Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero: Joe Philbin delusional about lost Miami Dolphins season

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was continually under pressure Sunday from a myriad of Jets blitzes, like this one from New York cornerback Buster Skrine.
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was continually under pressure Sunday from a myriad of Jets blitzes, like this one from New York cornerback Buster Skrine. AP

Soon after his team’s third consecutive defeat, Joe Philbin somehow mustered the unmitigated optimism — or maybe it was just sheer nerve — to suggest the Miami Dolphins, unraveling from all corners with no solutions in sight, could still salvage this season.

“Absolutely, absolutely,” the Dolphins’ embattled coach said. “We’ve got to beat the Tennessee Titans first to start salvaging our season. We’ve got to have a look critically at what we are doing in all aspects, which we did. We adjusted some things strength and conditioning-wise this week.

“We adjusted some meetings. We adjusted some practice time. We adjusted some things schematically. Obviously, it didn’t give us the end result we’re looking for yet. We’ll continue. We’ve got a bye week to examine it even closer and come up with a solution that works.”

And I’m thinking what does he see that I don’t?

Never mind that. Whatever he sees is a mirage. Philbin says the Dolphins can salvage their season.

They cannot.

This season at 1-3 is not going to end in a division title. We know that already because the New England Patriots sprinted out of the gates undefeated, and the Dolphins can’t even walk a straight line.

This team cannot figure out how to start a game as if it mattered to them. On Sunday, the Jets scored on their first drive — just like the Bills did two weeks ago, just how the Jaguars did three weeks ago, and just how the Redskins did four weeks ago.

This team cannot recognize that Jets cornerback Buster Skrine is blitzing on practically every pass play. I recognized it. Why didn’t they? And if they did recognize it, why didn’t they figure out how to block Skrine so the Jets would stop sending him after Ryan Tannehill time and again as if by replay?

This team cannot figure out its issues tackling cleanly.

This team cannot figure out how to move the chains consistently enough to boast a running game. The leading rusher Sunday, by the way, was Jarvis Landry with 29 yards.

He’s a receiver.

This team cannot figure out how to score more than two touchdowns on offense. This team cannot figure out how to maximize players who have been stars in the past.

And Philbin still thinks he can salvage the season? He might not be able to save himself.

Philbin might or might not survive the coming bye week. But whatever happens this week really doesn’t matter. The firing seems to be merely a timing issue now.

Everyone sees that except, of course, the coach himself. He said after this game he wasn’t worried about his job status. Maybe that’s because owner Stephen Ross is as blind as everyone else around this team. Maybe Ross doesn’t see the same need for a change that everyone else sees.

Ross came to this game thinking he might have to consider firing his coach if the team got blown out. But the owner didn’t expect to get blown out, so he brought some influential friends to England to show off his team.

All he showed them was the same kind of unacceptable performance we saw at the end of last season.

The 2014 Dolphins lost three of their final four games, put a leaky defense on the field, couldn’t stop anyone, and you know what Ross did?

He gave Philbin a contract extension.

And you know what Philbin did in turn after the defense continued its systematic decline under coordinator Kevin Coyle?

He gave Coyle an endorsement.

And now with this season in the loo, as the Brits say, Philbin is repeating his mistake. Although Coyle should have been fired at the end of last season and should be fired now, today, Philbin said he would continue as defensive coordinator.

Coyle has lost this defense. Some of his players do not respect him. Some don’t like him very much. None will say so publicly. But it is true.

That’s one reason Coyle had a closed-door meeting with players last Monday to air out grievances. At that meeting, players asked Coyle to change his defense, particularly up front.

Defensive linemen, who are playing a two-gap defense in Coyle’s system, hate it. The two-gap requires players to read two gaps and react rather than simply attack up field as in a one-gap scheme. Coyle listened to the complaints.

But apparently not much changed.

And so when Ndamukong Suh, the team’s highest-paid player, wore sneakers to a full-padded practice during the week, other players noticed. They took it as a sign Suh was making a statement of dissatisfaction over the defensive coaching.

And why are players drawing that conclusion? Because a prominent handful of them are dissatisfied over the defensive coaching, too.

I asked Suh what gear he wore to practice Thursday.

“Next question,” he answered.

I asked Suh if the Monday meeting resolved anything.

“Next question,” he answered.

I asked Suh why the defense chronically starts slow.

“Next question,” he answered.

And the non-answers were appropriate after the game because Suh clearly had no answer during the game when Jets running back Chris Ivory ran through his attempted tackle as if he was a hologram.

And Joe Philbin believes this season is going to be salvaged?

Armando Salguero: 305-376-4993, @ArmandoSalguero

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