There are only 16 games in a regular NFL season and that lends itself to fans, media and even players and coaches making too much out of a win or a loss. Philbin made it clear after the season opener at Houston that he wasn’t going to fall into that trap following a disheartening 30-10 defeat at the hands of the Texans. So he wasn’t about to change things less than 24 hours after Sunday’s 35-13 rout of the Oakland Raiders at Sun Life Stadium.
“I said to the team yesterday, ‘Look, seven days ago we were in the locker room and we said we’ve got to improve and we’ve got to get better,’ and we’ve made a couple of strides but we’ve still got a million miles to go,” Philbin said in his day-after press conference. “There’s a lot of stuff on tape and I said to the staff earlier, ‘ The mood should be the same as any Monday meeting.’ We have corrections we show to the players every week and positives and it should be no different than what we did last Monday.”
Of course it’s difficult to ignore things like a rushing attack that rolled up 263 yards and four touchdowns with an average per carry of 6.1 yards, or the individual effort of running back
Philbin also was quite pleased with his team finishing plus-1 in the turnover battle after losing the ball four times the week before in Houston, and with his defense holding the Raiders ground game to just 23 yards on 14 carries (1.6 average). He praised his coaches in all three phases for calling a stellar game, pointing out the job the defense did in the red zone in holding the Raiders to two field goals and the special teams holding a lopsided edge in field position in addition to the play calling of offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, but he stopped short of going over the top.
“I’d love to tell you our coaching staff got a lot smarter in one week but I don’t know if that’s the case,” Philbin said. “But again, we’re just trying to stay at it and keep an even keel. We want to be a team that gets better as the year goes along and make progress and have that show up on tape. Sometimes the stat sheet can be a little misleading one way or the other and we want our film to be good and we want our players to play tough and play sound.”
More importantly for Philbin are the intangibles that came out of Sunday’s game as far as being able to present viable evidence in the form of a victory that his methods do work. It also provided proof to the players that their hard work paid off and that more good can come out of being properly prepared.
“We feel like these guys, since April 10th, have been giving us excellent effort and it’s nice to see the players get rewarded,” said Philbin, whose entire family was on hand Sunday. “We’ve been talking about the turnover margin since the day we got here. Now, we have some evidence of, ‘Okay, we were plus-one, here’s the final score.’ We’ve been talking about running the football and defending the run, making a team one dimensional and now you can see a team that really called 12 runs and 48 passes. I think there’s some, hopefully some evidence behind some of the things that we’ve been talking about. I do think there’s some validity to that.”
This week’s home game against the New York Jets, which is also a critical game within the division, will go a long way towards continuing that validation.