When the 2013 season was winding down in weeks 16 and 17, the Miami Dolphins were one win away from clinching a playoff berth. Coming off a huge upset win over the New England Patriots, all the Dolphins had to do was beat the lowly Buffalo Bills and/or New York Jets and they would finish the season as the sixth seed in the AFC. A funny thing happened though. They were easily defeated by both the Bills and Jets and the Dolphins collapsed in the last two weeks of the season. Once this happened, hoards of fans, including myself, called for head coach Joe Philbin to be fired. Philbin's status, along with general manager Jeff Ireland, hung in limbo for several weeks while owner Stephen Ross figured out what to do. As we all know, Philbin was kept and Ireland was fired. Was this the right move though? Is Philbin a good coach or is Ross just simply imagining things?
We've only had two years to evaluate Philbin and most would agree that you really can't get a good feel until after three years on the job.Unfortunately, there are many more questions than answers in regards to Philbin and his coaching ability. However, we can look at several stats and trends to see whether or not Philbin is on the right track or not. In this column, I analyzed the number of sacks given up by five teams over the past four seasons. I looked at whether or not the number of sacks given up in a season should translate into a losing record or if it really has no impact. I looked at whether or not it was a huge accomplishment that the Dolphins finished 8-8 this past season despite giving up 58 sacks, the most in the league. I then took all of the data and made a general assumption as to whether or not Joe Philbin is a good coach despite all the turmoil he faced last year. Let's start with the 2013 season.
The data from the 2013 season gives us the five teams who allowed the most sacks throughout the season. Not one of those teams made the playoffs. However, let's look at the records. The Dolphins and Ravens finished 8-8 while the others finished 4-12 and 6-10. Ravens head coach Jon Harbaugh is a Super Bowl coach but couldn't crack the playoffs in a weak conference partly because his team gave up 49 sacks, fourth most in the NFL. For his team to finish 8-8 despite that amount of sacks coupled with the fact that their running game was non-existent, some would say it's a miracle they finished at that record. The same then should be said for the Dolphins, who had a similar makeup. Their offensive line was terrible and they had no running game. They were forced to rely on their defense just about every game but they still managed to finish 8-8 while the other teams couldn't get above six wins. To make sure the 2013 season wasn't a fluke, let's look at other years.
|Green Bay Packers||51||11-5|
|San Diego Chargers||49||7-9|
As you can see, the Cardinals gave up 58 sacks, the same amount as the Dolphins did in 2013. Yet, they finished with a 5-11 record. The only team to finish with a winning record in 2012 were the Green Bay Packers. However, when you have a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers and a good coach like Mike McCarthy, anything is possible and can mask plenty of flaws a team has. The 2012 season shows that a team that gives up a high amount of sacks shouldn't have a good record unless they have an elite quarterback or a good coach. The Jaguars, Chargers and Eagles all finished with losing records and the highest amount of wins were the Chargers with seven. Let's look at 2011.
|St. Louis Rams||55||2-14|