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Monday afternoon: 22 Dolphins notes; clarity offered on Hickey but not staff; Coyle's candor

Lots of Dolphins notes in the wake of the Dolphins coordinators' final press briefing for at least the next four months, barring a change of plans:

### No surprise here, but Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told me today that general manager Dennis Hickey will return next season.

Hickey did good work with the draft, especially with Miami’s top two picks (Ja’Wuan James and Jarvis Landry) and some players with potential that were selected either late (Terrence Fede) or weren’t drafted at all (Damien Williams, Chris McCain, Anthony Johnson).

In free agency, Hickey upgraded considerably at left tackle with Brandon Albert and at safety with Louis Delmas, then made a savvy move by signing Samson Satele during training camp. Knowshon Moreno, another one of Hickey’s pickups, led the league in rushing in Week 1 but played only three games because of a major knee injury. 

### Philbin declined to say if he will retain his coordinators: “There’s a time and place to think about the staff,” he said.

But it’s expected that Bill Lazor will return, and if you read tea leaves, it sounded like Philbin remains committed to Coyle.

I asked Philbin if he agrees with everything that Coyle does philosophically, including shifting the Dolphins to a 4-3 defense when he was hired three years ago. “Absolutely,” Philbin said.

Even with the Dolphins falling to 18th in scoring defense this season? “I can’t dispute part of the facts,” Philbin said. “First two years, we were top 10 in scoring defense.” Seventh and eighth, to be exact.

Philbin admitted that the 41 points allowed to New England “looks terrible.”

But he also poked fun at himself, saying the “genius head coach” tried a 56-yard field goal, which led to a 44-yard touchdown drive. He pointed out that the Vikings had two other TD of drives of 54 yards and one of 5 yards after Jarvis Landry’s fumble.

### Asked if he expects to return next season, Coyle said: “I don’t think it’s my place to answer any of that stuff. We have one game left. It’s not something I’m going to deal with. The future is bright. The organization will see that as we move forward.”

### But Coyle admitted he is “disappointed” with his defense. “I know we’re a lot better than what we showed,” he said. “I think it was very inconsistent. We made some [positive] plays – the sack, Derrick Shelby’s interceptions --- [but] way too many explosive plays, both in technique and in assignment.

"I have to do a better job getting them ready to play. We’re too good a defensive team to make some of the errors we’re making.”

### Dion Jordan played well yesterday but logged only 33 percent of Miami’s defensive snaps (20 overall). I asked Coyle if he needs to re-evaluate how to use him.

"We are going to evaluate everything; that is going to be one of the main topics," Coyle said. "We have got to find ways to utilize him more. There were extenuating circumstances last year with the shoulder and the suspension this year. We’ve got to get him in the right spot and we will evaluate that closely. He has athleticism to do a lot of things. He made a nice open field tackle in coverage; rushed passer, impacted some things. We certainly have to get him on the field more.”

On Sunday, Jordan “played linebacker, played defensive end, couple points we had to move him inside [to tackle]. He played well yesterday. He impacted the game. He was a force on special teams. He affected the play at the end of the game. We’re trying to get him more involved as the season has gone on. We had planned to use him more than ended up being able to.”

He wants Jordan to “continue to get stronger; continue to be a more dynamic pass rusher; We think he has those traits. We have to get to get it out him.”

### Why did Jamar Taylor cover slot receivers Sunday, a new assignment for him? "Cortland (Finnegan) was the primary guy in the slot and with him coming off the ankle injury, we felt over the last couple of weeks to try to get him back in the lineup, the slot position requires a lot of start and stop, quick movement, not that corner doesn’t, don’t get me wrong," Coyle said.

"But certainly when you’re inside like that, it puts an added stress on the change of direction type things because you’re usually covering smaller, quicker, shiftier receivers inside and there is more vertical stuff on the outside. That was one of the reasons. With Louis (Delmas) going down, looking at our safety situation, trying to determine whether or not we’re better with Jimmy (Wilson) deep or bringing Jimmy back into the nickel and bringing one of those younger players in there. There were a lot of factors that came into it. Jamar had been practicing very well in the slot when we’ve had some real competitive situations in practice, so we felt good about it going into the game.”   

### But is he comfortable that Taylor and injured Will Davis can be regular contributors?

“I still would like to see more out of both of them," he said. "I wish by this point we had a better feel. They both have exhibited NFL traits at times but a consistency that hasn’t been up to our standards. They have to compete at an extremely high level” this offseason.

