Is Philbin’s job too big for him?

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For high-level executives whose subordinates engage in misconduct, the most common defense is to claim a lack of knowledge, even if the persistent claims of “I didn’t know” make the executive look like Quincy Magoo.

After all, it’s better to be perceived as Mr. Magoo than Richard Nixon.

For Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, it actually could be just as bad to be:  (1) in charge of a pro football team; and (2) so clueless as to the relationships as to be completely unaware of multiple incidents of harassment that caused one specific member of the team to have an extreme reaction that has created an unprecedented disruption and distraction for the entire organization.

Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald believes that the report written by Ted Wells shows that the head-coaching job is too big for Philbin.  Salguero may be right.

Wells’ report emphasizes that Philbin “was not aware of the mistreatment of” Jonathan Martin, the unnamed player who was harassed repeatedly, or an assistant training.  Wells’ report speculates that, if Philbin had known about the conduct, he would have intervened promptly.  That conclusion comes from the policies implemented by the team, the statements made to the players by Phibin, and the concern Philbin demonstrated once Martin abruptly left the team.

But it’s easy to stand up and say a bunch of perfunctory things, and it’s natural to be concerned once the situation hits the fan and the shrapnel could threaten the coach’s job security.  During day-in-and-day-out interactions, Philbin wasn’t capable of getting the players to respect his wishes or to ensure that his assistant coaches were properly monitoring the players and, in the case of offensive line coach Jim Turner, not participating in some of the behavior.

In the law, there’s a theory known as res ipsa loquitur.  Latin for “the thing itself speaks,” the phrase means that a given outcome couldn’t have occurred without someone acting improperly, like when a medical instrument is left in a patient during surgery.  Or when a giant ball of oil falls out of a window.

Here, the sudden departure of Martin from the Dolphins doesn’t happen unless multiple things went very wrong — things for which the head coach ultimately is responsible.

Philbin is the head coach of an NFL team, one of the 32 most coveted and powerful jobs in all of football.  And football coaches are notoriously obsessive about knowing everything there is to know about their teams.  If Philbin didn’t know what was happened under his nose, then Salguero may be right.  The job of an NFL head coach may be too big for Philbin.

Owner Stephen Ross seems to still be committed to Philbin.  The statement issued Friday night after Ross digested the report mentions Philbin three times, pointing out the report’s commendation of Philbin’s “commitment to promoting integrity and accountability.”

But while Philbin had the commitment, he lacked the juice to make it work.  When it comes to the head coach of an NFL team, that could be every bit as bad as knowing what was happened.

85 responses to “Is Philbin’s job too big for him?

  1. I liked Philbin. But after the way he handled this fisasco, he needs to be fired. At least own up and start firing your staff that participated in the bullying.

  2. If Philbin didn’t know what was happened under his nose, then Salguero may be right.

    every bit as bad as knowing what was happened…

    I hope English is your second language…

  3. Any Dolphins fan could have told you this when the Miami coaching staff refused to adjust their predictable “go-go” snap-count that they were too stubborn to change.

    This is pathetic. It really took a 144-page report for Stephen Ross to open his eyes. This of course has to come with him admitting he is wrong, about Philbin in this instance, which he rarely does.

  4. Or even worse, looking like Bill Clinton.

    Seriously, this is all about a 300 lb NFL player who admits he was “bullied” (which in latin means “actions of a male bovine”) and quit his team because his boyz called him names via text.

    If Philbin had been unaware of a homicidal player involved in obvious gang related activity, then there would be possible reason for concern.

  5. I’m inclined to give Philbin the benefit of the doubt. I’d be more concerned that it happened at all under his watch than whether he lacked oversight of his players. That’s the first step of the failure.

    But I think it’s fair to every young head coach to get a chance when things reflect poorly on them but are not necessarily there fault. I’d put this one on Jim Turner, who has an oversight of what at most 8 or 9 guys during the regular season? And say to Philbin it’s a warning against his record but that’s about it.

    To be honest I see this type of article as a bit petty and probably contradictory to articles you’d run after Kubiak and Fox had health scares talking about how taxing an NFL head coaching job is. I don’t like how quick we are to spread blame in Western society instead of focusing on the really bad apples.

  6. I seriously doubt they behaved that way when Philbin was around. Martin never told him and it’s obvious that nobody else did either. The dolphins have lacked strong player leaders for a very long time. Taylor was one of the few.

