Regrets, Joe Philbin might have a few.
But how he handled the Richie Incognito saga is not one of them.
When Philbin was asked by Buffalo reporters Wednesday if he had any regrets over how he dealt with Incognito during the team’s 2013 bullying scandal, Philbin responded:
“No, not at all.”
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The reason this is relevant: Incognito returns to Miami in a Bills uniform Sunday for the first time since the scandal.
Philbin came under fire in 2013 for being the coach of a team divided by what investigator Ted Wells ultimately deemed a culture of harassment. Incognito was the prime offender.
Wells determined that Philbin did not know about the hostile workplace behavior until Jonathan Martin left the team over the way he was treated, an act that sparked a weeks-long national conversation over bullying.
Once incriminating texts were made public, the Dolphins suspended Incognito indefinitely; he never played another down for Miami, and spent all of 2014 out of football before signing with the Bills in the offseason.
When pressed by Buffalo media via conference call on how Incognito handled himself in the Dolphins locker room, Philbin replied:
“Look, you know, that was a long time ago, guys. I’m not going to get into that. As I think I’ve said, he deserves to be back in the National Football League. I wish him well, but we’re focused on this game and not going back in time two years.”
Philbin was relatively tight-lipped when Miami-based reporters asked about Incognito on Wednesday.
But both past and current teammates of the Bills’ controversial lineman came to his defense.
“I like Richie and I’ve spoken to him several times since everything went down,” Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill said Wednesday. “There’s no fuel or emotions or anything like that. People leave here all the time, and so it’s not strange to play against someone who was a former teammate.”
Tight end Charles Clay played with Incognito in Miami. Now they’re teammates in Buffalo.
“I think the world of him,” Clay said. “He’s a great guy.”
Clay was careful with his words when asked to describe Philbin’s coaching style. But he sees a real contrast between Philbin and Bills coach Rex Ryan.
“With Rex, the atmosphere is a lot more … laid back,” Clay said.
I wish him well, but we’re focused on this game and not going back in time two years.
Meanwhile, Ndamukong Suh on Wednesday had little to say about his latest controversy — whether or not he at times went outside the structure of the defense against Jacksonville — but held nothing back when asked how the defense has played in general.
“I just think it’s unacceptable,” Suh said of the team’s defensive statistics.
Suh, who has yet to make an impact in his short time with the Dolphins, was particularly bothered about a run defense that ranks 27th league-wide (142 yards per game). Suh has just three tackles — none of which were for a loss — in two games thus far.
“It’s something you’ve got to understand you’ve got to respect every single team’s run-game,” Suh added. “That’s our first goal. We’ve got to go out there and stop, and obviously if we don’t stop we’re not going to have that many opportunities to pass-rush and get after the quarterback. So they work hand-in-hand.”
Aasked directly about the Miami Herald’s report that he occasionally went off script in the Jaguars game, Suh simply referred to Philbin’s denial of the report from earlier in the week.
“My job [is] to go out there and play as hard and as fast as I can with their direction,” Suh said.