It is no secret that Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin has made plenty of mistakes during his first two years of coaching the team. With any rookie head coach, you understand that there will be growing pains as they try to find out what works and what doesn’t. The biggest thing though is whether or not that coach learns from their mistakes so they don’t make the same one again down the road.
With Philbin getting a third season to prove himself, that’s one of the biggest questions heading into the 2014 season.
At the Annual Owners’ Meetings this past week, Philbin spoke to the local media. He talked about Lamar Miller and said that he may have over-coached him last year as he focused on ball security. Philbin is recognizing his mistake of being too focused on one thing when working with his players. When a player is constantly worrying about ball security, they tend to zero in on that and stop trusting their instincts. If Miller is given the chance to just run, he may be able to gain better field vision and start breaking more tackles in the open field.
Of course, the locker room scandal was brought up and Philbin said he had many sleepless nights over the whole situation. However, the scandal might be the best thing to happen to Philbin and his coaching career as it taught him many lessons.
To begin, he is undecided on how he will structure the team’s leadership council this coming season. Last year, the players voted for the leaders. That’s how Richie Incognito was voted in. Philbin, putting a lot of trust in his players, didn’t overturn the vote. If he had, it would have created many more problems. I don’t expect Philbin to allow the players to have complete say over the leadership council. Instead, it will most likely be a collaborative effort between coaches and players.
Another thing the scandal taught him was that he needs to have better communication with the players. Philbin said he needs to be more accessible and plans to be more visible in meetings, the locker room and hallways. While he has been around before, it wasn’t nearly enough and he plans to change that.
This is obviously great news. Players need to be reminded that the head coach is there and the head coach needs to have a pulse on the team. If you were to almost never see your boss, you would begin to get a little too comfortable and begin to slack off. That’s what has been happening with the Dolphins the past two years. With Philbin reminding them on a daily basis that he’s there and he’s the one in charge, it should stop the complacency in the locker room.
In terms of the offseason, Philbin said that they have been disciplined in their spending this year and aren’t spending just to spend. This seems to be a shot at former GM Jeff Ireland. It’s not smart to go out and throw money at everyone. History shows that teams who do that aren’t successful in the short and long term.
Philbin has learned from that experience last year and has collaborated with GM Dennis Hickey to tackle free agency the right way this year by making a splash or two to begin, and then finding value leading up to the draft and season.
Based on his comments, it’s clear that Philbin is evaluating himself and figuring out what he needs to do to improve. As unpopular as it might be, owner Stephen Ross made the right move in keeping Philbin. Just as a quarterback is given three years to prove himself, a coach should be given three years to prove himself as well. If Philbin doesn’t get better this year, we know he was given a fair chance but just couldn’t get the job done.
If I had to put money on it though, I’d say that Philbin will improve, and he is already on the right track for a successful 2014 season.