    The behavior (including Martin) was unacceptable under normal circumstances. There isn’t really a single line. The key for harassment is the behavior must be unwanted and that changes from person to person. Martin should have said something but he didn’t. That, and his own participation in the same behavior told Incognito and others that the proverbial line had not been crossed. The sudden change perceived by the players will naturally cause confusion and the feelings of betrayal that we can all plainly see. What these guys did was wrong. Martin should have stopped it himself or informed the head coach a looooong time ago. The problem would have been solved, nobody would feel betrayed, no careers would have been impacted, no negative effects on the team would have occurred, and no media fiasco would have ever happened.

  7. Saguaro has disliked Philbin since he was hired. He has made some valid points in the past but his agenda has been clear for a long time and this site has only furthered his cause. Saguaro has a nasty habit of “reporting” his speculation as fact and has been incorrect way too often to be viewed as credible.

  8. How about this, a lot of the over the top things Cogs said were texts, voice mails or away from the complex. What people saw around the locker room sounds hardly different than what most have seen around most locker rooms. So the only reason the coach would get involved is if the player comes to him with how he’s feeling, that never happened.
    Although at times they act like 3rd graders they are actually grown men, Martin is responsible for himself and either putting a stop to it or letting his bosses know, that’s what grown ups do! I read every page of the report, Found some of funny and some a little over the top, either way, Martin could have handled it by standing up to it, not be a part of it, tell him to stop or tell your boss, not wanting to be a snitch sounds stupid compared to what he actually turned this into. No doubt Philbin could have ended this early on or Cogs would have been gone..
    There’s a place in the world for Mr Martin, just not a place where he would have to take responsibility for himself!

  9. I hate to say it but you may have a point, Mike. Could things be any worse for my beloved franchise right now? I’m sure Pouncey will be suspended and they’ll have to replace all five positions on the line…

  10. I mentioned he and any coach on staff should be sent down the road earlier today. Nothing that has transpired has changed my mind. Ross MUST realize that his actions on this mess will send out a clear message to the public, The ‘Fins and to any prospective player or executive who might be thinking about joining his team in the near or distant future. Sack them Mr. Ross. There is NO explanation that will be acceptable in anyone’s mind but your own if you keep this crew.

  11. I agree with the article. The head coach needs to be evaluated in light of the report. I would also look to the raw footage of HBO HARD KNOCKS. If the NFL has footage of the incidents I am sure they would have cooperated with the investigation.?

  12. That’s exactly what I was thinking. Either Philbin endorsed this behavior, looked the other way Paterno-style, or was completely clueless to what was going on IN HIS HOUSE.

    In any of these situations, Philbin looks like an idiot.

  13. Strict liability and respondeat superior are more analogous than res ipsa. Fault in this case ends up at the top of the ladder, no matter who actually committed the improper acts.

    Res ipsa is just an alternate way to establish negligence.

  14. why not insert Obama instead of Nixon, Mike…most readers would understand that reference…your average reader doesn’t even know who Nixon was

  15. Is Philbin supposed to monitor all his players texts and follow them to dinner every night? Fact is those two were friends and the dumb things Incognito said were not with malice. No issue here if the O-line coach loses his job but Philbin isn’t leaving just yet.

  16. Or could it be that they only participated in this childish behavior behind the teacher’s back? Think about it. If Philbin ever knew about any of this crap, don’t you think Martin would of told on him as well?

  17. my understanding is the coaching staff doesn’t spend a lot of time in the locker room, nor do they read players text messages that are sent back and forth…these are grown men, how do you solve a problem that you don’t know about? this was an unfortunate situation that happened, but why does someone have to be labeled as the bad guy?? I don’t have a problem with Richie or Joe…I’m sorry for what happened to Jonathan, he needed help and apparently got it…case closed, life now goes on

  18. How can anyone have confidence that he can lead a winning organization, when he knew so little about his team? Miami needs a complete renovation, beginning with the owner and working down.

  19. The answer is yes, but as we play this frustrating game of “Groundhog’s Day,” once again the only one who does not realize this is Stephen Ross.

  20. Armando also recently wrote a piece calling Martin out as a liar and condemning his weak act. You in the media give Philbin no way to win.

    Too bad the media isn’t held accountable for all the wild speculation they publish, because obviously with them, facts aren’t a requirement.

