Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
The Miami Dolphins are starting over in 2012. They have a new head coach (Joe Philbin), a new offensive coordinator (Mike Sherman), a new defensive coordinator (Kevin Coyle) and a rookie quarterback in Ryan Tannehill that the team hopes can be the face of the franchise.
For Philbin, this marks his first experience as a head coach at any level. And it will be a tough first test.
Quarterback David Garrard was reportedly the leader for the starting quarterback job before undergoing a knee scope on Aug. 11. Now, it appears that Tannehill, who has impressed in his first two preseason games, has the edge over Matt Moore for starting duties.
If Tannehill were to win the quarterback battle, it would be an exciting storyline for Fins fans. At the same time, plugging in a rookie signal-caller involves a learning curve, especially going up against Bill Belichick twice a year.
Philbin also had to deal with the whole Chad Johnson fiasco recently. The controversial veteran wide receiver was in a prime position to headline Miami’s receiving corps; instead, he headlined the media for his domestic battery arrest.
The head coach subsequently released Johnson, which actually sparked some tension between Philbin and the players. According to Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald, linebacker Karlos Dansby and cornerback Sean Smith were both unhappy with the decision to let Johnson go.
Both the Dolphins and Philbin hope the distraction blows over soon, but either way, it wasn’t a great storyline for the team heading into the regular season.
The more important progress to monitor, though, is how quickly Philbin and his new staff can form an identity in Miami. Establishing some success in the AFC East will be tough this year, so making tangible strides will be a focal point.
The receiving corps was a weak link even before Johnson’s release. Now the position is even thinner, which will make it even tougher on whoever is passing the ball.
It’s obviously impossible to judge Philbin at this point (having not coached in a regular season game), but there’s no doubt he has a tall task ahead of him in 2012.