ORLANDO — Joe Philbin's had a handful of media appearances since the Ted Wells report was released. And in each one he's been grilled about leadership and the Miami locker room culture.
Tuesday during the AFC coaches' breakfast at the 2014 NFL owners' meetings was no different. And, like he has before, Philbin praised his locker room.
“I believe strongly in the guys in the locker room. I really do. I think they're an excellent group of men,” Philbin said. “I think there are some things we have to do better. There's things I have to do better that we're committed to doing. I believe in the guys that we have. We have roughly 57 guys under contract. We have hard working guys. We have a ton of guys back in the facility already on their own in preparation for the 2014 season. So it's a good group and it's going to get better.”
The Dolphins didn't clean house, however. Mike Pouncey, one of the three players named in the Wells report, is still on the roster. (His status is somewhat up in the air depending on a medical evaluation that has to take place before he can play or be disciplined.) Most of the offensive line is different — Branden Albert is in, Richie Incognito and John Jerry are out — but Philbin's dealing with a similar locker room and, ostensibly, leadership group from last year.
Will he change his approach to letting the players pick the leaders?
“I'm going to look at everything. I haven't made any firm decisions into how I'm going to do it next year,” Philbin said when asked about the leadership council. “It may be exactly the same it may be totally different. That's something I'm going to give continued thought and consideration to. Obviously we've been busy with free agency and then with the draft. That's something typically I've put in place right before the start of the season and I'm going to see how things go.”
The notion of “exactly the same” sounds terrifying for a team coming off a disappointing finish to 2014 and a nightmare public relations scenario thanks to the Incognito and Jonathan Martin business.
Certainly the locker room might be more mature and more cohesive, but you'd think that Philbin would have a more proactive approach to changing the leadership dynamic in what looked like a pretty dysfunctional setting.
Instead, he said that most of the changes he's made have been introspective in nature as he's been “focused mostly on myself.”
“I talked about some of the things I've been more focused on — how can I do things better so something like this doesn't occur and how can we move forward as a football team and an organization,” Philbin said. “I've been focused mostly on myself. I'm the head coach. What do I have to do better? I've talked about some of those things — the visibility, the accessibility, the communication, the vigilance in making sure things get done a certain way. So that's really been my focus in getting this team ready to move forward.”
Philbin being contrite about the 2013 season and what happened is a good thing. And he clearly feels bad about what happens.
But it is a bit odd that he doesn't sound too concerned with changing the process as they move forward or focusing on how to keep his locker room properly in check and evaluated.