receivers coach Ken O’Keefe, and questioned O’Keefe’s acumen for the job. (O’Keefe previously was the offensive coordinator at Iowa and worked three years with Philbin there.)

O’Keefe, like several of Philbin’s hires, had a personal connection to Philbin, which made him appealing despite not having any NFL experience. Aside from coordinators, nine of the 12 coaches that Philbin has hired had never worked in the NFL.

One of the three who did, linebackers coach George Edwards, left for the Vikings last week and didn’t exactly get the most from his players here. And now Philbin has subtracted his most experienced coach in Sherman, whose work also drew criticism from players.

As for Philbin, a lot of players like him personally. What you don’t hear are words such as "innovative" or "dynamic leader."

One player complained that teams take on the personality of their coach and said because Philbin is flat and unemotional, the team too often plays like that. That has become a serious concern, but it goes beyond Philbin’s lack of motivational skills. Another said his personality better fits a coordinator.

“Players don’t see him as a really good X’s and O’s guy,” said one of the players’ close associates. “He’s just an organizational guy who’s on top of the scheduling and planning.”

A prominent network analyst who asked not to be named said Ross was fooled if he thought he was getting an offensive savant in Philbin. “His background is offensive line,” the analyst said, adding that Philbin wasn’t the coach primarily developing Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. (And we all know how this offensive line turned out.)

When asked last year what he likes about a particular player (Chris Clemons), Philbin said: “He keeps his mouth [shut].”

That philosophy is why Philbin either wanted to dump or was perfectly fine with losing productive players who spoke out, from Brandon Marshall to Reggie Bush to Karlos Dansby – all of whom were highly productive elsewhere. Ireland, of course, also had a major part in this.

There are some people in the Dolphins front office who see the deficiencies in Philbin and this staff, but Ross believes Philbin is part of the solution.

Regardless of whether Philbin survives beyond 2014, the GM and the coaching staff must have more of a common vision of players and how to use them.

“There was a huge disconnect between the coaches and management,” said one person who spoke several times to Ireland. “Jeff was frustrated. He thought his rookies should be on the field more.”

Instead, they played less than any rookie class in the league, because the coaches didn’t quite see in them what Ireland did.

Perhaps new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor will infuse some creative ideas. He has been an offensive coordinator only in college (Buffalo and Virginia), but he’s highly-regarded.

Lazor’s offenses at Virginia (2010-12) used a lot of motions, shifts and formations and tried to disguise plays.  

“It’s an offense that takes a lot of time and a lot of work on trying to solve the puzzle,” former Auburn coach Gene Chizik said during Lazor’s tenure at Virginia. “It’s very problematic in a lot of ways because you have to limit what you can do [defensively].”

Iowa assistant Jim Reid, Virginia’s defensive coordinator during Lazor’s tenure there, said the offshoot of Lazor’s disguises and formations is “it’s hard to get a beat on how you would like to blitz them.”

At Virginia, Lazor said: “Teams know we’re going to run the power play. We just don’t want to make it look like the power play.” (Or, presumably, say "go-go" before running plays.)

Lazor ran a pro-style offense at Virginia but has considerable experience in the West Coast offense with Chip Kelly and earlier with Mike Holmgren.

By the way, Philbin hasn't completely ruled out additional staff changes, according to an associate. Offensive line coach Jim Turner's status could be impacted by Ted Wells' report on the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito scandal.

CHATTER

### CBS' Jason LaCanfora reported Saturday night that candidates for the Dolphins general manager job have been kept in the dark and that Ross is now headed to London for a week and then China. He said some teams who have candidates up for the job aren't happy how slowly the process is going.

### Though Philbin had interest in former Texans coach Gary Kubiak for the Dolphins' offensive coordinator job before hiring Lazor, an associate said Kubiak has told people he doesn’t plan to coach next season.

### Browns receiver Davone Bess’ peculiar behavior in his final months as a Dolphin, as detailed in Saturday’s Herald, also included firing and re-hiring his agent, and asking for a trade than then retracting that request, according to an associate.

### There are mixed views inside the Heat about whether to pursue center Andrew Bynum. Miami has considered it, and it hasn’t been ruled out. But one Heat official said there are be concerns about how it would affect Greg Oden, who has done everything the Heat has asked, because Miami wants to give him minutes.

This is not the same Bynum who played for the Lakers. Before being released, Bynum had the second-lowest shooting percentage among 60 NBA center (41.9), was in the bottom third in rebounds-per-48 minutes, and the Cavaliers were outscored by 127 with Bynum on the court.

### Bynum would make sense only if Oden has a setback or struggles, or if the Heat decides to play a lot of the game with a true center (Oden, Chris Andersen or Bynum) and Chris Bosh at power forward. Heading into the weekend, a lineup with Bosh and Andersen had outscored teams by 43 in 89 minutes and was shooting five percentage points better and rebounding much better than the Heat does overall.

Conversely, before playing well in Philadelphia Friday, the regular starting lineup (featuring Shane Battier at power forward) has been outscored since the start of December when playing together.

