Despite widespread media speculation that the Dolphins will pursue 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, owner Stephen Ross has shown no indication that he has any interest in making a coaching change, sources told the Miami Herald on Thursday.
Furthermore, the organization has no desire to be used as leverage in Harbaugh’s upcoming negotiations — which some see as inevitable based on Ross’ previous relationship with Harbaugh.
Harbaugh has been in the news this week after multiple media outlets, including NFL.com, reported that the University of Michigan has offered him a six-year contract worth nearly $50 million to coach its football team.
Many have seen Harbaugh as a likely option for the Dolphins if they decide to move on from Joe Philbin.
Yet Ross as of now has shown no interest in making such a change, sources said.
Harbaugh is the league’s hottest commodity, with reports linking him to multiple teams throughout the league, including the Raiders and Jets.
The tie between Ross and Harbaugh goes back to 2011, when the Dolphins owner unsuccessfully tried to hire him to replace Tony Sparano — who was still employed by the team at the time.
When the overture failed, Ross gave Sparano a contract extension, but the relationship between the two men was never the same.
The organization must surely be sensitive about any impression that history is repeating itself.
For the third time in five days Thursday, Philbin — who is under contract for the 2015 season — was asked about his job security.
The temperature, at least externally, has been turned up on Philbin since last Sunday's 41-13 loss in New England all but erased the Dolphins’ playoff hopes. Miami hasn’t reached the postseason since 2008.
Philbin, whose career record is 22-24, told reporters after practice Thursday that he has been in contact with Ross this week but would not disclose the contents of those conversations.
“I’ve talked to him often, but what we discuss is private,” Philbin said. “I’m not worried about my future. I’m worried about the Minnesota Vikings. That’s it.”
Certainly, Philbin would benefit from a strong finish to the Dolphins’ season — and his entire focus this week has been on beating the Vikings on Sunday and avoiding a three-game losing streak.
Reporters asked Philbin repeatedly Thursday if reaching personal goals would be a legitimate motivation for Dolphins players, now that their playoff chances are basically zero.
His response: “Absolutely not … I want to beat the Minnesota Vikings. That's all I really care about.”
Philbin told his team just that Thursday, adding that if the Dolphins decide to throw the ball 60 times and the running backs have to pick up the blitzing linebacker 58 times, so be it. The context: Lamar Miller is 171 yards from the first 1,000-yard season of his career.
“Football is a team game,” Philbin added. “Always has been, always will be.”
Philbin did add that if personal goals are reached in the process of a player putting forth a winning effort, he would be “delighted.”
When asked how much the next two weeks will be about evaluating pending free agents, Philbin responded: “Zero.”
This and that
▪ The Dolphins, who earlier this season led the league in yards per play allowed, have surrendered 6.1 yards per play over the past three weeks. That’s the sixth-most in football over that time.
▪ Linemen Dallas Thomas (foot) and Nate Garner (migraines) and running back Daniel Thomas (knee) again missed practiceThursday, raising serious doubt that any will play Sunday against the Vikings.
▪ The news was better for cornerback Jamar Taylor (shoulder), who participated fully after being limited on Wednesday.
▪ If Dallas Thomas cannot play, Jason Fox would presumably start at right tackle. Philbin’s assessment of Fox’s abilities: “He’s tough, he’s versatile and he’s smart. He’s competitive.”