Mercifully, the Joe Philbin era in Miami has come to an end. Unsurprisingly, seasons of 7-9, 8-8, 8-8, and 1-3 so far this year just weren’t cutting it.
As we know, Philbin previously served as Green Bay’s Offensive Coordinatora��a team that continues to boast one of the most prolific offenses in the league. What can we take away from that? It’s pretty simple, really: it was the talent at his disposal, and not necessarily the coach, that made the team.
As for Philbin, he just never seemed to get a grasp on how to run things. Reports surfaced in October of last year that he was this close to losing the locker room, he wasn’t a�?viewed as a leader,” and the list goes ona��you know, generally things at which head coaches should excel.
He also possessed a type of optimism that came off as more a�?coach-speak” than anything genuine, especially following their loss this past Sunday to the New York Jets. When asked whether or not they could salvage their already seemingly doomed season, he stated:
a�?Absolutely, absolutely. We’ve got to beat the Tennessee Titans first to start salvaging our season. We’ve got to have a look critically at what we are doing in all aspects, which we did. We adjusted some things strength and conditioning-wise this week. We adjusted some meetings. We adjusted some practice time. We adjusted some things schematically. Obviously, it didn’t give us the end result we’re looking for yet. We’ll continue.a�?
We get it, Joe; you adjusted. But did you really? Under his tenure, the Dolphins more or less fielded the same underwhelming team year in and year outa��in terms of results. Ultimately, it came back to haunt Philbin.
On the other hand, was the reality all along that the Dolphins possessed plenty of talent, but that Philbin was holding them back? Let’s take a look at some team leaders since 2012.
Tannehill has been the quarterback for the franchise since Philbin took over, and has steadily improved since 2012, but what about the rest of the offense?
Their leading rusher in 2012 was 27-year-old Reggie Bush, who racked up 986 yards on the ground on 227 carries (4.3 YPC) while also catching 35 passes for 292 yards. That, coupled with a career year in 2011, earned him a contract with the Detroit Lions.
Since the two seasons of Bush, Miami’s leading rusher has been Lamar Miller, a fourth round pick from 2012. In 2013, his first full season as a starter, Miller’s numbers were quite promising: 709 yards on 177 carries (4.0 YPC) and 26 catches in the passing game. The following season would be even better.
Miller carried the ball 216 times for 1,099 yards, this time averaging an impressive 5.1 YPC. In other terms, he was poised to further his development in 2015, right? Well…
Through four weeks, Miller has carried the ball 37 times for 131 yardsa��a less than ideal 3.5 YPC. But, we can’t really hold that against Miller; Miami’s offense has been a joke all season long. Currently, they are 25th in total offense, averaging 314.8 yards per game. In the three seasons prior, they ranked 27th, 27th, and 14th, respectively.
So after what seems like a fluky offensive season last year when surrounded by those other numbers, Miamia��with Tannehill, Miller, and wideouts Rishard Matthews, Jarvis Landry, and Greg Jennings now in the folda��appears to have crashed back to Earth.
Tannehill has completed just 56.7 percent of his passes (97-for-171), which puts him on pace for a career low in that category. Despite that, he leads the league in pass attempts.
Then it’s time for the young wideoutsa��Landry (23), Matthews (26), DeVante Parker (22), and Kenny Stills (23)a��to step up. That said, there’s a lot of raw, unproven talent in this pack. In fact, the most experienced wide receiver on this team is Greg Jennings (32), and his production has been underwhelming ever since leaving the Packers after the 2012 season.
Their receiving group hasn’t always been quite so filled with potential, however. From 2012-2014, their leading wideouts were Brian Hartline, Hartline again, and Mike Wallace. To his credit, Hartline topped 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. In four full seasons aside from those two, his highest yardage total was 615 (2010).
Then there’s Mike Wallace, the Dolphins 2014 leading receiver. Sixty-seven catches for 862 yards is not something you look for in your No. 1 WR option. He did, however, catch 10 of Tannehill’s 27 touchdowns in 2014.
The offense isn’t their only problem, though. When will their defense show up? Through four weeks, Miami is 30th in the league in total defense, surrendering 399.5 yards per game while being in the bottom half of the league by allowing 25.3 points per game.
It’s difficult what to make of these Dolphins. On one hand, there’s an abundance of potential. On the other, they’ve been stuck in a rut the past few years. That’s where it comes down to Philbin: since 2012, he has truly failed in developing this team and taking them to the next level.
They were consistent, but not in a positive way. 2014 showed flashes until a 1-3 stretch from Week 14-17 ended their playoff hopes. That little stumble has carried over to this year, apparently. Are they better than their record? Not right now, no; they’ve played bad football since the season began.
Yet, there’s an undeniable amount of talent on this roster. It’s just going to depend who leads them forward. That said, the Miami Dolphins aren’t going to be missing Joe Philbin anytime soon.