Top Ten Turning Points in the Dolphins 2014 Season…How many are Joe Philbin’s fault?

10.   Week Three.  Kansas City at Miami.
The Chiefs were a winless team with nothing going for them all season.  As the game began, it was the same old Chefs, and they were going nowhere.  It was a field position game that the Dolphins were winning.  But then in the second quarter of a scoreless game, Miami faced a fourth-and-two from the KC 30.  Instead of trying to pick up a mere two yards, or instead of simply punting the ball back to KC and pinning them deep, Philbin chose the worst of the three options.
Joe Philbin decided to try a long (48-yard) field goal with our unreliable kicker, Caleb Sturgis.  The result was predictable:  Sturgis missed the kick.  The Chiefs began on a short field.  A few plays later, the Chiefs led 7-0 and never looked back.  We were only two yards away from another first down, but Joe Philbin didn’t like that.

Whose fault?  Joe Philbin.
Philbin was winning the field-position game and had all the momentum.

In the upside-down world of Joe Philbin, you don't go for it on 4th-and one.   But when it's 4th-and-five, it's time to try.
In the upside-down world of Joe Philbin, you don’t go for it on 4th-and one. But when it’s 4th-and-five, it’s time to try.

He could have pinned KC back deep or gone for a mere two yards, but instead he tried a risky field goal and gave the Chiefs the ball near the 40.   A poor coaching decision.

9.   Week 14.  Baltimore at Miami.
Baltimore Coach John Harbaugh goes for it on 4th-and-one from his own territory.  He runs a simplistic QB sneak, and the Ravens go on to get the first down, the victory, and make the playoffs. That one play was the beginning of the end of the Dolphins season.

Whose fault?  Kevin Coyle.
Just because Miami never ever runs a QB sneak doesn’t mean other teams aren’t allowed to.  The Ravens used the most basic play in all of sports, and ran it down our throats.  How could no one on Miami see this coming?

8.  Week 17.  New York Jets at Miami.
Joe Philbin faces a 4th-and-two in Jets territory early in the game, and he refuses to go for it.  A little later, the Dolphins face a 4th-and-one in Jets territory, and Philbin again refuses to try.  But then later still, the Dolphins face a 4th-and-five from around midfield, and Philbin does go for it.  Dolphins fail to convert.

Whose fault?  Joe Philbin.
Being incorrect is a bad thing.  Being inconsistent is worse.  No one on the face of this earth can explain why a team will try to gain FIVE yards, but refuse to try to gain ONE yard.   What kind of math is that?

7.  Week 15.  Miami at the New England Patriots.
The Dolphins lined up for a field goal on the opening drive of the game.  The Patriots blocked it and ran it back for a touchdown.

Whose fault?  The referees and the NFL.
The Patriots had a blatant illegal formation on the field for that kick.  By rule, they were required to have 5 men on one side of the ball and six on the other.  Instead, the Patriots had SEVEN men on one side of the ball and only three on the other.

How do the refs miss this?  Why doesn't the NFL allow a coach to toss a challenge and point it out?
How do the refs miss this? Why doesn’t the NFL allow a coach to toss a challenge and point it out?

The 11th man, was directly in front of our center.  Being in front of our center was iffy-illegal.  But seven men on our right side was clear-cut and obvious infraction.  The refs looked the other way.

6.  Week 14.  Baltimore at Miami.
Joe Flacco is sacked for a safety.  But the problem is, the refs blew the call.  They incorrectly assumed that Flacco had gotten out of the end zone. He did not.  See the photo for the obvious obvious proof you will ever find in NFL reviews.

Whose fault?  Joe Philbin.
Philbin refused to challenge, and thus gave away 2 free points and the ball.  Baltimore went on to win because of Philbin’s inability to see what everyone else saw.

Joe Flacco down while the ball is NOT fully over the end line.   Safety for Miami, but only if Joe Philbin alerts the refs.
Joe Flacco down while the ball is NOT fully over the end line. Safety for Miami, but only if Joe Philbin alerts the refs.

Philbin is responsible for his coaches in the video room.  More than once this year, Philbin refused to challenge obvious reversals.

5.  Week 17.  Mike Wallace does not play in the second half vs. the New York Jets.
Joe Philbin benched him, apparently for mouthing off.  Yet earlier in the season, Jared Odrick blasted Philbin on camera and was not benched.  In Week 3, Brian Hartline took a stupid golfing penalty and got yelled at by Philbin.  Hartline openly talked back to Philbin’s face.  Why do some Dolphins get punished for questioning Philbin but not others?  Couldn’t Philbin allow our best player to finish the game and then punish him later?

Whose fault?  Joe Philbin. 
Inconsistent punishment policies hurt the Dolphins when we need Wallace and points.

