Miami Dolphins Latest Combine News and Rumors
From firings to being the center of interviews, the Dolphins' impact on the combine has been more than just scouting the 2014 NFL draft class.
Here's a roundup of some of the hot stories and rumors emanating from the combine that surround the Miami Dolphins.
Jim Turner, Kevin O'Neill: Fired
The Dolphins began the combine with a bang, sending offensive line coach Jim Turner and head trainer Kevin O'Neill packing after both were implicated in Ted Wells' investigation.
The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson reported that both decisions were made by owner Stephen Ross after a couple of days of deliberating.
I understand the deliberations when it comes to O'Neill. He traveled with the team to Indianapolis and was fired not too long after they landed. The reason for his firing appears to be for his inaction, according to the Wells Report, which is only based off of an accusation.
Former Dolphins head coach Jimmy Johnson (who brought in O'Neill) came to his defense, stating on Twitter that "O'Neill was the best I was ever around."
Johnson would later implicate that part of the reason O'Neill didn't share as much information as Wells might have wanted to was due to HIPAA, stating: "Trainers have info from Doctors that is confidential and they can not discuss."
ESPN.com's Stephania Bell reports that O'Neill was also given the 2014 Fain-Cain Memorial Award for Outstanding Athletic Trainer of the Year by the NFL Physician's Society while in Indianapolis.
That firing deserves scrutiny as the Dolphins had one of the best and most respected trainers in the league.
As for Turner, I don't see why it took so long for Ross to deliberate over firing him. He should've been gone on Black Monday.
Joe Philbin Gets Turner His Money
Joe Philbin might not appear to be all that good of a football coach, but he does seem to look out for his friends.
Which is why Turner will get a severance package thanks to Philbin.
As The Boston Globe's Ben Volin points out: "Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wanted to fire Turner with cause, but Philbin successfully fought for Turner to receive two years of salary as severance pay."
The just cause was the bullying scandal, but there's also my definition of just cause: 58 sacks and a poor running game.
Michael Sam States He'd Be Excited to Join the Miami Dolphins
With the bullying scandal coming at the same time that the NFL will welcome their first openly gay player, you knew these two worlds would collide at some point.
Michael Sam would be asked at the combine if he'd have any issues playing for the Miami Dolphins. His answer at the combine, per Dan Hanzus of NFL.com, shows that it's all about football, and also will tell you where exactly Jonathan Martin went wrong.
"If the Miami Dolphins drafted me I will be excited to be a part of that organization, but I'm not thinking about going into that environment," he said. "I know how to handle myself. I know how to communicate with my teammates. I know how to communicate with the coaches and know the staff, whoever I need to communicate with."
What Sam described, handling himself and communicating with teammates, coaches and staff, is where Martin went wrong.
Now, when it comes to football, the Dolphins would actually be a great team for Sam.
Sam is a 4-3 defensive end who could shift to linebacker in a 3-4. He likely will need some seasoning at the NFL level to work on stopping the run.
Miami Dolphins' defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers is one of the best defensive line coaches in the NFL—and should eventually get the promotion to defensive coordinator—and could coach Sam in the same way he has worked with Paul Soliai and Jared Odrick in the interior as well as Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby.
Sam likely won't be a Miami Dolphin though, but that's due to the glut of defensive ends on Miami's roster right now and the fact that at this point in his career, he isn't better than any of them.
ESPN.com's James Walker Reports Mike Pouncey and Chris Clemons News
I'm just the messenger here, as this comes from ESPN.com's James Walker:
"The Ted Wells report most likely saved the Dolphins a lot of money when it comes to Mike Pouncey. He played at a high level the past three seasons and has outperformed his rookie contract. Pouncey made his first Pro Bowl last season and is to make $1.638 million in 2014. However, taking part in the harassment of teammate Jonathan Martin, along with Richie Incognito and John Jerry, is reason enough to deny Pouncey a long-term extension. Pouncey is a good player, but it would probably send a bad message throughout the organization and around the league to reward Pouncey after the questionable year he's had off the field."
Now, Walker doesn't say if this comes from a source, he just states the possibility. I do think that the Dolphins will likely play the wait-and-see game.
If Pouncey stays clean throughout the year and has a good season, he'll get a contract. If not, they'll let him walk. Letting him walk in case he messes up again was part of the reason why I advocate trading Pouncey so the Dolphins could get something out of it.
Later on in the same Twitter mailbag, Walker was asked about free agent safety Chris Clemons. This was his take on the situation:
I wouldn’t rule out a return for Chris Clemons, but he is not a priority for the Dolphins. Miami would like a more dynamic player to pair with Reshad Jones next season.The Dolphins might be able to find one via the draft or free agency. Clemons is not a game-changer. He's just average. So the Dolphins will not rush to sign Clemons, and won’t lose any sleep if he finds a job elsewhere.
This would be a mistake. Clemons was more consistent than Jones in 2013, so while he shouldn't be the biggest priority (Brent Grimes and Soliai should be), Clemons should be someone the Dolphins should attempt to keep.
Philbin Speaks, Yet Says Nothing
Philbin's press conference at the NFL combine was one of the most long-awaited combine press conferences in a while.
Surely, the head coach of the Miami Dolphins had a lot to say when it comes to the problems facing his team.
All we got was empty declarations and an unwillingness to be held responsibility for anything despite saying that he is responsible for the team.
As Philbin put it, per Will Brinson of CBSSports.com:
"I want everybody to know I am the one who is responsible for the workplace environment at the Miami Dolphins facility," Philbin said. "I'm the one that sets the schedule. I decide when the practices are. I decide what time players eat, how they meet, when they leave, everything they do at the facility."
He was then asked about Richie Incognito being a part of the leadership council:
“I didn't necessarily make him a leader," Philbin said. "The leadership council we have in place—the process is the players elect the players they want to be on the leadership council. I respect the process and that's how the votes came in."
Now, if he was fine with Incognito being a leader at the time, he should've said that was the case. I'd respect him more for that than this instance of player blame. He is the head coach, so he can overrule a team decision made by players.
"I don't have the benefit of looking back. I would hope that I would've noticed some of these things," Philbin said. "If I had heard this type of language or these type of acts being done I would intervened immediately. There's a common decency that people need to have toward one another. And when that gets violated that's an issue.
"I certainly wish I'd seen some of it."
Now, a few things I'd like to mention. I don't think you can blame Philbin for the text messages or anything that doesn't happen in Davie, Fla.
But some of this stuff did happen in Davie, and while I can buy that he didn't see any signs of bullying, I can't buy that he didn't at least see that Martin was troubled at the very least.
The Wells Report does state that Martin contemplated suicide in 2013 and that members of the Dolphins' organization knew about it.
Philbin would go on to say that he was committed to building a better workplace:
"We're going to look at every avenue," Philbin said. "We're going to uncover every stone and we're going to have a better workplace. I promise you that. I'm going to make sure that happens."
The best workplace in football is a winning workplace. Miami doesn't have a winning workplace at this time. That falls on Philbin as much as it did on Jeff Ireland, Mike Sherman or Turner, and much more on Philbin than it did on O'Neill.
Philbin will eventually lead Miami to a better workplace. Either the Dolphins will win in 2014 (spurring the improvement), or he will lose his job spurring an even bigger improvement.