Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Hiring of Joe Philbin: Can He Lead The Dolphins Out of The Abyss?

Almost a week ago the Miami Dolphins hired Joe Philbin to be their head coach.

This was after the team lost out on getting Jeff Fisher (a blessing in my opinion) due to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross insisting that General Manager Jeff Ireland be part of the decision making process.

Now there are many fronts that Ross needed to address when hiring a new head coach after the firing of Tony Sparano. The main ones were: generating fan buzz, generating player buzz, and having a steady hand after the Jim Harbaugh fiasco last off season.

The most important factor the Dolphins had to consider in this coaching search was generating fan buzz. It's no secret around the NFL that enthusiasm among Dolphin fans has been waning. The fact that the team had to buy tickets a few times to avoid TV blackouts during the season is evidence of this. Ross did state that he promised that he would be getting a coach that would be 'the next Don Shula' (aka. someone that could cause seats and luxury boxes to be filled.) Philbin's hiring doesn't seem to fit that criteria. This might be a blessing though as the Dolphins are a team that needs plenty of work. This means success won't happen overnight, something that an already established coach might not have the patience for.

The second major factor in this coaching search was generating player buzz. The hiring of Philbin, who was the offensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers, has already drawn speculation in the blogosphere/twitterverse that the Dolphins will be signing quarterback Matt Flynn from the Packers. This idea may be in jeapordy as there is also speculation that the Seatlle Seahawks are trying to make a move for Flynn as well.

If this sounds familiar, it's because it is. During Mike Holgrem's tenure as head coach/GM of the Seahawks he made a trade for then Packers backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

Flynn aside, it looks like the Dolphins may have to look towards free agency for finding a fix at QB. The draft position the Dolphins have (currently #9) seems to leave them out of the running for both consensus #1 draft pick Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, whom the Cleveland Browns seem poised to pick with the #4 spot.

While Philbin may not as sexy of a name as Fisher or Bill Cowher he is widely respected throughout the NFL, something that might prove to be an asset once this off season starts.

The third major factor in the search was having a steady hand to guide the team. No one and I mean no one believed that Sparano was in a good position after Ross & Ireland flew to the West Coast to lure Harbaugh out out Stanford...while having a head coach on payroll. That little misadventure gave the Dolphins a black eye it didn't need, starting the season of a seven game losing streak didn't help either. Philbin's hiring seems to provide the steadiness that the Dolphins need in a head coach.

Now let me be blunt here, Philbin will get a pass in the upcoming season due to the tragic death of his son two weeks ago. Any firing after that would be highly insensitive. After that Philbin will have to show that his formula of fast paced play outlined in his introductory press conference is able to compete against the rest of the AFC.

Now, there is already disappointment that the Dolphins didn't get a sexy name to take the job (my personal hope was for John Gruden), but I'm going to play Devil's Advocate for a bit. Ross saw that Harbaugh had great potential to be an NFL coach & it was proven by the San Francisco 49ers being two special teams turnovers away from playing in the Super Bowl. Maybe Philbin can do the same.

Granted, the wild card in all of this is Ireland. If he can't get real talent that Philbin can build around it won't matter what will happen.

In the end we don't know what exactly Philbin will bring to the Dolphins. However, if you judge from how the Packers have looked the last two years maybe Philbin can do what Dolphin fans want.

That folks, is to get out of the Abyss.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Looking back at Drew Brees & his record season

It's always awe inducing watching a record fall. The feeling is stronger when that record belongs to someone legendary to you.

That's what it felt like watching New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees break the NFL single season passing record held by Miami Dolphins legend Dan Marino in Week 16 of  the season.

Now this happened two weeks ago. A column reflecting this feat would logically come within two or three days after it happened. I've held off this long though for two reasons.

1.) There was a realistic chance that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady might match and possibly surpass Brees.

2.) This isn't something that should be done too quickly.

It takes time to reflect on what Brees did. He broke a record that's almost as old as I am, that says something. The fact that he did this AND will probably not win the MVP trophy also says something.

The main reason I say that reflecting on this feat takes time is that writing somethink quickly out of deadline causes one to not fully appreciate how Marino set the mark before. It also causes one to not see how the game of football has changed since Marino played.

When Marino set the mark in 1984 the NFL wasn't a pass happy league. The West-Coast offense didn't fully make a splash and defense mainly controlled the game. Another aspect that is different from today is how much the rules today favor a quarterback. Today the NFL is so protective of quaterbacks that sometimes it feels that breathing on one would warrant a roughing the passer penalty.

Think about it, it took 27 years and for the NFL to tilt the scale drastically in favor of offenses to break this record.

That't the thing about records though, they aren't truly looked at, both good and bad, until they are about to be broken.

So folks, when things like this happen don't simply glance at what's about to be broken. Truly appreciate it for the workit took to that thing to become meaningful.