The Dolphins have a different feel coming into this season. What does that mean? Is that enough for the major changes to be put on pause going forward. The big question remains, is Joe Philbin the right man for the job? Sadly that still stands as a question without a specific answer. Yes, the Dolphins did improve from 7-9 in year one, to 8-8 in year two. Ryan Tannehill became a better passer, and the team was on the precipice of the playoffs. However, the team also had the postseason in its own hands and fell to division foes that both were under .500. Not only did they lose to the Bills and the Jets to end all hope, they did it in lackluster fashion. They scored a combined 7 points against two of the worst teams in the league that had nothing on the line. Joe Philbin is still standing after a major change in management, and has vowed to change his management style.
The questions surround the Dolphins, the one that has been constant, is in year 3 is Joe Philbin the man for the future. After a tumultuous 2013 season and even worse off-season, Philbin has promised to do more and be different. His promises specifically were to get out of the film room and be more involved in the locker room. He will be more hands on and make sure his team never has the issues that plagued it this last calendar year. The problem with that is, why is he starting this now? The head coach has to be fully in tune with his ball club. He shouldn’t start in year 3. That has been the issue with Philbin before, and it continues to be his problem, he doesn’t have a clue. Admitting it, true is half the problem, but it’s a scary half. People wonder, was Joe Philbin ill-prepared to be a head man in the NFL, the fact he, in year 3, is now going to do what most coaches do in year one, means he wasn’t. Now after two mediocre seasons he’s ready to lead the Dolphins back to greatness; should seem from a fan’s perspective as something that does not instill confidence.
No one is perfect and everyone does make mistakes. That is something we hear since we are children and does apply to Philbin now. The term “short leash”, fully applies to the Fins’ head coach. The additions Dennis Hickey has made, plus the good working relationship Philbin and Hickey have exhibited are what he says he has needed to succeed. Joe Philbin and former GM Jeff Ireland, we have found out, were working against one another, not together. It is impossible to run a winning franchise in that fashion. All management must be one to win, it has been said the moves thus far this off-season were all decided upon together. Great, then there are no excuses left for Philbin to use if he fails on the field.
The Dolphins are not a championship contender right now, but the way the AFC has taken a step backwards, and where the team was last season in proximity to the playoffs; leaves this season as a playoffs or bust situation for Joe Philbin. Those seem to be high expectations for a team who has gone 15-17 the last two seasons. Well when you spend freely in the off-season on a veteran laden ball club, expectations should be high. In the modern day NFL coaches do not get 5-10 years to win, just look at Tampa Bay, their last two coaches were given 2 years or less to prevail before the axe came down. Stability is needed to win, so it was smart for the Dolphins to give Philbin one more year, but that’s the capper. After that, it is time to move along. Philbin has been the man of many excuses, it’s now time to call his hand and see if the cards he displays win.
Only time will tell what’s in store, but as we move forward that clock sits high over the Dolphins complex in Davie, Florida slowly but consistently ticking in Joe Philbin’s head. Every one deserves a second chance, and Philbin is getting his opportunity to demonstrate the past was on Ireland, the present and future are within his control and he will prevail. Stephen Ross has put his full trust into the former Green Bay Offensive Coordinator, its time for him to earn that trust. The Dolphins do have a good feel to them this off-season, as they have made sound moves putting veteran players with good reputations in positions to lead. This should bode well for the team on the field and the fan-base off of it. However, if it doesn’t, the change in management next season will begin with the letters H and C.