The Miami Dolphin Coaching Staff Makes the Difference

Please forgive me while I warm up to our Miami Dolphin season with a little ramble.

2014 could go in many directions but the key is not named Ryan Tannehill. You see, potential and a dollar bill will buy a Snickers bar or a cup of coffee, but not much else. The Dolphins have spent two seasons grooming Tannehill and it's noteworthy in this age of mega-money and instant gratification because it points to a broader view of the direction this team is traveling.

Joe Philbin said he would build a team through the draft and aside from some questionable Jeff Ireland free agents, he appears to be keeping his word. The first drive of 2014 left me in awe. Bill Lazor calling plays with Tannehill at the helm showed an offense far from the anything seen in Miami since Dan Marino hung up the spikes.

Okay it was perfect, but that's more of an abnormality than what we should realistically expect. At the professional level, I have always thought there was little difference in talent from one team to the next except at a few critical positions. The quarterback is easily the most important, yet rarely are they given the opportunity to grow at the most difficult position in all of sports.

It’s evident in the signing of Brady Quinn. There is no need going back over Miami passing on Quinn in the draft. It’s easier to look at where his career went and imagine if he'd been groomed instead of thrown to the wolves. It makes me wonder if the art of coaching is what was lost in Miami and not the lack of talent.

I look at Joe Philbin on the sidelines during games and I must admit, he comes off as a whiny mouth breather. I know, harsh - but this is what I see… Like most, I am easily thrown off by visual perception; the stereotype must look the part. I should have learned long ago when people stopped listening to music and started watching it. The product wasn’t about how good the music sounded, but how good the performers looked playing it.

It gave me an interesting idea, why does a head coach need to be on the sideline? What if Joe Philbin broke with tradition and simply delegated an assistant to throw the red flag. I know, he needs to motivate and slap some butts, high five, yell at underperformers, but is there really a reason, really? He ain’t ever going to come off like Vince Lombardi even if he wore big black plastic framed glasses and started making motivational quotes.

Joe Philbin is proving to be a manager, a guy who sees what he likes and finds a way to make it happen. The talk was, no OC wanted to come to Miami and Bill Lazor was selected by default. In one drive we saw what Joe Philbin saw during the interview process. Lazor wasn’t a lame duck, he was the best man to make Philbin’s vision a reality.

One drive and the NFL sat up and said, “oh my” like the old lady in the Buick commercial. Which leads us back to Tannehill and Quinn, there is plenty of talent in the NFL and perhaps we focus a little too much on the guy behind center. Look up some hall-of-fame QBs, names like Namath, Bradshaw, even Griese and you will find that, the skill level of Marino doesn't lead to Super Bowl victories. Those winner's numbers were rather pedestrian.

I wonder, if a talent as great as Marino cannot win the big dance and a talent as lackluster as Griese can, what separates them? They had the same coach. It seems perhaps even the winningest coach of all time fell into the trap and let his eyes overrule results. It’s not about the player, it’s about the team…

I won’t mention Namath again because… Well you know why, he’s a freaking Jet! Look at Bradshaw and you see Franko, Swann, Stallworth, Mean Joe, Jack Lambert, etc. That was a team. Griese, Csonka, Warfield, Little, Buoniconti, Scott, etc. TEAM.

They say in the age of free agency, “it’s harder to create a team then it was in the past,” but I don’t know if that’s true. Perhaps it’s the age of instant gratification making it harder to create a team. Perhaps, it’s harder to find coaches and personnel people who work together well enough to create a team.

If all teams have an equal share of the money, players can only make the value placed on them by the team in need of their talents. We end up with Wheeler and Ellerbe when Dansby and Burnett were probably better. There’s a knack some personnel people have that eludes others, draft well and allow players to walk when the guy behind them is ready to step up. Big Paul is gone, but Starks and Odrick can carry the weight and Mitchell arrives at a cheaper price. All that with lesser rookie talents fighting for a job behind them.

The point of this ramble is to show that TEAMS go on to be great when great coaches and personnel people make it happen. Don Shula won because he knew talent and could bring out the best in players. Perhaps in the end, the wonder of Marino’s arm trapped him… Like a Diva on stage, we watch with our eyes and forget the lost art in the music.

It’s difficult to be harsh on Danny but the TEAM took a backseat and therein we see the danger of the QB love affair.

How many SBs will Payton Manning win? He won one in the perfect scenario but it’s highly doubtful he will win another. The conclusion is - Tannehill doesn’t need to be Marino or Manning to be great, he needs to lead a team. Griese never had those gifts, but he had something Marino never had, a great team…

A quarterback needs to be a leader, but coaches and personnel people make teams. Joe Philbin can sit in the coaches’ box watching his creation, no need to subvert TV ratings with his mouth breathing incongruence with stereotypical divinity. As long as he grooms Lazor, Coyle and Hickey and that QB, I’ll be content with Matt Moore throwing out the red flag!

Something tells me Boss Ross thinks the same way…

You go Joe!