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Dolphins future: Not if, but when

The Miami Dolphins' future seems to be set in stone at this point. The question does not seem to if they make changes, but when will they make them?

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

This is my fourth season running The Phinsider, taking over as the managing editor in July 2011 just before the Miami Dolphins entered what would be the last season of the Tony Sparano. During the end of the Sparano era, I did not call for his job. During the end of the Jeff Ireland era as the team's General Manager, I did not call for his job. I do not believe it is my place to advocate for the firing of a coach or a GM. Staying neutral has always been my goal, no matter what is happening with the team. I try to point out good things when the team gets demolished, and I try to keep a realistic look at the team when things are going really well, pointing to weaknesses that need to be addressed.

The Miami Dolphins have a weakness right now that needs to be addressed.

The time has come for owner Stephen Ross to fire head coach Joe Philbin.

I've never been bothered by Philbin's demeanor when it comes to press conferences. I know it drives some people crazy that Philbin is not demonstrative, throwing things and getting angry on the sidelines. It has never bothered me, though, because Philbin just is not that kind of man. The most boring press conferences come from Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots seem to be doing well. Sparano was highly demonstrative on the sidelines and in the locker room, and that did not turn out so well in Miami.

A coach has to be himself, and he cannot fake intensity. Players will see it and not respect it.

Philbin's failure, and that is what it is at this point, is not how insipid he is during a press conference. He simply has not provided the growth this Dolphins franchise needs. The 2014 Miami Dolphins should be competing for the playoffs, and challenging the Patriots for the AFC East crown. Instead, they are now third in the division, behind New England and the Buffalo Bills, once again sitting at .500 on the year, and languishing in mediocrity.

The Dolphins of 2014 are not that different than the 2013 version, and, in all honesty, are not that far removed from the 2012 team Philbin first coached. The Miami Dolphins need to be progressing, and, in some ways, they are regressing.

The strength of the team, the defense, is falling apart. The tackling has gotten worse, the team cannot stop the run, and the top defensive players, like defensive end Cameron Wake, are suddenly non-existent in the box score. The offense, which is finding a groove with third year quarterback Ryan Tannehill at times, will suddenly forget that the NFL rules allow for running the ball, and will instead pass on every single snap.

Philbin does not control either aspect of those areas, allowing defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor to do their jobs. They are not getting the results needed, however, and that is where Philbin comes in. He is the leader. He is the man in charge. The buck stops with him, and now he has to answer for the failures.

Miami started the final month of the NFL regular season with their playoff lives in their own hands. After two straight losses, in which Miami was outscored 69-26, the Dolphins are simply trying to stay afloat at this point. Sure, the season could end with two straight wins and a 9-7 record, which would, technically, be an improvement over the 8-8 record with which the Dolphins finished last year.

But is that really progress?

Miami has melted in December each of the last two years. While the top teams in the league are hitting their strides and getting ready for January football, the Dolphins are getting ready to pack their lockers and slink away for another postseason wondering what could have been.

Now is the time to let go of Philbin. Give the team the clear signal that another year of mediocrity is unacceptable. Show the fans that there is hope that the Dolphins will find their way back to relevance again, even if it means another coaching search.

If Ross wants Jim Harbaugh, which rumors continue to indicate, firing Phibin now gives Miami a chance to begin the work to bring him to South Florida.

The firing of Philbin feels like an inevitable decision at this point, more of a when-not-if type of scenario. If that is true, doing it early is better than waiting.

It's time to be decisive. As much as I do not want to call for someone's job, the time is now to fire Philbin and get the Dolphins' ship righted. Install Bill Lazor as the interim head coach for the final two game, then go get the guy you want, whether that is Harbaugh or someone else. Talk to your next head coach about his offensive system, and see if there is some way to keep Lazor as the offensive coordinator, preventing quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the offense from having to learn a third offensive system in three years. Or, don't and gut the whole thing.

Ross needs to come out and give the Dolphins a direction, because right now, the only direction Miami seems to have is circling the drain on their way to another mediocre season.