Well the conclusion of this season was devastating and embarrassing. I have never seen a team with so much to play for come up so empty. Twice. Against sub-500 teams. Against division rivals. I have never been so disappointed by a Dolphins team (and I'm only 20, so 2008 is pretty much the only good season I had the pleasure of enjoying). After a win against the Patriots, I truly thought this franchise has turned a corner. The last two games genuinely put us right back where we have been: on the cusp of contention but left scratching our heads.
One thing I do want to point out about our recent teams are that we have been relatively competitive. There is a HUGE difference between 7-8/8-8 and 4-12. So there is someone, or some things, that we are doing right. It is important right now that use our brains and identify what is right and what is wrong, because getting rid of players, coaches, or officials that are doing their job right is ridding yourself of some of the harder things to find in the NFL.
To be frank, I cannot point the finger at Ireland. When you look at our team, we truly have a talented roster. Our defensive line has been one of the best in the NFL. Brent Grimes was a great pickup, same with Patterson. Our safety duo looked like one of the best in the NFL last season. Our WR corps is solid. Lamar Miller looks like a talented runner, and I think Tannehill will be a very good NFL QB in his career. He has done a good job. Even with the bad LB signings, it is hard for me to point to the roster as the problem.
That leads us to coaching. Our offensive play-calling was timid and unbalanced. Our defense never seemed to make the best use out of our players. In particular, Reshad Jones and Wheeler were given responsibilities that don't play to their strengths. Even Ellerbe talked about how the Ravens let him play more "downhill and instinctive". Jones went from being a TOP 5 safety in the NFL to a relatively ineffective one all based on Coyle's scheme! Every great coach knows you scheme TO your personnel, you aren't so arrogant as to think your scheme is more important. Our team came out flat as can be in the two most important games in recent Dolphins memory. I just can't help but look at recent successful coaches like Tomlin, Carroll, and the Harbaugh brothers and see they are strong EMOTIONAL leaders, something Philbin clearly lacks.
I think we are being a little too kind to this coaching staff. We saw some greatness in this team this year, a ton of hope, a ton of heart, and we want to believe what is in place can get over the hump. You saw a similar thing happen with the Carolina Panthers this year (when Chud left, Rivera went from a scapegoat to a savior). However, I think it's clear that on most levels this is an unsuccessful staff. Save for the solid development of Tannehill, I can't really point to a concrete example of scheming or developing players that is impressive (except the D-Line coach who is FANTASTIC). I think it's time to move in yet another direction, a new coach doesn't necesarily mean sacrificing a year either, as first-year coaches like Harbaugh, McCoy, and Carroll have done well in recent memory. Sorry Philbin, I just don't think you have the emotional leadership ability or scheme-smarts to keep this job.