Joe Philbin hired dozens of coaches and coached hundreds of players in his four years as Dolphins coach.
And his lasting (and perhaps only) legacy?
Drafting a quarterback he never truly loved and signing a defensive tackle to the richest contract ever for an interior lineman.
But as Adam Gase enters Year 3 in Miami, he has a chance to otherwise erase Philbin’s forgettable four years in Miami.
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Whether his intention or not, Gase took another step in that direction over the weekend, firing assistants Lou Anarumo and Terrell Williams, two of the few remaining holdovers from the previous staff.
Assuming Gase makes no other moves — which, admittedly, is a big assumption — the only two remaining Philbin hires on staff in Miami would be Charlie Bullen, assistant linebackers coach; and Ben Johnson, assistant wide receivers coach.
Darren Rizzi, Miami’s special teams coordinator and former Philbin lieutenant, remains with the organization, but he actually predates Philbin’s time here. Rizzi was hired by Tony Sparano.
The rest of Miami’s staff is all Gase hires — and frankly, it probably should be. A head coach deserves to have his own people run his team. Defensive coordinator Matt Burke, a Gase hire, remains in place, while offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen will have a different role with the team in 2018.
To be fair, not everyone was keen on this weekend’s news. Agent David Canter, who has represented Dolphins assistants in the past, wrote the following about Anarumo’s firing on Twitter: “Dislike this decision immensely. Hard to defend for 3-5 seconds with little pass rush. Xavien Howard, [Bobby] McCain, Reshad [Jones] and [Tony] Lippett (last year) thrived under him. Great football coach.”
So how about the players? Philbin was in the war room for four drafts — during which Miami selected 33 players — and at the very least had a voice in the Dolphins’ free-agent decisions (they were big spenders in his last three seasons).
Three years later, here’s who remains from all that time and energy and those resources: Ryan Tannehill, Ndamukong Suh, DeVante Parker, Jordan Phillips, Kenny Stills and Tony Lippett.
Wide receiver Jarvis Landry is set to become a free agent if the Dolphins do not tag or extend him by March. The Dolphins have the rights to Ja’Wuan James and Neville Hewitt in 2018, but it’s unlikely they will keep James, their starting right tackle since 2014, under his existing contract (he’s owed $9.3 million).
By and large, that’s because the players Philbin, Jeff Ireland and Dennis Hickey picked simply were not very good. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule; Olivier Vernon, Lamar Miller and Rishard Matthews have gone on to become important pieces for the Giants, Texans and Titans.
But for each Vernon, there are five Will Davises. The Dolphins’ braintrust between 2012 and 2015 simply did not acquire enough talent to win — or keep their jobs.
And we’ll leave you with this bit of irony: Philbin’s biggest contribution to the Dolphins organization? Taking Tannehill with his first draft pick as Dolphins coach.
But Philbin seemed always on the fence about Tannehill, and even considered drafting his replacement in 2014.
Four years later, Philbin is on his second job since Miami, and Tannehill has Gase’s full support.
▪ Gase has at least three jobs to fill in the coming weeks: defensive line coach (last held by Williams), defensive backs coach (Anarumo) and running backs coach (Danny Barrett).