Joe Philbin Gives Miami Dolphins Fans Reason to Smile

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Joe Philbin Gives Miami Dolphins Fans Reason to Smile
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You can't determine with any degree of certainty how any new head coach is going to do once he is hired or after he gives an introductory press conference.

Most coaches will tell you that they have a plan that will result in the team having success.

I haven't heard one coach take a job and profess how terrible the team will be, and I suspect I never will.

But that doesn't mean you can ignore the vibe that certain individuals give in how they present themselves.

I just finished watching the Miami Dolphins' new head coach, Joe Philbin, conduct his introductory press conference, and for the first time in awhile, pardon Fins fans if they crack a smile tonight.

Philbin was clear, concise and confident in his presentation. There wasn't a question that threw him or a single doubt about his commitment to the Dolphins franchise.

Here are the specific details from his press conference, which should encourage Dolphins fans even though the real measure of his success admittedly will come when the team starts play again several months from now.

1. Philbin is a fundamentalist. To paraphrase: He believes in the fundamentals of tackling, running routes and blocking more than what scheme a team chooses to run. This is not the first coach I have heard to take this point of view, a belief that I have come to embrace in my own coaching career.

The first individual who stressed "fundamentals first" to me was an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that I interviewed some years of ago. Maybe you have heard of him. His name is Mike Tomlin, current head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers and a Super Bowl Champion.

2. Philbin wanted this job. Whether it's his proclamation of the Dolphins as one of the premier franchises in sports or the encouragement from his son, Tim, to go after the job, even in the wake of the death of one his other sons, Michael, or Philbin's astute perception that at 50 years old, this is his one precious shot to be an NFL head coach, you can tell that this is a man who pursued the Dolphins.

That last part is especially refreshing after the Dolphins have clearly been the ones doing the pursuing in the past with the hiring of coaches such as Jimmy Johnson and Nick Saban or through failed attempts at bringing Jim Harbaugh or Jeff Fisher aboard.

3. Jeff Ireland, the Dolphins general manager, was quite clear at the end of the news conference about who would be picking the rest of the coaching staff, and that will be Joe Philbin.

That's how it should be, and it eases the concerns from some that Philbin will be merely a yes man for the front office. Philbin needs to be able to pick men who will lead with similar visions to the ones that he holds.

I also believe personnel decisions, while ultimately in the hands of Ireland, will be more of a mutual process than it might have been with other candidates.

That belief stems from Philbin's clear preference for men with integrity and who are committed to team goals rather than for individual ones. He made this point distinctly, and it shouldn't be dismissed as simple rhetoric from a man who chooses his words carefully and delivers them with conviction.

Again, whether or not Philbin is a success with the Miami Dolphins won't be determined until the team starts playing again. It will depend on many factors, some of which are not even under Philbin's control.

But for the moment at least, Dolphins fans have a clear vibe about the future, and it's a good one.

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