    Here is a question: Evidence shows that Martin has participated in all of the “abuse” he accuses Incognito of, yet he is still the victim. Including the get up from the table gag, that was so traumatic that he had to leave the team. Or the picture of him with the big grin on his face with a stripper over each shoulder. What is Wells conclusion on that? Maybe we should ask our $44 million dollar commisoner?

    Money grab from the get-go.

  21. what manager could properly handle a work place harassment claim .. if no complaint is ever made? Until when?.. The complainer implicates the manager for non action?

  22. He’s a football coach, not a babysitter. Philbin can’t be held responsible for Martin being too gutless to even privately confide to him there was any problem. Martin texted his parents a bunch and proceeded to abruptly quit and fled like the pathetic, sniveling coward that he is. This is the NFL, not a psychiatrist’s sofa.

  23. Well there you have it, a coach that has the concept but doesn’t have a clue how to get people to execute the actions. Sounds like the Dolphins season.

    Ross is clueless. This will be a never ending saga if he doesn’t clean house. I’m beginning to feel sorry for Dolphins fans…. Oh wait… Nevermind…

  24. After reading the report, I’m inclined to believe Philbin didn’t know what was going on. But I also agree that he needs to be held accountable for his ignorance.

    Philbin deserves a good chunk of the blame for how things got so far out of hand. It was more than Incognito, Pouncy and Jerry. There were coaches (Turner) and other staff doing truly awful things that people obviously didn’t like. Philbin is ultimately responsible for all of it, and ignorance is no excuse.

    Any other executive would he held accountable for being so far out of touch.

  25. Love the Nixon reference.

    We’re not forgetting your party’s sexual predator, Bill Clinton.

    And his wife, who would be president, blamed republicans for news of the affair. Lovely.

  26. Yeah…. nothing says “too big for Philbin” more than watching Philbin improve his team’s record after getting rid of his four best players (reggie bush, karlos dansby, jake long, and vonte davis), start a rookie quarterback with a crappy O-Line, improve after a bullying scandal, watch their free agent tight end go down in the pre-season, and visit Jonathan Martin in the hospital during the drama.

    The Miami Dolphins are improving.

  27. Or maybe the players were instructed to go to ireland??? This is a mute point yet another useless article written by armando slappylips

  28. Another disappointing year on the horizon for my dolphins. I have been a fan since the beginning of the team and am sick of how Ross has allowed this to happen due to his stupidity as an owner. Clean house of the coaching staff and SELL the team!

  29. lynnko says: Feb 15, 2014 12:56 AM

    “my understanding is the coaching staff doesn’t spend a lot of time in the locker room, nor do they read players text messages that are sent back and forth…these are grown men, how do you solve a problem that you don’t know about?”

    After Martin’s first meltdown in the summer when he came to work drunk, Philbin talked with Martin’s parents, he visited personally with Martin in the and he never once asked what this was about, if any Dolphins staff or players contributed to this problem, if there was anything Philbin could other than have the 82 year-old in-house psychiatrist write him a script for Lexapro and wash his hands of it.

    Even after Martin was hospitalized, Philbin never asked if there was something Philbin had control over that he could change to help alleviate Martin’s problems. Philbin didn’t know in part because Philbin doesn’t even know enough to ask.

    Philbin was clueless about rampant harassment,

    Clueless about Martin and Incognito,

    clueless about rampant drug use,

    Clueless that Martin missed workouts then came to work drunk,

    Clueless about his coach’s participation in harassment,

    Clueless that Mike Sherman was disaster who hasn’t learned a thing since 1997 in green bay,

    Clueless that it might be unwise to hire a QB coach who literally his only bona fides and experience are he dates Mike Sherman’s daughter,

    Clueless that Turner isn’t even a good OL coach after the team sets records for sacks and had over 50% of their run plays stuffed for a loss against two games against buffalo,

    Clueless about the desirability and effectiveness of telling the media that you will be quick to pull your young franchise QB after he showed remarkable improvement this year and production while throwing for 24 tds and approximately 4000 yards behind the worst offensive line by miles,

    Clueless that HC’s have more important things to do than picking up bits of paper on the field.

    When the man is clueless about everything else, it’s a stretch to assume that he was clueless about this because he just wasn’t in the lockeroom enough and that this somehow absolves him of responsibility.

    Even Ireland the GM managed to find out Incognito needed a good pop in the mouth.
    How the heck is Philbin so adept at being clueless and incompetent and continue to avoid responsibility for his shortcomings. How does Turner get fired but not the guy who continues to vouchsafe for his failings both as human beings and his awful OL production?

