With everyone else focused on what happens next, I figured I'd take a few minutes to throw in my two cents as well. After the loss this Sunday, I could not even bear to read anything about the dolphins until today. In fact, I instructed my wife to not even speak the word "dolphin" in front of me. Unfortunately though, I've spent the last two days in the woods on vacation thinking about what went wrong and who to truly focus my frustration towards.
Before I get into that, let me just first say that I still can't quite comprehend what happened these last two weeks of the season. Even during the stretch of the season where we lost four straight, it was at least a little bit easier to understand. In three of those four games, we simply lacked the ability to put the game away and played what I call Russian Rouellete football which is essentially a play-not-to-lose mentality.
I've always believed that you have to keep a killer mentality in the NFL as you only have a 50/50 shot of winning if you are always playing for a last second win. Miami has notoriously played in close games and allowed lesser opponents to hang with them and then potentially pull off the upset. This can be seen most clearly in the Bucs game where we intercepted the ball up by one in the fourth quarter and changed our play calling to play for a field goal instead of trying to put the game away. Of course, we ended up losing that game by three points.
I felt it safe to assume that if we choked these last two weeks it would be a direct result of us allowing a lesser opponent to hang in the game. I, in no scenario, expected to see us just thoroughly handled by both teams and for neither game to be within a one possession scoring difference. Sure, you can blame Tannehill for having a bad game against the Jets, blame the offensive coordinator for calling some questionable play calls, blame the offensive line for falling apart, blame the run defense for being non-existent, or even blame Nolan Carroll for being Nolan Caroll, but the truth is that all of these problems have been there all season. We were finding ways to win in spite of our rather obvious flaws. Just a week earlier, the same team with the same problems beat the New England Patriots.
I refuse to accept the theory that we are not talented enough to be in the playoffs. We have some large holes that we definitely need to fill, but this current roster should have been good enough to at least get a wild card spot. When we are playing at our best, we can hang with anyone in the NFL. This is why I put primary blame on Philbin over Ireland. If the personnel was good enough two weeks ago, then it's still good enough today. I don't see how you can blame this type of collapse on anyone other than the coach first and foremost.
With that being said, the Dolphins were just flat these last two weeks. There was no sense of urgency, no inspired play, no leadership, no motivation, no fire, nothing. They just didn't seem to realize what was truly at stake. When asked in a roundabout way about this, Philbin answered (paraphrasing) that he didn't feel the need to motivate these players as they were professionals. In concept this makes sense, but it just isn't practical for a NFL head coach. One of the main functions of a head coach is to be the leader and motivator, and when your profession revolves around a game, a lack of motivation can be the difference in winning and losing. You can say that the players didn't execute, but perhaps they weren't as inspired to execute?
Some of you reading this may still be skeptical, so let me put it into application with my own personal job. I oversee multiple teams in an office environment where each associate is expected to have high productivity allowing us to have high revenue totals each month. For much of the year, we have been able to hit our revenue goals each month. However, every November and December, I can expect to have to spend some extra time motivating my associates to produce the same amount of work as they had done the months prior. This is largely due to the holiday season where many associates are simply not as motivated with their jobs and more focused on shopping, eating, etc. If they do not produce, I'm going to have to answer some serious questions to the VP in the company. I can blame the associates, but at the end of the day, I'm responsible for managing outcomes and doing whatever is necessary to achieve the desired results.
I was shocked when we came out into the Buffalo game flat, but I was just stunned when we repeated this in the Jets game. Could you tell that the season was on the line? Could you tell that we were the team fighting for the playoffs? As much as I can not stand Ryan, I can appreciate the fire that he shows as a head coach. Moving on from this first point regarding the lack of motivation, we can focus on play calling. There have been many coaches who were fiery on the sideline, but had no practical game planning. As a Gator fan, I can relate to this really well while watching Muschamp on the sideline. Sadly, I don't believe Philbin has it together on either front. His refusal to adapt and change his game planning has led to more and more predictability and failure. Additionally, both of his coordinators have made some extremely questionable decisions this year. This is a reflection on the head coach. You have to be able to recognize what isn't working and make the needed changes DURING THE SEASON.
I will say that Philbin is still a relatively new head coach; however, in order for him to be successful, I believe that he is going to have to change his very core as a head coach. I don't see this happening which is why I think that we should move on to someone else. Perhaps, we can at least make the playoffs with changes at the offensive coordinator level and an upgraded offensive line, but I could never see Philbin taking us to the promise land or maintaining long-term success. Let me throw in that I would absolutely love to be wrong on this. However, I believe we are best suited with someone young and fresh who can bring creativity and a new culture to the Fins. We had all hoped that this person would be Philbin, but that clearly is not the case as these are the same Dolphins that we have come to know and ummm love?
By the way, did anyone else see Tannehill picking his nose on the sideline while watching our season crash to an end?