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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

The Dolphins Still Have A Big Mess To Clean Up

Illustration for article titled The Dolphins Still Have A Big Mess To Clean Up

The Dolphins fired Joe Philbin yesterday—by phone, it turns out—and we got the usual post-firing report on how dysfunctional things had gotten under his tenure. But another report today says Miami players won’t be content with just a new head coach—they want both coordinators out too.


The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson has a postmortem of a miserable first four weeks, and he makes it sound like the real problems are with the individual units—and that defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle is outright despised.

Players didn’t loathe Philbin but felt he was neither a motivator (obviously) nor an X’s and O’s savant (clearly) and didn’t bring any special talent to the job.

But one player sentiment expressed to us by multiple people was this: The benefits of a change from Philbin to Campbell will be marginal if defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle or offensive coordinator Bill Lazor isn’t replaced.

Coyle is as disliked by his players as any coach we’ve encountered here. Players pleaded with him in a meeting last Monday to change his approach, including his read-and-react style which keeps defensive linemen from attacking as much as some would wish. Coyle made some concessions but not enough to please them.


Last season, a lot of players appreciated Lazor’s abilities as a play-caller even though some were turned off by his personality. This season, though, there has been considerable internal questioning of his play-calling, including his lack of commitment to the running game, which frustrates several players.

The report about Coyle seems to jibe with everything that’s come out over the first month of the season about the defense’s dissatisfaction with his schemes, culminating in Ndamukong Suh wearing sneakers to practice as a protest. But Coyle and Lazor are at least temporarily safe—you can’t clean house midseason of all the coaches, not if you want to field a team capable of running plays. (OK, maybe you might not notice the difference with these Dolphins.)

Jackson’s story also has independent confirmation of the report that Ryan Tannehill reacted poorly to getting beaten in practice, telling one he’d prepare a scout-team trophy case.

Greg Bedard makes the argument—Armando Salguero does too—that the Dolphins’ problems are on owner Stephen Ross, who has managed to set up a series of power struggles between coaches and executives that are doomed to fail, and has excused himself so far from the team’s day-to-day operations that he has no idea how bad things have gotten. The players seem to like interim head coach Dan Campbell, and he can probably beat up any other NFL head coach, but damned if a fresh coat of paint is the answer for a team that rots from the inside.