  30. I am a G.M. at my job and I am held accountable with everything that happens within my bounds. Even when I am on vacation and one time I was out for six weeks due to medical and I was still responsible for everything. It is implicit that I keep my eye on everyone and listen to the “whispers” of conversations as I walk by my employees. I talk with everyone in general everyday and ask work related questions just to get a feel and to help me know what is going on behind my back. I feel I have a good grasp on things but it is impossible to know everything all of the time but anything major going on I find out pretty quick!! I also have an open door policy where they can confide in me and talk with me about anything personal or work related. My door opens a lot!! lol but I know they feel comfortable talking with me and I find out many things this way!!! Philbin is obviously out of touch with his players and coaches if he does not know what is happening in his locker room!! Should he be fired? That’s up to Mr. Ross but at the very least he needs to address Coach Philbin and let him know that ignorance is no excuse!!

  31. Philbin has did nothing but win more games than the previous year. So again how is his job too big for him?

  32. I am still looking for one positive article about the Dolphins on this site, just one. The job is not too big for Philbin. He had a player that went to the media to air out the teams dirty laundry. I am sure if you peel back all 32 teams many of you will conclude there are several coaches where the job is “too big” for them. Many wanted to bury Philbin once the story leaked and the Fins went on to win games. That didnt work so the media concentrated on the Fins losing the final two games. Now since the official report has been released the job is too big. Give me a break!! The job would not have been too big had the Fins made the playoffs last year. This is nothing more than a witch hunt. I just hope Stephen Ross stays the course and not let the media run his team. He believes in Philbin enough not to give hire/fire responsibility to the GM. I applaud his loyalty and think he should stick to it.

  33. It is interesting; I heard Jim Miller on Sirius yesterday, clearly not a Martin fan. But he did give an anecdote how when he played on the Steelers they had an assistant trainer who is a woman. The Steelers have never been sissies, Smash Mouth Football describes them. A tough team. No one harassed that trainer. Ever. The head trainer and Cowher and the whole organization made it clear that people were treated with respect, or you were not a Steeler.
    Unfortunately, a team built by Jeff “is your mother still a prostitue” Ireland does not operate that way.
    Sad for the Dolphins,

  34. Philben must go! They have to clean Davie like a cruise ship with a virus! It will not happen with the most ignorant and clueless owner in all of sports! Huizenga please buy the Dolphins back!!!

  35. So according to the (poorly written) Article. Philbin is “damned if he knew and damned if he didn’t”. Sure makes sense.

    As for the Dolphins Haters, this could have happened to ANY Team. Philbin is a decent Coach so far showed improvement and let me remind all of you the Dolphins beat EVERY AFC Team in the Playoff this year that was on their Schedule and including the Seahawks the year before. Looks like progress to me.

  36. flannlv says:
    Feb 15, 2014 12:36 AM
    I agree with the article. The head coach needs to be evaluated in light of the report.
    The report says he wasn’t aware of a problem until after Martin left. Once he learned of the problems, he acted flawlessly. The only knock on Philbin here is the speculation that he should have known. None of this stuff happened in front of him and nobody said anything–even when he asked in meetings. What was he supposed to do? Sneak around, mic the locker room or hold individual personal counseling sessions with each player just in case there was something wrong and they haven’t come forward yet?

    Some of the criticism of Philbin’s coaching/game planning/game strategy is warranted but the criticism in this situation is completely unwarranted.

  37. For all those characterizing Philbin as some sort of bumbling idiot or inept coach because he didn’t know what was going on… If you are a parent, has your child ever done something stupid or reprehensible that you were not immediately aware of? If so, by the same logic used by some in this comments section, that makes you an incompetent/bad parent. Doesn’t that sound a bit presumptuous or ridiculous?

    The only way the coach could have known is if the behavior happened in his presence or somebody aware of the situation brought it to his attention. Neither happened in this case.

  38. was the pats job too big for bill b. while he was employing a murderer? or how about the saints job being too big for sean payton when his team was being paid to take players heads off, or maybe the job was too big when the ravens allowed ray lewis to stay with a team after murder alligations, was it too big for jimmy johnson when the cowboys locker room was all doing coke and whatever else they were allowed to get away with…….wonder why those jobs were not too big for them.

