Thursday, February 20, 2014

Philbin takes accountability but pleads ignorance


In an about-face, the Miami Dolphins scheduled head coach Joe Philbin to speak Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

There, he'd finally address the franchise-shaking details contained in the NFL's independent report on Miami's locker room culture.

And if you've heard Philbin speak in the past, you knew what to expect: acknowledgment of ultimate responsibility for his team, with emphasis on his deniability in the situation.

"I think you can imagine when I got the report, some of the facts, the behavior, the language that was outlined in the report was inappropriate," Philbin said, via the Miami Herald. "It's unacceptable. And I'm the one who is charge of the work place. And I can tell you... we're going to do things about it. We're going to make it better."

This part is an acceptable description of the situation, but then went on to explain he was unaware of these appalling actions happening directly under his nose.

"I would have hoped that I noticed some of these things," Philbin explained. "If I had heard this type of language or these type of acts, I would have intervened immediately.

"...I certainly wish I would have seen some of it. I would have intervened quicker and perhaps it would not have grown to this proportion it has grown to. I have to focus on the future and correct the problems."

Saying the words 'I'm accountable' is a pretty easy thing to do, even if you deny accountability in the next breath. All that matters for him is that he earned the admiration of owner Steve Ross for his handling of the 'Bully-gate' crisis, and Ted Wells' comprehensive report all but absolved him of any negligence.

Instead, it was offensive line coach Jim Turner, head trainer Kevin O'Neill, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and general manager Jeff Ireland all falling on the sword for the organizational dysfunction. As have Jonathon Martin and Richie Incognito, two polar opposite personalities that became a corrosive combination in Philbin's vacuum of leadership.

When asked how Richie Incognito was allowed to become a locker room leader, Philbin again punted, saying "I didn't necessarily name him a leader."

He deferred to the players' self-governance, which is completely fine, but denying knowledge of these ongoing actions he disavowed is either a reprehensible lack of awareness of the organization he's responsible for, or a lie.

If the owner believes Philbin emerges clean and the league's independent investigator agrees, then the man ultimately responsible for the team avoids ultimate blame for the entire crisis.

At least he promises to be better, and fill his true role on the team with more than just words.

"Look, I'm the head football coach," Philbin said. "The team, the performance of the team, the 8-8 record, that falls on my shoulders. I'm going to be more vigilant. I'm going to be more diligent. I'm going to be more visible. I'm going to have a better pulse."

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