The Miami Dolphins Explained by Sun Tzu

Perhaps the 2015 Miami Dolphins are best explained by Sun Tzu:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Viewing the Miami Dolphins in the context of this famous quote leads to some interesting conclusions. I would venture to guess Joe Philbin was unaware of the dissent worming through a locker room he declared, “Ready to compete for championships.”

Sorry Joe, that locker room was as divisive as you secretly pushing to draft Derek Carr, only you didn’t know it. The mannerisms of a coach secretly uncomfortable with his starting quarterback radiate loudly in the testosterone fueled confines of an NFL locker room.  Bill Lazor didn’t come to the conclusion Ryan Tannehill shouldn’t run audibles on his own, Joe had a say. Joe was a control freak, some call it “attention to detail,” but for Joe, it was closer to OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder).

When Philbin was still with the team last season, he obviously didn’t know his enemy or his own team as the results revealed. Dan Campbell knew his team, and by having half the formula, he was capable of winning half his games. Ultimately, Campbell was overmatched when it came to knowing his enemy and Miami suffered defeat because of it.

Perhaps Sun Tzu gets too much credit for stating the obvious and issues run far deeper inside Dolphin Land. If the answer is this easy, the future may not be as bleak as the pundits would have it. 4-12, is the latest retreat from the last season’s playoff predictions and probably just as off-base.

The reasoning is simple, it’s not about talent…

It has never been about talent. The Miami Dolphins have as much talent as any team in the NFL. The issue has been leading that talent. Joe Philbin didn’t do the one thing he was brought in to accomplish, develop players. He was supposed to be a teacher, but he turned out to be an obsessive minutia manager. His locker room presence was scolding twenty something hormone raging young men for leaving Gator Gum wrappers on the floor.

He drafted a “cerebral” offensive tackle in the second round because the player fit his perception of proper behavior in the NFL. I guess Joe figured mild mannered Jonathan Martin would mend the ways of Richie Incognito and change the nature of a Center who huddled next to Aaron Hernandez in college.

Know thyself… It seems obvious, Joe didn’t know squat. He turned his back on reality and hoped things would somehow work out, he never fixed them. Philbin hired Jim Turner as OL coach and was unaware of the running 'joke' that Jonathan Martin was gay, and on at least one occasion, coach Turner participated in taunting Martin.

"Around Christmas 2012, Coach Turner gave the offensive linemen gift bags that included a variety of stocking stuffers. The gifts included inflatable female dolls for all of the offensive linemen except Martin, who received a male 'blow-up' doll," the Wells report said.

The key phrase here is, “Turner gave all of the offensive linemen except Martin.” In the locker room, all the players were on one side of the fence and one player was on the opposite. Joe allowed the discord to fester and then punished the majority, including throwing his own coach under the proverbial bus. Philbin should have traded or cut Martin immediately. This is what a leader would have done and this is when Philbin lost the Miami Dolphins.

From that point Joe’s clock was simply ticking to its inevitable end.

Phinbin turned this once proud franchise into a national media punchline, but those “news creators” just looked to pile-on an easy headline. True Miami followers know, there is an abundance of talent on this football team. The lack of national respect could have the 'Dan Campbell' effect, and bring out the best in Miami's talent but it will not be enough.

On the podium stands Adam Gase, a young up-and-comer with what many claim “an exceptional” mind. He’s young enough to perhaps have the “know thyself” arena covered, but suppose Gase is smart enough to have the “know thy enemy” covered as well? Suppose Gase can stare down Belichick and not blink?

Tony Sparano used the wildcat to one-up Belichick. The season may have been without Brady, but the formation did indeed fool Genius Bill for a fleeting moment.

It points back to our friend Sun Tzu, not in the sense that Sparano knew his enemy, but because the formation attacked his enemy’s weaknesses. Sparano didn’t really understand why the wildcat worked, if he did, he would still be a NFL head coach. This is the message for Adam Gase, your enemies all have weaknesses.

To exploit those weaknesses, you must understand them.

Know thy enemy and know thyself and you need not fear the result of a hundred battles…