  39. Read the report, its clear most of you did not.

    Not once did Martin tell anyone in position to do anything about his problems. The team thought he was depressed and addressed that.

    Again read the report so you dont look stupid hear calling for someones job.

    Why are people pretending soft players should thrive in other nfl locker rooms? Its the last trait you want anyone to have,especially in the trenches. Martin had these issues going back to highschool, and kept them to himself.The only people he told were incognito and his mom, and way after this stuff blew up.

  40. lynnko says: Feb 15, 2014 12:39 AM

    “why not insert Obama instead of Nixon, Mike…most readers would understand that reference…your average reader doesn’t even know who Nixon was”

    That’s a horrible insult to Philbin, true but insulting comparison non the less. I can’t think of a head coach in the NFL that would like to be compared to Obama. At least Nixon had the good sense to resign.

  41. fritz1218 says:
    Feb 15, 2014 11:56 AM
    lynnko says: Feb 15, 2014 12:39 AM

    “why not insert Obama instead of Nixon, Mike…most readers would understand that reference…your average reader doesn’t even know who Nixon was”

    That’s a horrible insult to Philbin, true but insulting comparison non the less. I can’t think of a head coach in the NFL that would like to be compared to Obama. At least Nixon had the good sense to resign.
    Nixon is viewed as a bad guy for one reason–he got caught covering up a scandal. Correction: He got caught at a time when most people/Congress actually cared enough to do something about it…those times are gone

  42. “It’s obvious that Philbin was in over his head when he criminally underused Lamar Miller in favor of Daniel Thomas.”

    um…. they were both putrid and had plenty of shots at it. bush got yards behind same bad oline.

  43. “This is the NFL, not a psychiatrist’s sofa.”

    he didnt even tell his shrink what was going on. its in the report

  44. cornersss says:
    “It’s obvious that Philbin was in over his head when he criminally underused Lamar Miller in favor of Daniel Thomas.”

    um…. they were both putrid and had plenty of shots at it. bush got yards behind same bad oline.

    um…. it was not the same bad o line, he had long, pouncy, incognito martin and jerry all season to run behind, these guys were working with martin at lt and for half of the season filled it with practice squad and old players out of thier prime. might want to do a little research first.

  45. To the author: Instead of “After all, it’s better to be perceived as Mr. Magoo than Richard Nixon.” If you really wanted to draw a proper analogy you should have said. After all, it’s better to be perceived as Mr. Magoo than B Obama. After all our current POTUS is a proven liar many time over.

  46. This is a sad situation. There is blame to be spread all over the place. Obviously Incognito and the players doing the harrassing get a large part of it. The HC owns the locker room whether they pay attention to it or not, so Philbin needs to take his part.

    In an adult world though, I can not help but hand a smidgen of blame to Martin as well. There is a very good chance the HC would have stopped this if Martin had said something to him. I mean the report itself says Philbin attemped to help Martin with his depression at one point. How hard would it have been to say something to the man?

    One thing I am sure of is that there was very little adult supervision involved here. Maybe NFL teams need to give a class on how to handle situations in an adult world and mix it with a bit of sensitivity training. I’ve never worked anywhere that ever needed such a thing but maybe the NFL is different.

  47. This isn’t “media speculation”. They interviewed over 100 people including all of the Dolphins players. Some people were interviewed multiple times.

    The report goes into details beyond Incognito, Pouncey and Jerry bullying and harassing Martin. Here’s three more guys that should never work in the NFL again:

    Jim Turner
    Kevin O’Neill
    Chris Mosley

    Miami needs a housecleaning of epic proportion.

    In addition to Martin, multiple other players and the assistant trainer had to endure things that no one should have to tolerate at work (or anywhere).

  48. For you who put some blame on Martin, do you also blame the trainer? How about the woman at the Dolphins golf outing. Maybe the other lineman.

  49. Where’s the criticism for Belichick for not knowing his player was a murdering gangster?

    Where’s the hit piece for Mike McCarthy for not knowing Jolly had an addiction?

    How about the falcons front office for not knowing Vick had a dog murdering ring?

    So Head Coaches are expected to spy on their player’s lives 24/7 now?

    Hey, guys who have a stressful job running a football team, here’s another time consuming thing that we need you to do.

  50. Talk about Martin being sick, how about most of these post, don’t you think we have a bunch of no nothings and sick people full of hate on this blog, I also think a lot of the black head coaches would be with Obama then Nixon. Bill

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