“But if you go big, you really lack the offensive flow Battier gives them,” TNT’s Steve Kerr said off the air.

Small-ball, which leaves Miami vulnerable on the boards, works only if the Heat is defending effectively (it hadn’t been, entering the weekend) and shooting well. And Battier (40.9) and Ray Allen (42.1) each have shot three percentage points below their career averages.

### Mario Cristobal, who angered a bunch of people at UM when he bolted after less than two months on Al Golden's staff to take a job with Alabama, continues to spend time and energy trying to flip UM oral commitments. The latest: Chad Thomas, UM's highest-rated prospect. Thomas, rated the nation's No. 1 defensive end, said he's mulling whether to visit Alabama and also has been considering a visit to FSU. But he remains orally commited to Miami..

Three-star defensive tackle Lamont Galliard, a Georgia oral commitment, reportedly will visit Miami.... Three-star Tampa-based receiver/cornerback Deiondre Porter decommitted from USF and is considering UM, Rutgers, Georgia, UF and UCF. He's scheduled to visit UM on Jan. 31... Running back Kameron McKnight, a 6-2, 220-pound three-star prospect from Jackson, La., told rivals.com he's considering a UM offer. UM has been looking for a big back in this class, to complement the smaller, quicker four-star prospect, Joseph Yearby.

### Barring further moves, the Marlins' payroll will end up around $45 million, including $7 million still due the Diamondbacks in the Heath Bell trade. The Marlins began last season with a payroll of $48.6 million, but $12.5 million of that was for players who weren't on the team. So this year's on-field payroll will be slightly higher, but still among the lowest in baseball. 

### Twitter: flasportsbuzz      

Comments

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duh

$45 million...Loria continues to get over on the fans, and I continue to boycott until this cancer is removed.

Juan

How can you respect a head coach when they lose to less talented teams - Bills, Jets?

mayberd

Why keep a inept Coach like Jim Turner whose Offensive line leaked like the Titanic and was one of the main characters in one of the worst scandals in Dolphin history.Former Titans Head coach Mike Munchak would be a great replacement for Turner but Ross will wait too late and if he fires Turner good replacements like Munchak will be gone.Excellent blog Mr Jackson pointing out the Dolphins coaching woes and if this is not corrected look for a .500 season or below for the Dolphins in 2014.

IMAWriter

In recruiting, all's fair, as they say. However, I will take great joy the moment Saban sees what a fraud Cristobal is, and cans his ass. With dozens of schools fro poach, an ex-Cane bleeding UM is just not right, especially adding in the 2 month tease.
A little humility for Mario would be a good thing.

IMAWriter

Carl Peterson having Ross's ear has already proven to be a bad thing. If players are this willing to reveal the clubhouse secrets so readily, the disrespect level must be high. It's clear, watching the last 2 games that Philbin had zero ability to get in his player's heads the greatness of the moment. They played down to their competition, and a sure playoff spot lost.
If the Dolphins don't make the playoffs 2014, Philbin needs to go, but what to do about Ross?
Exactly...NOTHING.

'Phins Rot

So, Philbin would make an outstanding Wedding Planner. The hits just keep on coming with this franchise. What a freakin' disaster.

joe r

the concept of firing sherman and ireland on dfferent days a week after the season and kepping philibin has proved one thing..steven ross needs to turn over the reigns of the operation to someone that understands how to run an nfl team..now the gm is stuck with philbin and i guarantee you all of these gm candidates already knew what barry wrote about philibin today..as much as a gm job is coveted who wants to be tied to philbin..steven ross should have fired ireland, ross, sherman and coyle and then hired a gm asap and said go build a staff, im going back to NY, call me when you have it done then call me after the draft and we will review the picks and then ross is allowed back for training camp to sit on the golf cart and see his investment..the best run teams are the ones where you only see and hear about the owner sitting in the box in his tie on sundays...if ross had done this the day after the season youw ould have a staff in place doing scouting at the senior bowl like they should be doing but not the phins, they are fooling around with way to many interviews, notice how they arent focused

joe r

here is another thing, dont think the phins did some brilliant job letting bess go because he had issues...they should have helped the guy in any way the could and kept him because he is an awesome slot receiver and would have been a big asset to our qb that to this point cant throw deep so if he cant throw deep then you throw short to intermediate patterns and bess was top class at that position..if they keep idiot incognito then they should have kept bess too, i bet ricky williams could have and would have helped bess in any way he could because ricky and davon are similiar if you get my drift and ricky is the kind of guy that helps other people with issues..its easy to second guess the phins because they keep making big mistakes

Tony

Went one baseball game in the last two years. Will not return until team is sold. Stephen Ross....idiot! How has this man been successful to begin with?. The Dolphins are an example of chaos!

Harleyray

I have posted since midway thru the 2013 season,that Philbin is the problem and the team plays just like his personality. No emotion,no imagination,no game-day adjustments,just vanilla. When you sign FA's to huge contracts,and draft highly talented college players,and can't figure out how to use them,you are a coach that needs to be fired,NOW! None of what Barry reported here is at all a surprize to me. Just watch this team play on any given Sunday and you can see the lack of coaching on offense and defense. And Ross thinks Philbin and his staff are the answer? Moron!

