Dolphins' Philbin deals with grief, new job

Fans show their support for Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, whose son drowned...

Fans show their support for Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, whose son drowned on Jan. 8. The Miami Dolphins hired Philbin as their head coach this past week. (REUTERS)

Ken Fidlin, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 5:09 PM ET

There couldn’t possibly have been anything easy about Joe Philbin’s decision. Fresh from the tragedy of his 21-year-old son’s death two weeks ago, Philbin could have retreated back into the sanctuary of the Green Bay Packers family that has mourned with him.

Instead, Philbin, the Packers’ offensive coordinator, forged ahead with interviews for head coaching jobs with the Dolphins and Buccaneers. He quickly settled on Miami, where he will try to rebuild the Dolphins at the same time he deals with the aftermath of every parent’s greatest nightmare, the death of a child.

Michael Philbin, 21, drowned early on Sunday morning, Jan. 8, after a night out with friends in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Foul play is not suspected.

His father had had his first interview with the Dolphins on Jan. 7, and when Miami’s first choice, Jeff Fisher, turned them down to go to St. Louis, they made an offer to Philbin.

This is Philbin’s first head coaching job in the NFL but the 50-year-old has coached for 28 years, 19 in college, and the last five as Green Bay’s OC. The Packers have ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in each of those five seasons, winning the Super Bowl a year ago.

The Dolphins are something else again. A year ago, they appeared to have been on the upswing but stumbled again this year to a 6-10 record. While folks have been quick to jump on the fact that Philbin might give the Dolphins a leg up in trying to sign pending free agent QB Matt Flynn, Aaron Rodgers’ backup, who had a record-setting day in his only start for the Packers this year, Matt Moore, the Dolphins’ QB, is showing signs of promise.

Despite the fact the Dolphins were 22nd in total offence and 23rd in passing offence, Moore finished the season with a decent 87.1 QB rating, better than big names like Jay Cutler, Michael Vick, Cam Newton and Mark Sanchez.

On defence, the Dolphins are merely average but at least they finished in the top half of the league in that department.

For the Dolphins and for Philbin, this is a gamble. From the team’s standpoint, they have hired another guy without a head coaching track record. In the throes of such an emotional time in his life, you have to wonder if Philbin might be biting off more than he can chew. For what it’s worth, he has the full support of many of the players he has coached.

Pity he can’t take them all with him.

THE UNWRITTEN RULE

There is a lot of internet babble about what a travesty it would be if the Colts tagged Jim Tressell as their next head coach. Owner Jim Irsay hired Tressell late this past season as a consultant and has reportedly interviewed him for the head coach’s job, which came open last week when Irsay cleaned house, dismissing Jim Caldwell and eight assistants.

Tressell had to resign from the Buckeyes last year after he fibbed to NCAA investigators about some of his players trading football memorabilia for tattoos. From this vantage point, the only one of the ridiculous NCAA rules that Tressell broke was the one that states “don’t get caught.” There may, indeed, be valid reasons why Irsay might take a pass on Tressell but that’s not one of them. Irsay said Saturday he would make an announcement “mid to late next week.”

REX TO RUN SILENT?

Is it possible? Have we heard the last of Ryan’s roars?

Jets coach Rex Ryan admitted on New York’s WFAN radio on Friday that it might be time to tone down his own rhetoric.

He was speaking specifically about his bold statement last February that the Jets would win the Super Bowl this year. He now feels that this may have put too much pressure on his players.

“My thing about, ‘I’ll guarantee that we get it done this year,’ I thought the bull’s-eye was going on my back, and that’s fine,” Ryan said. “I was trying to put pressure on myself. So that’s something that obviously I have to learn from.

“I’ve got to look at the entire dynamic of what I say and how it doesn’t just affect me.”

Ryan’s comments came in the same week that RB LaDainian Tomlinson said the atmosphere in the Jets’ locker room this year was the worst he had ever seen.

Ryan acknowledged that QB Mark Sanchez and receiver Santonio Holmes were at odds.

“I think it was an isolated incident,” Ryan said. “I don’t think it was pervasive throughout the locker room. It’s not everybody in the locker room. We certainly had a couple of guys, and it had a huge negative impact on our football team, so there’s no question about that.”

 


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