Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano may be the most obvious candidate to be fired in the upcoming NFL offseason, but after the Miami Dolphins were defeated for the Buccaneers’ first win of the season on Monday night, coach Joe Philbin may also be rising as a candidate to be fired.
Even after losing to the previously winless Buccaneers, the Dolphins are still in the AFC playoff hunt, tied with four other teams at 4-5 who are just one game back from the New York Jets in a still-wide-open race for the second AFC wild card spot. Philbin’s problems in Miami, however, may have more to do with off-field problems than on it.
The Dolphins are currently embroiled in a locker room scandal headlined by left tackle Jonathan Martin, who is not expected to return to Miami, and left guard Richie Incognito, who is suspended by the team while being investigated for his alleged mistreatment of Martin.
As evidence continues to lend itself to the conclusion that Miami has had a broader locker room problem beyond just those two players, Philbin’s job could be on the line if it is determined that he did not do enough to control the off-field situation.
Yet for Philbin, the most important factor to keeping his job is likely to be whether he can keep his team on a winning track. If the Dolphins can make it to the postseason, Philbin will be in much better position than if his team’s season falls apart under the spotlight of scandal.
The Dolphins made a major investment in the 2013 season by making a number of high-profile free-agent signings this offseason, including the additions of wide receiver Mike Wallace and middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. Those moves were made in the expectation of yielding immediate results.
In a league where winning sometimes overshadows problems and losing seems to amplify them, the Dolphins’ on-field results are likely to be the ultimate deciding factor in Philbin’s job future.
Dan Hope is an NFL/NFL draft Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.