Joe Philbin Can Still Be Don Shula

It has been 24 hours since the Miami Dolphins have lost to the New York Jets and ended the season as an average team. Heading into the season there was so much buzz, a legit interest in this Dolphin team compared to previous years. A second year quarterback, a spending spree that would make a sugar daddy feel good about himself. But a couple questions need to be asked. Is this Dolphin team better than last year? Is this team any good? Do we fire Jeff Ireland and Joe Philbin? What about offensive coordinator Mike Sherman?

Today Coach Philbin was asked if Mike Sherman should be retained as the teams offensive coordinator. He deflected the question as usual. Evaluation is needed and was said multiple times from Philbin, yesterday and today. Many think changes needed to be made.

It has been a season of up and downs, a season of three game winning streaks followed by four game losing streaks, only to alternate wins and losses for four weeks and then to lose the final two games against division rivals and the final wild card spot.

But if this team made the final playoff spot, would they be better at 9-7 compared to 8-8? The answer is no, this Dolphin team is average at best. They are the same exact team as they were last year.

The past two weeks they didn’t lose to inferior opponents, they lost to teams that were better than them. Since the Dolphin loss, the entire fan base has practically been walking around with pitchforks on their twitter accounts. They are furious with anger and justified. They feel the Dolphins are a 11-5 team on paper and want to blame the entire organization for going 8-8.

I actually disagree, cases are being made for Joe Philbin to get fired and join the Black Monday list of coaches. I don’t think Philbin should be gone, but would it bother me if he was fired? No, I can care less. I have the mindset that NFL coaching is overrated, we as fans and media love to blame the coaches for outcomes of games and give credit to coaches for when a team succeeds. I believe a General Manager is more important than a Head Coach and if it is up to me I would have a robot roaming the sidelines with the voice of Siri. But that’s just me. Ultimately, the GM picks the players and they perform. That’s how it works in sports.

If I were to get rid of anyone this offseason in the Dolphins front office it would be Jeff Ireland, not Joe Philbin. Ireland was the one drafting the players for the past five years, he is the one signing free agents. Not Joe Philbin. But I get the anger. Philbin doesn’t give the good coach speak, he isn’t Rex Ryan. He doesn’t “inspire”, “players don’t play for him” and “he doesn’t get the team up.” He doesn’t have teams prepared coming out of a bye week or it is the last game of the season and the team was flat?

Really?

Is it Joe Philbin’s fault that Ryan Tannehill can’t complete a deep pass? Is it Joe Philbin’s fault that the offensive line gave up a franchise worst 58 sacks? I have a hard time assessing an impact of a game or a team and the contribution a coach makes without seeing what they do on a daily basis. I look at what I do know. Ultimately players have to perform. If they don’t play well consistently and make mistake after mistake they aren’t a good player. It is simple. And that is where you can assign the blame to Jeff Ireland, being a general manager is absolutely hard. Not every pick is going to hit, more than half the picks don’t pan out but going 8-8 in your fifth year does not cut it. It has taken a GM and a team five years to get to a .500 record.

For all the upgrades the Dolphins have made in key positions they downgraded as well. Add that up with average players, a below average offense and an above average defense you get an average team in the NFL. You get an 8-8 team, the Dolphins didn’t collapse in the end. They were what we thought they were: an average team. They are the team that loses 19-0 in week 16 at Buffalo and at best they are a team that beats New England 24-20. Add those two games with randomness, parody and a league that is set up that way and you have an average team.