4.  Week 10.  Dolphins at Detroit Lions.
The Dolphins led by three points late in the game as Detroit began its final drive.  The Dolphins held onto the lead, so all the pressure was on Detroit.  Adding to the pressure was the fact that Detroit had to constantly consider when/if to go for three points to tie it (and force overtime), or to keep trying for a game-winning TD.  But Joe Philbin made it easy for them. Instead of hurrying up the clock and forcing Detroit to lose time, Philbin instead kept calling timeouts.   The extra time meant that Detroit had plenty of time to keep trying for touchdowns.  And they got one.

Whose fault?  Joe Philbin.
Sometimes on the road, going into overtime is not a bad idea.  Let the time run down, and make Detroit kick a tying field goal.   But Philbin didn’t get it.  He kept calling timeouts, which gave Detroit time to get 6 instead.

3.  Week 15.  Miami at New England.
Damien Williams drops one the easiest touchdown passes you’ll ever see.  Incidentally, it was the most perfect ball Ryan Tannehill threw all year.  But Williams blew the catch.

Whose fault?  Damien Williams.
That one drop changed all the momentum in a winnable game and sealed Miami’s playoff chances for good.  There’s a reason why undrafted free agents don’t get drafted, and Damien Williams proved it.

2. Week 6.  Green Bay at Miami.
With just a few minutes left in the game, Miami had the ball and decent field position at its own 35.  Green Bay was using its final timeout.   All Miami needed was one first down, and the game was ours.  OR…even if Miami did not get the first down, as long as they let the clock run, Green Bay wouldn’t have enough time to score.  Bill Lazor knew all of this and prepared to go for the throat and put this game away.  But Joe Philbin over-ruled him.  Two stuffed runs and an incomplete pass, and Green Bay was getting the ball back.  They went on to win a minute later.

Whose Fault?  Joe Philbin.
This was the game where Philbin admitted he felt queasy.  His word, not ours.  He admitted that he ordered Bill Lazor to call certain plays that Lazor did not want to call.  Philbin said during the year that Lazor would have full control of the play-calling, but Philbin’s queasiness revealed his dishonesty.  Philbin made the wrong call and handed Green Bay a free win.

NUMBER ONE.    Week 6.  Green Bay at Miami.
Despite Joe Philbin’s earlier mistake of overruling his offensive coordinator (see Number Two above), the Dolphins were still in a position to win.  The Packers were out of timeouts.  They faced a 4th-and-ten.  Aaron Rodgers had just been sacked, and the Packers were about to lose.  The Packer WRs had to run back from deep downfield.  The Packer offensive linemen were out of breath and gasping, their energy sapped by Cameron Wake and the Florida sun.  Aaron Rodgers looked around, confused.    The Packers were about to get a delay of game penalty, and a 10-second runoff.  Even if they did get the play off, it would be a confused, rushed effort against a Dolphins D with all the momentum in the world.  But then Joe Philbin called a timeout.

Whose fault?  Who else?  Joe Philbin.

Philbin’s timeout stopped the clock.  It stopped the Dolphin momentum.  It allowed the exhausted Packers to rest.  It allowed Rodgers to confer with a real head coach and offensive genius, Mike McCarthy.  It allowed the Packer WRs to take their time.  It ruined the entire Dolphins season.  Why, Joe, why?

Joe Philbin’s two biggest mistakes of the year came a minute apart. Against his friends from Wisconsin. Why wasn’t he fired then and there?

Of the ten plays that ruined our season, seven are the fault of our Head Coach.  Can someone please try to explain why Stephen Ross allowed this guy to stay?  Other coaches might make these inexperienced mistakes once or twice a decade, but Philbin made seven in one year.  And these are just the TOP TEN plays that Philbin blew for us.

There are countless others.

What plays/decisions do you guys feel should be on our list?  I’m sure there are some we forgot.


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  1. I agree with all of these except #10 vs. KC…. Regardless, this is enough to indict Failbin out of a job.

    1. Author

      Well, that Kansas City made the list for a couple of reasons. It was the first time this season where Philbin faced a 4th-and-short inside opponent territory. He had a chance to say “2014 will be different. This is the year when we aggressively go for it on fourth and short. We only need two yards, and we’re going to drive it down their throat and be a better team this season.”
      Instead, he tried a risky field goal and lost the game.
      That refusal to try to pick up 6 feet set a precedent that followed us all season. Philbin refused to try for 4th-and short the past three weeks, and it cost us each time. His strategy is simply wrong. You MUST take a chance now and then in the NFL, especially when you only need a yard or two.

  2. I don’t understand how philbin can possibly stay. It’s not like the fan support is there, almost every dolphin fan I know wants him gone and the attendance at dolphin home games should say it all. But only 1 problem with this list, mike Wallace quit on the team he didn’t get benched. That’s unacceptable from anyone in the NFL let alone one of the highest paid wideouts in the league.

  3. Author

    Zach, I swear, I will change this list once the truth is out about Wallace. But this is still a story in progress. I just watched Wallace’s interview from this morning, and he still says he was benched. He says he did not quit nor asked to remove himself. There are just two different stories going on around here.
    If Wallace turned his back and quit, there is NO WAY that Brandon Gibson and other Dolphins would have stuck up for Wallace yesterday the way they did.
    Something is fishy here.

