Miami Dolphins: Joe Philbin Must Learn from Mistake of Benching Reggie Bush

Erik FrenzSenior Writer INovember 13, 2012

Nov 11, 2012; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Sun Life Stadium. The Titans defeated the Dolphins 37-3. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIRE

Rookies make mistakes. That goes for players and coaches. The important thing, for rookie players and coaches alike, is to learn from those mistakes.

Miami Dolphins rookie head coach Joe Philbin made a mistake in benching veteran running back Reggie Bush following his third fumble of the season.

It's a mistake he should not make again. Not only could it drastically impact their ability to win, but it could also have a negative effect on team morale (and thus, their ability to win).

Why did he do it in the first place? It's all a part of a philosophy Philbin follows that our forefathers established in the Constitution: All men are created equal (except one).

"I think Pat Devlin is a teacher's pet," Philbin said, "but other than Pat, everybody else is [treated] the same."

There's a reason that's part of the United States Constitution and not a part of NFL rule books. Former-Patriots-safety-turned-NBC-analyst Rodney Harrison explained why on The Big O Show on AM 640 in Miami:

...for the life of me, a guy that plays that hard, that puts it on the line for you each and every week, for you to make a statement and take him out of the game, if I'm a guy in the locker room, I'm looking at him like, 'Coach, you've got to be the biggest idiot in the country, to do something like that.' He's a leader, he works hard. He's 205 or 210 pounds, and he goes through that hole like he's 240 pounds.

...I was very disturbed by that, because you can make a statement on a stupid penalty like Incognito had, but you don't make a statement to Reggie Bush, who plays his butt off each and every week. That's when you start losing the locker room.

Bush has only resided in South Beach for a little over a year and a half, but he has already become one of the team's strongest leaders. It was Bush who was shown on Hard Knocks calling a meeting with Philbin following the sudden release of wide receiver Chad Johnson. During the meeting, Bush called for the assembly of a leadership council.

"If there's a guy that's in trouble, we feel like we can do something for him, help him out or set some primers and guidelines for him before you guys make a decision," Bush said on the summer series.

It goes well beyond his status as a leader of the locker room, however.

Bush had a history of fumbles leading up to the move to Miami, but Bush is on pace to fumble fewer than 2.1 percent of his touches in back-to-back years for the first time in his career.

To be fair, Bush has fumbled two times in the past three games. Sending a message by putting him on the bench for a few plays or a series is one thing, but to take him out for more than 30 minutes of the game (pulled at 8:46 in the first quarter, put back in at 5:36 in the third quarter) is baffling, especially when we're talking about undeniably the Dolphins' most explosive playmaker on offense.

Equal treatment would (almost) be a fair point to make, but the fact is, Philbin isn't treating players equally, whether he means to or not.

If he were, he probably would have benched quarterback Ryan Tannehill for any one of his three interceptions on Sunday, two of which induced some severe head-scratching.

The first was a batted pass, but the other two were thrown to covered receivers.

Bush's fumble, however, passes the smell test much better than any of those brain farts.

He kept both hands on the ball and simply coughed it up when struck at the most inopportune time and in the most inopportune place—right on the tip of the football.

Tom Brady doesn't get benched when he throws two, three or even four picks in a game. If the Vikings benched Adrian Peterson every time he fumbled the ball, we may not be talking about him as the potential Comeback Player of the Year.

Broncos running back Willis McGahee plays a less important role than Bush, but he hasn't been benched despite five fumbles, two more than Bush this season. Heck, BenJarvus Green-Ellis was brought in by Cincinnati explicitly because he had never fumbled. Three fumbles later, they have yet to bench him or reduce his role.

The list of examples like this goes on and on.

Bush has already owned up to his mistake. Now it's time for Joe Philbin to own up to his, but more importantly, to learn from it.


Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained via team press releases.