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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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Not our rival

Posted by: Reality Bites | 01/19/2014 at 01:04 PM

Hush nerd, no one cares about your fake internet rivalry that has nothing to do with football.

william

Most of the comments here accept the rumors that people close to the players said certain things about the coaches and managers, how about we wait until names are out, because we really don't know who said what, just rumors. when you assume with out facts it make an ass out of you and me ( ass u me ) so I say chill until players start talking. Bill

rick

Winning cures everything. Remember Bellicheat was a failure until Tom Brady started. Jimmy Johnson had no success until Emmit Smith showed up. Just get a playmaker at rb and a new tackle and guard and we win those games against Buffalo and the jets.

Harold

More media driven nonsense. Slow news day. I mean you guys beat the Incognito/Martin non-story into the ground after you created it. It's astonishing to me how some of these Herald clowns actually get paid for the fantasies they cook up.

One more thing. This isn't national security. Either name sources, or it's all just more agenda driven, opinionated innuendo.

Craig

Like I have been discussing all along. There is a lot of things that Philbin Brings but im sorry most men need a motivator and people person which Philbin is not. That is why we lack the confidence as a team. Bring in new couch now before its too late. we have a great group of guys in place we just need the right LEADERS to LEAD them.

Ary Vandelay

Ross may be stalling the hire of a GM bc they all are telling him Philbin should go and he is confused & embarrassed. Not hard to do with this guy.

Aponte, another administrator like Philbin, is screaming into Ross's ear how great Philbin bc she knows he is her patsy.

Aponte won't stand for a powerful GM and Peterson is a old boy buddy who is just telling his friend Ross what he wants to hear.

The franchise is a mess and Ross looks completely over his head.

Fin fans only hope is a scathing report from the NFL (what the heck is taking so long with that BTW - can we get some press on this again?) which buries Philbin and most of the staff. Then Ross can blame report as the reason he had to fire Philbin.

Ross you are creating more Tampa Bay Buc fans every day with your misguided loyalty to the dud that is Philbin and the bookkeeper that is Aponte.

Harold

Gotta love armchair GM's telling a self made billionaire how he should run his business. Brilliant

onelove

We need to pull MARINO in and let him do the ELWAY thing. Put people in place were people will respect you. Now if MARINO would have been there when MANNING was trying to figure out were he wanted to go. MAYBE JUST MAYBE we would be playing in this CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. Do you know if you cut the head off the snake. The body will die,but the head is still capable of killing you. PHILBIN is the head of all this madness. Please SOMEONE get to ROSS and tell him. The HEAD got to be BURIED. Maybe MARINO can get HIS CO-HOST to come COACH.

Ship shape

The circus will continue as long as Rosso the puckered anus face clown runs the show.

Daddy

Self made?

His uncle was worth $775M.

Ron Zook Is The Worst Blogger In All of College Football

Ross began his career as a tax attorney at Coopers & Lybrand in Detroit. In 1968, he moved to New York City and accepted a position as an assistant vice president in the real estate subsidiary of Laird Inc.and then worked in the corporate finance department of Bear Stearns. In 1972, he left employment and living off $10,000 lent to him by his mother (his wealthy uncle Max Fisher did not assist him),[12] he utilized his federal tax law knowledge to organize deals for wealthy investors allowing them to shelter income with the generous incentives granted by the federal government to promote the construction of federally subsidized affordable housing.[12] He was very successful, earning $150,000 in his first year,[12] and he was soon arranging more complicated transactions. Using his earnings along with his newfound experience, he started to develop real estate on his own and with an emphasis on high-quality architecture and engineering, he quickly earned a solid reputation in the American real estate arena. With a focus on the northeastern United States and Florida, he developed apartments, condominiums, retail, office parks and mixed-use developments. In 1972, he founded The Related Companies, a real estate development company.[13]

Stephen Ross was indeed self made... that was from Wikipedia.

Ron Zook Is The Worst Blogger In All of College Football

Ross began his career as a tax attorney at Coopers & Lybrand in Detroit. In 1968, he moved to New York City and accepted a position as an assistant vice president in the real estate subsidiary of Laird Inc.and then worked in the corporate finance department of Bear Stearns. In 1972, he left employment and living off $10,000 lent to him by his mother (his wealthy uncle Max Fisher did not assist him),[12] he utilized his federal tax law knowledge to organize deals for wealthy investors allowing them to shelter income with the generous incentives granted by the federal government to promote the construction of federally subsidized affordable housing.[12] He was very successful, earning $150,000 in his first year,[12] and he was soon arranging more complicated transactions. Using his earnings along with his newfound experience, he started to develop real estate on his own and with an emphasis on high-quality architecture and engineering, he quickly earned a solid reputation in the American real estate arena. With a focus on the northeastern United States and Florida, he developed apartments, condominiums, retail, office parks and mixed-use developments. In 1972, he founded The Related Companies, a real estate development company.[13]

Self made billionaire.... all the haters made because HE MADE IT happen and took chances. Get over it haters...