### Coyle raved about Fede, saying “he’s a got a great future ahead of him. We think he will grow into a very effective defensive end.” 

### How did Philbin feel when Ross told him he’s coming back?

“Mostly gratitude. It wasn’t relief. Mostly gratitude. It’s important for me that the owner believes what I’m all about as the coach, heading in the right direction. I wasn’t worried about my own personal future.

“Players deserve a coach that believes in them. It’s important for a coach of an NFL team that the owner believes in him. It’s very important. If you don’t have that belief or faith, it’s not going to work. They have to believe in me as the head coach or we’re not going to achieve any type of success here.”

### Asked how he celebrated keeping his job, Philbin said, “I had one Guinness.”

### Lazor reflected on the year he spent running the offense and molding Tannehill.

He pointed to a few plays Sunday that reflect Tannehill’s growth. “Near the end of the game, completion to Brandon Gibson,… I saw Ryan stand in the pocket with two guys coming off blocks when both guys were about to hit him.”

He praised Tannehill for another play when he threw the ball away to avoid a sack. 

“I watch those things that tell me this guy is playing quarterback,” Lazor said. “When you get a blitz that you weren’t expecting, and you fit it into a tight window. They make a difference. I count all those little plays.” 

### I asked Lazor if he believes if the Dolphins have a good NFL starting quarterback moving forward. “Those aren’t my statements to make,” he said.

### Was this a successful season for the offensive line? “I think so," Lazor said. "Some Mondays, I would say they did great. Some, I wish we had done better…. Late June, we had a workout with Samson Satele and Daryn Colledge. I was probably on the beach in New Jersey. Coach Philbin and [offensive line coach] John Benton were there. You talk about guys who were free agents. You look back at how many games they played for us. It’s a great story of how those guys came in, different places, and provided a lot for us.”

### Lazor on rookie running back Williams, who caught a three-yard touchdown pass on the score that tied the game at 35 with 3:24 left: “It’s obvious the coaches believe in him because he had a lot of reps at the end of the game. There was one hot throw he caught when he was lined up in the slot. We believe in him.”

### Lazor said Lamar Miller didn’t play a lot late in the game because of “wear and tear of the game. It wasn’t injury. We want to use him [a lot in first half and third quarter]. At that point, Lamar had over 50 plays, 150 yards from scrimmage. It was the normal hits a back takes throughout the game. When we get into that type of game is when we think Damien can help us.” 

### Lazor, on Miami’s tight ends: “We know what we have with Charles Clay and we’re getting a clearer picture of what we have in Dion Sims. We feel good about our tight ends.”

### Lazor, on Mike Wallace: “I’ve heard people here with Mike in the past talk about the improvements he’s made. In our first face to face conversation, Mike told me he wanted to do everything a receiver does. He runs, he’s on the Juggs machine extra. I’m impressed by how he’s worked on it. I know how [hard] he works.”

### Though no playoff berth is on the line, Philbin said winning Sunday “is very important" and sees real value in getting to nine wins.

### Philbin said Jason Fox, making first start in place of injured right tackle Dallas Thomas, “did OK [Sunday]. Thought he played hard and contributed nicely to the win.”

### Notable snap counts from Sunday: New No. 3 tight end Gerell Robinson played seven snaps, compared with 64 for Charles Clay and 48 for Dion Sims… Among running backs, Miller had 60, Williams 20 and LaMichael James five…. Philip Wheeler played nine snaps, believed to be his fewest as a Dolphin… Among d-tackles, Randy Starks played the most, which was very rare this season for him (42) and he responded with a sack. Earl Mitchell played 36 and Jared Odrick 34.

### In pass coverage, Brent Grimes allowed six of seven passes thrown against him to be caught for 88 yards and two touchdowns… Jamar Taylor allowed 4 of 5 for 55 yards, Jelani Jenkins 3 of 4 for 71.

### Pro Football Focus gave its highest defensive grades to Cam Wake and Starks and its lowest to Oliver Vernon and Grimes.

### For the second straight week, Tannehill showed encouraging signs on vertical throws. He was 2 for 2 for 74 yards on balls that were thrown at least 20 yards. On balls thrown between 10 and 19 yards, Tannehill was 8 for 12 for 153 yards and two touchdowns…. Tannehill had a 152.9 rating when blitzed, a 41.3 when he wasn’t blitzed.

Tannehill stands 15th in the league in quarterback rating at 93.2.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz 

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