Joe Philbin is a smart man.
While enduring criticism in his first three seasons as an NFL head coach, some of it deserved, some of it overblown, it’s no secret that Philbin’s name figures prominently on most lists of NFL coaches on the hotseat. And Philbin is certainly aware of the warming under his backside as he enters his fourth season leading the Miami Dolphins.
Owner Stephen Ross set the bar with recent comments to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald regarding his expectations heading into 2015.
“There has to be improvement,” Ross said. “What is improvement? I mean, there could be other circumstances, but I’m looking to make the playoffs. And I think Joe’s looking to make the playoffs. And that’s the expectation for all of us.”
Most fans see 2015 as the benchmark season for Philbin and his staff. Simply put, if the Dolphins fail to make the playoffs, Ross will makes changes, and Philbin would likely be the first to be shown the door. And after one of the more promising offseasons in recent history, Philbin knows exactly where those expectations lie. He told Salguero that anyone paying attention to this team will certainly notice the differences this year.
“It’s kind of an ongoing process,” said Philbin. “The plan isn’t complete yet, but I know it isn’t going to be exactly the same, because exactly the same hasn’t been good enough, exactly the same has been average. We’ve been 8-8. I have to do better, and I plan on doing better.”
On Sunday, Philbin told ESPN.com, “I can honestly tell you ... we've had a couple of clunkers in three years. But we haven't had a ton of clunkers where we just got manhandled from start to finish ... I've gone into every game thinking we're going to win (that) game.
"I came here to win championships. I didn't come here to be average and be 8-8. Steve Ross doesn't own the team to be average. Our fans don't want to be average. Our players don't want to be average. So that's what we're here for. That's why we invest and put the effort (and) the time into what we do."
It’s refreshing to hear that Philbin knows where his shortcomings are, sees where he needs to improve, and is striving to do exactly that. And he wants to make it clear that while his coaching philosophy may be very much the same as it was during his rookie season, his approach has changed.
“We’re going to talk about how we interact with and coach our guys every single play during practice better than we have in the past,” Philbin told Salguero. “Sometimes you’re a coach and you’re looking at what you’re running - I right YAM 97 pitch X hook - and you’re looking at your script all the time. I want us to have more instruction and more feedback on the field.
“It doesn’t have to be more yelling or more screaming to be better. It’s just trying to make everything better. We got to have guys to step up, and that’s what the coach’s job is. That’s without a doubt. This profession is demanding, and we all want results, and I do too. For the fans, for everybody. We want to push this thing up another notch. We have to.”
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball
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