The recent developments in the Jonathan Martin – Richie Incognito situation has shown us one thing: Joe Philbin is to blame for the turmoil in the Miami Dolphins’ locker room.
First and foremost, an NFL head coach needs to know what’s going on within his own locker room. If there’s a player bullying another player, sending him threatening voicemails and text messages while making him feel uncomfortable on a daily basis, the head coach has to be aware of it.
On top of that, a head coach needs to earn enough trust from his players to where they can come to him with problems – especially those that could be deemed as hate crimes. Several reports indicate that he did in fact meet with Martin during the spring to discuss some concerns, but he believed that the issue was squashed at that point.
Obviously he was wrong, or else we wouldn’t be discussing this issue right now.
If anything, Martin bringing the issue to Philbin’s attention only made things worse, which leads me to believe that Philbin didn’t take care of the situation properly and that the head coach doesn’t have any clout in his own locker room. If he did, Incognito would have backed off and this would be a non-issue.
Clearly, Philbin did not address the issue with an iron fist, which is why Incognito continued to pester Martin, leading the offensive tackle to suffer some sort of emotional breakdown.
There’s no clear answer as to what the Dolphins should do at this point. They could fire Philbin, but that wouldn’t do much besides cause even more midseason tension within the Miami locker room. They’ve already suspended Incognito, but that’s merely a temporarily solution. Until they can find a way to make Martin feel safe while being back with the team, the problem will persist.
One way or another, the Dolphins need to find a way to gain some control over their locker room. This entire situation has been a nightmare, and Philbin is the main source of frustration. His inability to have his fingers at the pulse of his team could cost him his job at season’s end.
For now, though, don’t expect things to get any easier for the Dolphins. What was once a promising season has quickly escalated to Miami being the NFL’s own sideshow.