Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin is heading into his fourth season with the team having never finished the year better than 0.500. It continues a streak that deats back to the Tony Sparano era with the team, one that now has Miami at or below 0.500 for six straight years, and in eight of the last nine seasons. It is a streak that grew old quickly for fans, and one that, if it does not end this year, could find the team once again rebuilding.
Philbin spoke with ESPN.com over the weekend, and expressed some of the same frustration:
"I came here to win championships. I didn't come here to be average and be 8-8. Steve Ross doesn't own the team to be average. Our fans don't want to be average. Our players don't want to be average. So that's what we're here for. That's why we invest and put the effort, the time into what we do."
The Dolphins have a lot of money tied into turning the franchise around, including an extension for fourth-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the record-setting free-agent signing of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, and a complete overhaul of the wide receiver corps. This is the year Miami is looking to shake the "average" title and make their mark on the NFL.
"There's three championships right now that are out there: There's the AFC East, there's the AFC and there's the NFL championship, so nothing's been decided," Philbin added. "I can honestly tell you, sitting here, we've had a couple of clunkers in three years. But we haven't had a ton of clunkers where we just got manhandled from start to finish. So I've gone into every game thinking we're going to win every game."
The Dolphins fell apart down the stretch last year, with the defense suddenly losing their way. It was not the first season in which Miami wilted late in the season, and the team has to find answers to that problem if they are going to challenge for any of those three championships. The team does not have to win every game, but they have the talent this year to win enough games to change 0.500 into at least 0.563 and some January football.