What Joe Philbin wants, Joe Philbin gets. - Jim Rogash
The Miami Dolphins' decision to pass on free agent receiver Greg Jennings in favor of speedster extraordinaire Mike Wallace was an intriguing one, considering that head coach Joe Philbin served as offensive coordinator to Jennings and the Green Bay Packers for five seasons. In a recent interview with Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer Tom Silverstein, Philbin explained why he chose Wallace over his former pupil.
Since the day Joe Philbin landed in Miami as the new head coach of the Dolphins, fans and analysts alike have expected the former Green Bay offensive coordinator to turn his new team into "Packers south." It's a novel thought, really--Philbin coordinated and oversaw some mighty fine talent during his time in northern Wisconsin--but while he did bring some of Green Bay's offensive elements with him to Miami (namely a West Coast offense and zone-blocking scheme), Philbin has resisted the temptation to get any of his former players into aqua and orange. The media, meanwhile, has done everything but resist the temptation to draw parallels between Philbin and former Packers on the market. When the Dolphins hired Philbin, it led to countless rumors that the team would aggressively pursue Packers quarterback Matt Flynn in free agency. The result? Lukewarm interest from the Dolphins resulted in Flynn signing with the Seattle Seahawks. One year later, he's all but on his way out of Emerald City, thanks to the success of rookie signal caller Russell Wilson.
Then there were the rumors last fall that the Dolphins were heavily interested in dealing for Pack wideout James Jones. No one would've blamed Philbin for trying to secure that deal. The Dolphins' receiver group was as bare as Ben Affleck's house in Boiler Room, and Jones has proven to be a first-rate receiver since he came out of San Jose State in 2007. Of course, much like the Flynn deal, the Dolphins' reported interest was just that: interest.
Fast forward to this offseason and a free agency pool that contained yet another Packer--this time Greg Jennings, arguably Green Bay's best and most reliable pass catcher. Reports linking Jennings to Miami began to surface last September after sources indicated that the team would not attempt to re-sign the then-sixth-year receiver. Again, the idea of Jennings in Miami made plenty of sense: he was already familiar with the West Coast offense and Philbin's coaching style, and would serve as almost a plug-and-play type of receiver in an offense requiring results pronto.
We all know how it went down, though: the Dolphins signed Wallace shortly after free agency opened on March 12, and Jennings signed with the Minnesota Vikings later in the week.
Now, the Dolphins' decision to pass on Jennings wasn't much of a surprise. Several NFL writers last month tweeted the rumor that Philbin "wasn't much of a Jennings fan," and it's not like this was the first time Philbin turned down the chance to bring a former Packer to Miami.
Philbin explained the team's decision to pursue Wallace, as well as the "not a fan of Jennings" rumor during a recent interview with Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer Tom Silverstein.
"We did a lot of homework," Philbin told Silverstein. "We charted every catch he's made for the last couple of years, we charted every drop he's made for the last couple of years. We got it on a picture and we know where all the dots are: inside the numbers, outside the numbers, this deep, that deep. When you're a receiver in the National Football League, you're kind of charged with a couple of simple jobs. One is to get open and two to catch the ball, and No. 3 to block if it's a run. We expect him to get open; we expect him to catch the ball and hopefully make a couple of guys miss after."
You can read NFL.com's take on the Philbin/Wallace/Jennings triangle here.