Miami Dolphins

Dolphins’ Mike Tannenbaum: I supported Joe Philbin, wish things had worked out

Mike Tannenbaum, Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the Miami Dolphins.
Mike Tannenbaum, Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the Miami Dolphins. AP

Dolphins football czar Mike Tannenbaum made the rounds on local radio Tuesday morning and spoke in detail about a good many things.

Not the least of which:

How and why the decision was made to fire coach Joe Philbin last week — and whether Philbin deserved better than to learn his fate over the phone.

Team owner Stephen Ross wasn’t in South Florida on Oct. 5 when he decided to end the Philbin coaching experiment. And so the owner informed his coach of his decision remotely.

“Here’s what I can say about that: Steve’s an incredible person,” Tannenbaum, the Dolphins’ executive vice president of football operations, said on 790 The Ticket. “He’s incredibly loyal. That's certainly been his track record. It's not for me to speak about, but I can say that Joe and Steve have a very good relationship.”

Added Tannenbaum: “In a perfect world, things logistically could have been different. But a decision had been made. … Candidly, we had to do what was best for the Miami Dolphins, which is, if a change was going to be made, it had to be done as quickly as possible to give the successor every minute of that bye week to get as organized as possible.”

Tannenbaum did push back against the narrative that he wasn’t completely invested in Philbin when he took the Dolphins job in the winter. CBSSports.com reported Sunday that after Tannenbaum was hired, he tried to convince Ross to scuttle Philbin and hire then-Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who is now the Falcons’ head coach.

“That’s totally not true,” Tannenbaum said on The Ticket. “I took the job after meeting with Steve Ross a couple of times. I knew Coach Philbin was on the precipice of being announced with a long-term extension. I knew about it and supported it at the time. I was offered the job with one set of circumstances, which was to work with [general manager] Dennis Hickey and Joe Philbin, and I’m really proud to say I gave Coach Philbin everything I had for seven months. I’m disappointed that the decision was made.”

Momentum to fire Philbin, Tannenbaum said, really picked up when the Dolphins listlessly lost to the Jets in London on Oct. 4. Ross wanted to sleep on it before making a decision; by lunchtime the next day, Philbin was out and Dan Campbell was in on an interim basis.

The powers-that-be picked Campbell to coach the season’s final 12 games because they viewed him as a natural leader with high energy and the ability to affect change. Being able to relate to his team as a former player is certainly a plus, Tannenbaum said.

But Tannenbaum also didn’t want the former Cowboys tight end to be viewed as all hat, no cattle.

“We all get painted with brushes in life, and a reputation, ‘Oh, he was a blocking tight end and he’s a big guy, so he’s just going to be a tough guy,’ ” Tannenbaum said. “Dan’s very thoughtful as well. He’s very insightful. He’s been around the game.”

Meanwhile, appearing on 640 AM-WMEN on Tuesday morning, Tannenbaum also acknowledged that the talent on the team simply might not be as good as he thought.

“Of course,” he said. “You have to look at everything. We have to, as an organization, be better across the board. I think that’s totally fair. Candidly, the teams that, in my opinion, are the most successful in the legaue, year-in and year-out, are the ones that correctly evaluate their own. Those are things we’re going to keep looking at.”

▪ The Dolphins on Tuesday released rookie running back Raheem Mostert, who briefly returned kickoffs for the team. Mostert’s agent, Brett Tessler, wrote on Twitter that if Mostert clears waivers Wednesday, he will be signed to the Dolphins’ practice squad.

▪ The Dolphins announced five more members of their 50th season team Tuesday: Doug Betters, Bryan Cox, Bob Kuechenberg, Tony Nathan and Richmond Webb.

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