Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins players appreciate new head coach Dan Campbell’s intensity

Dan Campbell, right, speaking to the media on Monday when he was named Dolphins interim coach, is the complete opposite of former coach Joe Philbin.
Dan Campbell, right, speaking to the media on Monday when he was named Dolphins interim coach, is the complete opposite of former coach Joe Philbin. hgabino@elnuevoherald.com

He's still a week away from coaching his first game, but in South Florida, Dan Campbell is already a star.

It helps, of course, that he's the anti-Joe Philbin.

If Philbin was the school librarian, Campbell is the gym teacher who challenges his students to chin-up contests.

His caffeine-infused introductory press conference launched countless memes and too many fake Twitter accounts to count.

The chiseled Campbell says things like, "I want those guys to puff their feathers up a little bit," and hopes his players get back to acting like "primates."

And fans, starved for that kind of machismo the last few years, lap it up.

But despite his candor, we still know very little about the Dolphins interim coach.

A few quick facts:

▪  He and his wife Holly have two children -- Cody and Piper.

▪  As a player, Campbell was a member of two teams that reached the Super Bowl (the Giants in 2000 and the Saints in 2009) but also was a part of the 2008 Lions squad that went 0-16.

▪  In 2003, he was named to USA Today's All-Joe Team (given to the NFL's unsung heroes). He also was an Ed Block Courage Award recipient as a player.

▪  He has a scar on his side from an appendectomy. Feeding into his tough-guy persona, Campbell missed just a week of practice due to the procedure.

Of course, all of this can be learned with a simple Google search.

To really get to know Campbell, talk to those who know him best: the players who spend every day with him -- particularly Miami's tight ends.

"He just understands the game," said Jake Stoneburner, who has two touchdown catches this year. "He played for 11 years. He gets what it takes to win. He likes the competitiveness and the toughness of the game and he takes it to the coaching side of it. But he also gets you as a player. He gets what we go through each day. Whether it’s mentally or physically, he understands it, so it’s also a good thing to have."

Stoneburner added: "He looks like he could still suit up. I don’t know if it adds to how well he can coach but maybe he can get big and intimidate some other coaches."

Campbell's intensity is legendary. Ask Michael Egnew.

As a rookie, Egnew had the misfortune of being not very good at his job while also starring on a reality TV show. That was the Dolphins' Hard Knocks year, and Campbell chewed on Egnew like a bone.

But Stoneburner has a different take.

"He certainly never got in any of the tight ends’ faces," he added. "Now, he yelled and was aggressive with his coaching just because he wanted the best out of us but never in-your-face type yelling."

Of the current Dolphins tight ends, Dion Sims has known Campbell the longest.

Sims calls his new head coach a "grinder," and likens him to Campbell's mentor, Bill Parcells. Now in these parts, that might be seen as a negative, but Parcells' track record as a coach cannot be questioned.

Sims insists Campbell can turn it around -- as soon as players get used to him being in charge.

Sims said the first team meeting after Philbin's firing "was kind of weird, especially for me, a tight end. It was kind of weird to see him up there in that position. Everybody’s excited about it. Everybody believes he’s a great coach. He’s one of the best coaches on the staff and he’s in a great spot."

According to the NFL, receiver Jarvis Landry was fined $23,152 for abusive language toward a game official during the Oct. 4 game against the Jets.

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