We all know about Philbinland.
It’s that magical place that Joey P. goes to in his own head on game day. The place where you call a timeout so the opponent can regroup. The place where you give away points because you’re too unobservant to call for a challenge. The place where you lose game after game and then say, “I made the right calls” and “We will get better.”
And, most sad of all, Philbinland is the place where you can have zero accomplishments in three years and still be given extra time and millions and millions of extra dollars.
Let’s face it: Joe Philbin’s sense of common football strategy and reality is off-base. His decisions cost us games, and that is a fact.
So when Dolphins Truth attempts to analyze Philbin’s two coordinators, it becomes difficult.
Starting with Kevin Coyle, we have to guesstimate how much of Coyle’s failures are his own fault, the players’ fault, or Philbin’s fault.
When the defense plays well, we can give Coyle some due credit. Let’s not forget that the Dolphins shut out San Diego last year, and an NFL shutout is a rare thing. No matter what Philip Rivers did, the Dolphins had an answer. When the Chargers made some progress, the D got tough, and stopped them from scoring. Coyle was reading their offense very well, and making the correct adjustments.
But then compare that game to Week 17, when we had a big lead on the NY Jets and the defense blew it. Compare that also to losing a game to Buffalo, with one of the worst offenses and the worst QB in the NFL over the past decade. And let’s not forget a blowout loss to the lowly Titans in 2013, among others.
In all those games, the defense forgot to show up. And again, we’re faced with the curious task of trying to figure out who to blame, Coyle or Philbin.
In the case of the defense, I think Coyle deserves the majority of the blame for bad calls and decisions, but Philbin is also fallible for allowing it to happen.
Coyle’s system is too complex at times. I’m not a defensive expert, but i believe people who are. When you watch Dolphins games, the TV analysts often pointed out that we run too many defensive schemes and stunts, and I think that is true.
I was a huge fan of Paul Solai bull rushing up the middle. And then Randy Starks. These guys were very successful when they outmanned the opponent and made their push. But far too many times, Coyle asked them to line up in funky positions, loop around end, drop back into zone blitzes, etc. it was not effective.
I compare this to what the Buffalo Bills do. Kyle Williams is a slow, fat white guy who does one thing and one thing only: He rushes up the gut. Williams has no other skills except moving straight forward, yet he is a deserving FOUR-TIME Pro Bowler. Philbin and Coyle need to learn this: Let your defense do what they do best, and stay out of their way. Success will come.
If I see Kong Suh drop back into coverage or try to race around end on a stunt, I will scream.
So again, we blame Coyle for overly complex schemes, and we also blame Philbin for not correcting this.
In the secondary, we had some success early in the season with CB blitzes, but these pretty much disappeared by the end of the year. I would guess that our depleted DBs and injuries forced us to be more conservative later in the year… I mean, you don’t want JamarTaylor of Will Davis running a complicated blitz play when they can’t even cover a zone.
But still, you have to at least try to fool the offense with different looks, and I don’t feel Coyle did this later in the year. I mean, Geno Smith had all day to analyze our defensive formations and then pick us apart. That again falls on Coyle.
The linebacking crew was interesting. A lot of us wanted to see more of Chris McCain last year, especially toward the end when we were already eliminated. But injuries and a stubborn Joe Philbin dictated that we keep the same guys throughout. Jason Trusnik stepped in well as a role player, but he is now off to Carolina. Wheeler and Ellerbe are gone as well. Koa Misi is a reliable LB, but he was a reliable LB when he first started in the NFL. Unfortunately, he has not improved since day one. He’s not bad, but he’s not better than last year either.
Do you blame Coyle when a player doesn’t improve under his tenure? That’s another iffy question where it’s hard to blame Coyle 100%, but it’s also hard to absolve him.
You have to look at guys like Karlos Dansby and Vontae Davis. They were averaverage players as Dolphins, but they became All-Pros when they were coached differently on new teams. That shows me that their skill set was there all along. If coaches on other teams saw the value of Davis and Dansby, and if thos coaches knew how to use them, why couldn’t Coyle and Philbin?
The team is determined to not look back, but rather look forward. So we can do that too. I think our defense can be better this year, than last year.
- I’d like to see us stop a QB draw for once.
- I’d like to see us get off the field on third downs, and not allow the opponent to convert third downs into firsts.
- I’d like to see Kong Suh in there on 99% of the plays. He’s an adult…when he is tired he will tell the coaches. He doesn’t need Joe Philbin to guess when he’s tired and bench him.
- I’d like to see one of our DBs draw some fear from an opposing QB. Grimes has that ability at times, but no one else on our team does. Sorry, but I’m not sold on Reshad Jones as a potential All Pro yet. I hope I’m wrong.
- I’d like to see our defense make adjustments AFTER the opponent made adjustments. We got destroyed in the second halves of the Patriots and Broncos games, for example, because the opponent made halftime adjustments and we did not adjust to those adjustments. Tom Brady ate us alive, and our defense stood back and watched.
- And finally, I’d like to see our defense close out some games when we need them most. It’s up to Coyle to get them there.