Tony Irvine

The coaching and team climate are set by the head coach. I have posted before, this team doesn't respect or even care for him. Note the difference between the output of the Jets, who were playing to try to keep their coach's job and the Dolphins, needing just one win against inferior competition, phoned it in.
The difference was the esteem in which each team held their coach.

Ron Zook Is The Worst Blogger In All of College Football

Stephen Ross is a self made billionaire... never received any money or assistance from his Uncle Max.

blake s

Same nit-picking trolls complaining about a guy who likes other sports.If it were cage fighting...he d criticize the fighter(behind his little computer anyway - but not to his face.)Such tweeds.Amazing where they stick their noses.

dublcotown13

It starts at Ross. The coaching staff is one we basically have by default. The ownership and mgmt have yet to land any of their primary choices. They get rebuffed over and over and it's of little surprise. Only topnotch ownership, mgmt and coaching can acquire and utilize good players to max potential. It's not rocket science. The Herald ought to do a feature, breaking the team from ownership down, pulling no punches.

Dewbert

So, since we have interviewed so many OC’s and haven’t made a decision yet, can we assume that Ross is going to London and China to get an OC from overseas? Actually, I am glad it is taking some time. There is no hurry. We have to interview as many candidates & vet them before making a rush decision.

Stephen

I'm a pube hair away from burning all of my dolphins gear, throwing 32 post-its in a hat well scratch that 31 post-it's because there's no way I would be a Jaguar fan either. I will pick one and that will be my new favorite team one that has a chance at the playoffs in the next 20 years!!! They want to hire Xander's as the new GM??? I thought we couldn't get worse than Ireland? Ross has to be the worst owner in the league, players complaining about the coaching staff, not learning anything new? Players claiming that the players are playing like the coach, flat with no emotion!!! Why can't we fire philbin while we are at it???? How about the o-line coach too? Mediocricy at its finest the Miami Dolphins...Even if we somehow made the playoffs we would get ran over like little girls since we lack intensity!

said d[]_[]h []_[] fan ...

We gots a Top 3 recruiting class... 4 months ago.

g8rseetmya55

reality butes go bite onyour mommas ni--ple you d000sh

blake s

Immature little trolls licking their lollypops again.Such losers and no lifes.Funny.

blake s

BTW it s too bad Ross didn t see the need to entirely clean house.I still don t get where Ross thinks Philbin wasn t the main reason the Dolphins were NOT prepared to play and decisively defeat Buffalo and the Jets.I mean EVEN Ireland could not be blamed for those 2 losses.However he was most definitely fired because of those 2 losses.A fiery Harbaugh-type SF Coach or Seattle s Coach who shows emotion would be great for the Phins.Of course those 2 teams are very,very talent laden and deep.Then the final problem is the best or even some good Coaches don t seem to think the Dolphins GM job is that enticing.(Although for someone with brains and a backbone it would be a great job.)Ross just doesn t seem to be able to find GOOD football leaders for his organization.THAT has been remarkable after his years now as owner of the Dolphin franchise.

Sunny Dee

Philbin likes to surround himself with yes men. He would rather have inferior talent (on players side and coaches side) than elite talent as long as he isn't challenged. He is a loser and I can't believe he an NFL coach.

AnonymousCane

Reality Bites having another day where your reality bites? Sounds like it! I think it must really suck to be you, spending so much of your time on negativity and hate! Get help.

derfyj

Now that all the dirt is out on Philbin, maybe he acts on all that is being said and proves to everyone that he's more than an X's & O's kinda guy. This GM search is gonna Bite Miami in the ASS if they don't clos e this chapter. Makes you wonder if those 2 last games were thrown to get rid of Fireland. This team better produce the next season with a win in the playoffs, not just making it!!! Ross better be smart enough (which he probably isn't) to CLEAN HOUSE and possibly sell the team to rid itself of all this DRAMA!! What is sad is that Winning and the sport has been forgotten about!! We as fans are stuck with Retarded Administrative Practices and BS posturing!! NOT WINNING!!!

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