Philbin was McCarthy’s offensive coordinator with the Packers from 2007-11 and the two developed a successful and productive working relationship and friendship. McCarthy had an encouraging message for Miami’s fans and players regarding what to expect under Philbin.
“It’ll be a train ride, it won’t be a roller-coaster ride because Joe’s going to be the same individual everyday,” said McCarthy, who won a Super Bowl with Philbin two years ago. “I think that’s very important as a leader, particularly in sports. I’d say consistency and intelligence are Joe’s two biggest strengths. He has a plan and he knows what he’s looking for.”
When Philbin was asked Tuesday if he had a fiery side to his personality he smiled and admitted that there were two things a player could do that might incur his wrath – not give the maximum effort and make the same mistakes over and over. Otherwise he’s pretty even keeled.
McCarthy likes that levelheaded side of Philbin and what it brings to the practice field and to the locker room. But he will not discount the intense devotion Philbin has to the profession and how passionate he can be when push comes to shove in practice or in games.
“I heard him swear once or twice but Joe’s a very passionate man,” McCarthy said. “He’s going to get the best out of his players and I think the number one asset that a coach gives the players is ‘How am I going to improve? How is our group going to improve and how is our team going to improve?’
“Joe will continuously educate and teach and demand that his team will get better on a daily basis. The guy’s a tireless worker. He’s a very committed individual to his family and to the profession of coaching and I feel very confident he’ll be very successful in Miami.”
Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith remembers what it was like in his first year on the job back in 2008, which just so happened to be the year he won NFL Coach of the Year. There were a lot of adjustments he had to make, specifically regarding his time management and learning how to delegate to his assistant coaches. That was the most important lesson he learned.
So assembling the kind of staff Philbin has assembled, with seasoned veterans like offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle and wide receivers coach Ken O’Keefe, is something Smith believes was the smartest move. Having the right supports staff is something he believes is crucial for a head coach and that’s the advice he’d give Philbin is to use all of his resources.
“I believe there are a lot more unsuccessful staffs than there are unsuccessful head coaches,” said Smith, who has led the Falcons to the playoffs in three of his four seasons. “I really do believe that. I think it’s important that you put together a staff that has very defined roles and once those roles are defined they go out there and execute them.
“His makeup I think is very conducive to being a good head coach. I think the one thing that you have to be able to do as a head coach, you’ve got to make sure that you can keep a level head and anytime that I’ve been around Joe Philbin you can see that he is very goal oriented and has a focus about him. He’ll be very successful in Miami.”
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid had his first interaction with Philbin this week at The Breakers, but he reiterated how much Philbin’s reputation has preceded him.
“I know Mike Sherman very well and Mike was his high school coach. Mike hired him and now he’s hired Mike,” Reid said. “Listen, I have heard nothing but great things about him. You can’t say that about everybody in the National Football League. He is from what I’ve been told a phenomenal person, phenomenal person.”
McCarthy harped on that side of Philbin more than what he brought to the table as a coach simply because the two go hand in hand. He trusted Philbin to run the assistant coaches meetings for him and to implement the offensive game plan each week because of his demeanor and his ability to act as a teacher.
Of course McCarthy is aware that the Packers, coming off of a 15-1 season, will still miss having Philbin on his staff, but it’s the person that will be missed more in Green Bay.
“Coaching’s coaching so anytime you lose a good coach I think it’s natural to think you may take a step back, but the reality is it gives opportunities for other guys on your staff to step up and grow,” McCarthy said. “We’ve been planning for guys such as Joe to move on. Frankly, the biggest loss in Joe Philbin is more from a personal nature and the fit and the chemistry that we established as a staff, so that’s where Joe will be missed. He’s an excellent teacher. I know the players enjoy playing for him.”
Soon enough, the Dolphins players will get their chance to learn about what kind of coach Philbin will be to play for.