During a recent Baseball Beer BBQ Show (very recent, as it was the World Series pregame episode) my good friend Mr. Fabulous (aka Ted Hicks, @RealTedHicks) mentioned there is far too much talk leaking from the front office regarding off-season moves, whether it’s Cespedes, Harvey, Murphy, whoever. I don’t remember the exact statement (and I’m too lazy to pull up the podcast to check), but Ted basically said he wished the front office would shut down the talk, at least publicly, and keep the focus on the Series. Ted was worried the team might lose some of their focus on the game with so much of their future in question.
Well, I don’t know if they lost focus, but they did lose Game One, and what a game it was. I have much better compadres who will address that game, so I’ll leave that to them. I’m much more concerned about what Ted highlighted, the front office publicly talking about the future when the focus needs to be on today. Specifically as it relates to my favorite team, the Miami Dolphins.
If you’re reading this, you know all about the futility of the Miami Dolphins over the last – oh, millennium or so. All those lost seasons of Dave Wannstedt, Jim Bates, Nick Saban, Cam Cameron, Tony Sparano, Todd Bowles, and yes, Good Guy Joe Philbin. I don’t even remember Jim Bates’ interim reign. And I wish I could forget everyone else – yes, including Jimmy Johnson, one of the most overrated coaches ever. A .563 record. Yeah, you belong in the broadcast booth and your fishing camp, pal. But at least you weren’t Joe Philbin.
So even if you liked Johnson (and you’re wrong if you did), the Dolphins have suffered through mediocre to gawdawful coaching. That is, until the day after the London Massacre, when owner Stephen Ross finally listened to someone who has seen a football, fired Philbin, and put Dan Campbell in his place. Campbell surveyed the situation, and after several days of measured study, he fired the equally useless defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. In reality, Campbell probably fired Coyle’s worthless ass before he moved his clipboard into his new office, but didn’t want to embarrass the sap too badly.
I’m not saying Dan Campbell is definitely the guy to run the Dolphins for the next three decades, but he hasn’t done anything to prove he isn’t, either. With the exact same team, Campbell has turned the moribund I’m-just-gonna-go-through-the-motions-and-watch-Jarvis-Landy-play Dolphins to a pack of mad dogs. And while it is true that every one of these guys is highly compensated for their efforts, and should be self-motivated, think about it. You go to your job every day, just like Cam Wake. And every day, your boss clearly has no clue about the business. You’re the top performer at your firm, but the boss never recognizes it; not saying he doesn’t say thanks, he just knows so little about the work, he doesn’t know how you do it. Finally the board gets tired of years of trailing the pack, and they promote a guy from inside the company, a guy who knows the job. A guy who motivates you to do better than you ever thought you could do, be better than you thought you could be. Your job just changed, didn’t it? That’s Dan Campbell. The Dolphins finally have a coach who knows you throw the football with the pointy end first. He also knows you have to run with it, a lot, and that when you tackle, you put your man down.
So regardless of the outcome of their first real test, the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, Campbell is clearly the right man for the job for the foreseeable future. Which brings me back to Ted’s lament at the beginning.
Why in the name of all that is holy would you let a single word of a coaching search leak out? Word is that the Dolphins are “very interested” in New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Payton, I’ll give you, but Haley stunk up Kansas City. And Haley is exactly the hire you made with Joe Philbin, an offensive coordinator getting credit for “coaching” a Hall of Fame quarterback. So hell no to Haley.
And frankly, hell no to Payton. I think he’d be great. But we HAVE a head coach. We have a head coach who has the team fired up, and playing to their potential, possible beyond their potential (well see how the game goes in New England). The time you evaluate a coach is typically after the season. In Philbin’s case, you had seasons of futility to evaluate, and still took too damn long to fire him. So Dan Campbell has the Dolphins setting all time NFL records in just two games, and you are publicly shopping for a permanent coach?
Maybe, Stephen, for once in your life, stay the hell out of your own way, and let Dan Campbell take this team where he can. The stadium was chanting “Dan, Dan, Dan” at the end of their annihilation of the Texans. Did you ever hear them chant “Joe”, or “Todd”, or “Tony”, or…you get the idea. To Campbell’s credit, he joked the crowd must have thought Marino came back out. Campbell makes the success all about the team, and he’s right to do so. He just knows how to get the team to play as one. So shaddup already about your shopping list. You already have a coach who has total buy-in from his players. And that is as valuable a commodity as there is in all of sport.