  4. Exactly- Mike didn’t quit on this team. That nothing but BS propaganda so the staff can get rid of him. They did the same with Brandon Marshall, claiming he was traded after they found out about a bar fight he was in. Turns out, he had nothing to do with the bar fight and was exonerated.

    Want to get rid of a high priced player?? Start saying he quit on the team in order to turn the fans against him. Total BS. This staff is a bunch of liars.

  5. Yea I hear ya I just saw the espn article I jumped to a conclusion based on the Miami heralds reports lol that’s why I always check here first

  6. out of our 8 wins, we coulda easily lost 5 of them. We barely got past and beat Buffalo and the Jets. Our offense failed in Jacksonville (defense bailed us out with TWO touchdowns). We beat New England only because the season was young and NE wasn’t in stride yet. We only beat Chicago and Oakland because they are miserably bad teams. And we got lucky against the Vikes because they long snapper blew the game and caused a bad punt at the end.
    We should be 3-13 and getting the top draft pick, but Philbin can’t even do that right.

  7. >The Green Bay timeout had me screaming in the sports bar here about the size of Philbin’s brain.
    >NOT going for it versus the jets twice was inexcusable…its week 17, nothing but pride of beating your rival on the line, you take some chances and be bold….but nooo.
    >IMHO, the entire staff should have been cleaned out after last season. The ONLY, and I am stretching a bit here but the ONLY possible ‘benefit’ of Ross keeping Philbin is that it makes 2015 a do-or-else season for all three… Hickey, Philbin and Tannehill. If 2015 goes kaput, then all three should be replaced.
    Now, a logical owner would have made the HC move when he fired the GM, but Ross has shown that his real estate saavy does not necessarily transfer into pro sports ownership success.

    The past few seasons have made me realize many of us Dolfans may have been too rough on Wayne Huizenga. He DID CARE, he tried everything, didn’t always work, but he did get JJ to replace Shula, then got Saban, then got Parcells….he gets plenty of points for repeatedly TRYING to fix things. Ross seems to lack the same desire and drive for success in pro sports, at the very least his actions give off that vibe.

    Very sad not to have football for the Fins until September 6, 2015…but it is what it is, folks.


  8. Author

    AJ Duhe was great! Why you calling him a goat?

  9. Great list with a lot of good points. My two thoughts:
    1. I personally cannot hold Philbin at fault for #10, in a close game and the ball on the KC 30, he made the correct call in trying for the FG, that one is on the K not the HC. Had Philibin elected to gamble and the offense not succeed it would have been a huge momentum shift for the Chiefs and we would be all over Philibin for not trusting his kicker.
    2. One thing that people seem to forget in the Det loss was that Clay dropped a TD at the end of the Dolphins final drive that ended with a FG. If you go back and watch the tape Tannehill threw a nice pass and Clay simply couldn’t hang on when he was hit. The result, Miami kick a FG instead of getting the TD. I am not justifying Philibin’s poor use of TO’s on the ensuing Lions drive but had Clay caught the ball this wouldn’t even be a discussion.

    1. John,
      I think in the Baltimore game, Clay caught the ball at around the 10 and was moving toward the endzone. He came up a little short and stepped out at the four. This set up first and goal.
      The Dolphins came over to him celebrating the catch, as if getting to the 4 yard line was the same as getting To the endzone. Every Dolphin out there was overly happy. I swear, they forgot they still had four more yards to go. Sure enough, three plays later and we were kicking a field goal.
      I blame Philbin for this. Philbin has ZERO attack mode. He did nothing to calm his men down ( he shouldn’t have to, but i’m just sayin) and get them ready to score a TD.
      I don’t think clay tried hard enough to get into the endzone. And after he didnt score, you could tell the Dolphins were like ‘” no big deal. We’re close enough to get a td now. Nope. Terrible coaching.

  10. Author

    John, in theory, you are right about the KC game, and a 48-yard FG is certainly makeable. But like we said, it was early in the game and early in the season. Joe Philbin had an opportunity to tell his men that you WILL go out there and you WILL get two lousy yards.
    If they fail, then that is clearly the players’ fault. I think they’d remember that failure and come out for revenge later. I wouldn’t blame Philbin for going for it and trying to instill some toughness into them.
    Also, the fact that Sturgis simply is not a good kicker needs to be inside Philbin’s head. You can’t count on 3 automatic points when Sturgis lines up, yet Philbin always does.
    Being a bad kicker is not Philbin’s fault.
    But relying upon a bad kicker IS Philbin’s fault.

    1. Author

      Also, John, in the Lions game, you are right about Clay’s drop. There were so many similar plays during the year that I lost count. We start off with a first-and-goal. On first down we run for no gain. Second down we take a sack. Third down, now desperate, we throw an incompletion. Field goal. Another promising first-and-goal down the drain. It happened way too often.

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