Experienced. Intelligent. Motivated. Innovative. Even Scholarly. Mike Sherman brings so many things that will prove invaluable to first-year head coach Joe Philbin. While it is hard not to be impressed with the staff Philbin has put together, it is Sherman who may very well go down as his most prudent hire.
Look at the resume. Look at the accomplishments. Head coach of the Green Bay Packers. Even General Manager of the Packers. Head coach at Texas A&M. Offensive Coordinator with both the Seahawks and Texans. So many stops. So much success. So many people impressed with what he has done.
“I think this is the eleventh time I’ve moved ,” Sherman said. “When my wife sees the Mayflower truck, she goes into convulsions.”
But back before all the Mayflower trucks, back when he was an English teacher at tiny Worcester (Mass.) Academy, it was then when he first met a kid named Joe Philbin, one of his students. Who knew that someday the teacher would work for the student, would be responsible for helping Philbin turn this Dolphins offense into something special.
Strange how things run full circle. But Philbin wouldn’t have had it any other way. He trusts Sherman, respects him, values his vast storehouse of knowledge and in many ways is better suited for the challenges that await with Sherman at his side. The day he was hired, Philbin listed Sherman as one of his mentors. He wasn’t just being polite.
“I always had a lot of respect for Joe,” Sherman says with a wry smile. “He really knows football. Very introspective. Very cerebral.”
Know this about Mike Sherman. He had options. The Dolphins weren’t the only team vying for his services. But knowing Philbin as he did and hearing how owner Steven Ross was committed to bringing this franchise a Super Bowl title were the clinching factors.
Sherman also watched film of the Dolphins. That didn’t hurt either. “I don’t think we’re that far away. I saw a lot of the pieces. Yes, we have some holes to fill. But I see a lot of talent. I also see some hidden players on this roster.”
I asked him about two players in particular, wide receiver
“There are so many ways to get Bush the ball. You just want to get it in his hands. Marshall? He’s explosive. If you have explosive players, you should have explosive plays.”
You get the feeling like a mad scientist he’s already concocting ways of utilizing some of these players. “Guys who make plays,” Sherman said, “will be allowed to make plays.”
What should Dolphins fans expect from Sherman? He isn’t an easy read. He talks about adjusting the offense to the players he has. He talks about playing smart, playing aggressive. He talks about balance. His track record tells you he likes to throw the ball, likes to toss in some intriguing wrinkles. He showed that passing fancy with Brett Favre in Green Bay and then last season with Ryan Tannehill at Texas A&M.
Tannehill happens to be a highly-rated quarterback in this April’s draft. Is he a possibility for the Dolphins? Sherman put on his best poker face. “He’s getting over an injury. I’m looking forward to seeing him throw. He’s a good kid.”
Everybody wanted to talk quarterbacks with Sherman in his first press conference as offensive coordinator. But Sherman isn’t ready for that. He wants to evaluate what’s here, how
“When you look at quarterbacks,” Sherman said, “there’s a lot to study.”
Among those at his side in this challenge will be Zac Taylor. The title is assistant quarterback coach. But don’t let the title fool you. Sherman considers Taylor one of the bright young minds in the coaching business, not to mention a pretty good son-in-law as well.
But this isn’t about doing any special favors. Taylor was Big 12 Player of the Year at Nebraska in 2006. Sometimes it takes a good quarterback to know a good quarterback. He tutored under Sherman at Texas A&M and when you ask Sherman about him, the response is resounding:
“I’d be shocked in 10 years if he’s not a head coach,” said Sherman. “A very good offensive mind.”
Sherman knows plenty about offensive minds. Between him and Philbin, the Dolphins have about as good a one-two punch as you could hope for. Teacher and Student. Two close friends. Each filled with ideas. Each sharing an unyielding respect.
I can’t wait to see how all of this unfolds, how they put these pieces together and what new pieces they add to the equation.
“I’ve got plenty on my plate,” Sherman says. “This is a great opportunity.”
And one that was simply too good for Mike Sherman to pass up.