J T SANDSR

Wow. The biggest nugget in the Philbin piece is the lack of experience he has managed to surround himself with coach wise. The lack of production from some of the units and the continued non adjustments throughout the year have just become crystal. These coaches probably don't know or understand the NFL game well enough to make certain adjustments. That along with Philbin's limited coaching experience, being an o-line coach with what appears to limited input into QB development amd limited offensive game planning explains oh so many things. Given this piece by Mr. Jackson begs the question, "Was Ireland as bad as it appeared on the outside?" Seems like players weren't coached appropriately be ause the coached were, well worthless. It is telling when players say their coaches dont know much. Usually players have a beef with coaches drills, communications, philisophical differences, but here it seems most players are just left shakin their heads.

So in the end I can understand why after giving up eight sacks in the first Buffalo game, then another seven in the second game. These coaches simply did not know how to adjust the offensive line, RBs, TEs, to offest the pash ruch. What must Ross be thinking now?

Ray Mcdona

I said it before and I'll post it now. NO WAY Philbin should of been kept as Dolohins HC. His teams flat out layed an egg the final 2 games of the season. the games weren't competitive we simply got manhandled and instead of going off on his team the guy stood on the sidelines with his mouth half ajar like a mummy.

Ray Mcdona

I said it before and I'll post it now. NO WAY Philbin should of been kept as Dolohins HC. His teams flat out layed an egg the final 2 games of the season. the games weren't competitive we simply got manhandled and instead of going off on his team the guy stood on the sidelines with his mouth half ajar like a mummy.

Ray Mcdona

I said it before and I'll post it now. NO WAY Philbin should of been kept as Dolohins HC. His teams flat out layed an egg the final 2 games of the season. the games weren't competitive we simply got manhandled and instead of going off on his team the guy stood on the sidelines with his mouth half ajar like a mummy.

Ray Mcdona

I said it before and I'll post it now. NO WAY Philbin should of been kept as Dolohins HC. His teams flat out layed an egg the final 2 games of the season. the games weren't competitive we simply got manhandled and instead of going off on his team the guy stood on the sidelines with his mouth half ajar like a mummy.

Jeff

Your review of the Dolphin coaching staff should be disconcerting to most fans. How is the team ever going to get better when the coaching staff is sub-par?

CB

I just want to sum it up for all of us...the peeps running this franchise SUCK.

Arnold Smellisburg

How can you respect a head coach when they lose to less talented teams - Bills, Jets?

Posted by: Juan | 01/19/2014 at 12:15 AM


Uh, since Miami beat the Patriots, then you don't respect Belichick? Your logic is stupid.

TRW

Philbin has proved himself to be incompetent as a head coach. I guess the only reason other than his incompetence that he is surrounded by poor position coaches is he doesn't want anyone with any real coaching ability on the staff. It would make him look even worse.
He must be replaced if Miami is to get a good GM.

No Opinion

Arnold...Do you have any friends? How about this...How do you lose to two of the low teams in the NFL with so much on the line? Does that work for you?

Always like when people don't post an opinion but hide behind a computer to attack another poster's opinion. Coward.

Our franchise is a circus. Should have fired everyone and started over but the owner is unsure of himself in this environment. If it was his business he would be more forceful but since he knows little about football he is hesitant and seeks guidance by those who "sell" him on their credentials.

No Opinion

Cristobal is just doing his job. I would question his loyalty to anyone but himself, but if it works for him that is great as I am sure he doesn't care about how anyone views him. To include his former teammates.

Maybe there is a reason he was fired when everyone thought it wasn't deserving. Maybe FIU would rather have a so-so season than keep someone with his personality in the building. The more you hear the more you think there was more to it.

Kevin

Well if this is the case then expect another 8-8 season and no playoffs- if not worse. Philbin will be fired and the Dolphins will be cleaning house (which is what they should've done after the 2013 season)

green

https://twitter.com/DiplomaticEnt/status/424945421945810944/photo/1

Jamie Greubel and Lauryn Williams (UM alumnae) win gold today in World Cup bobsledding.

Those screams from Lauryn Williams after seeing they won ... pretty cool.

My guess: The women who pushed today are your US Olympic bobsled team.
-- Tim Reynolds ‏@ByTimReynolds

U GO GIRL

Reality Bites

There you go again little green pea, hyping up bobsledding cause Williams is a UM alum. Didn't nkow the sorry canes had a bobsled team. Again you get so excited about the most trivial things, it's too funny.
Cristobal luring UM oral commits to Bama.
Uncle Luke breaking the rules again and again and getting caught.
Transfers and decommitts galore.
Another typical countdown to NSD for the sorry canes.

Go Heat!

green

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqSMme_L4MM

Highlights of Shane Larkin's huge day in the NBA
18 Pts, 5 Assists, 2 Stls.
-- SOTU writers ‏@TheStateOfTheU

SHANE VICTORINO

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