Even though the Dolphins-Patriots rivalry isn’t quite as intense as the Dolphins-Jets and Dolphins-Bills rivalries, that doesn’t mean there still isn’t a certain level of intensity.
For Head Coach Joe Philbin and four members of his staff, they will have to temporarily have to forget their coaching and playing heritage.
Philbin, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, offensive line coach Jim Turner, wide receivers coach Ken O’Keefe and assistant strength and conditioning coach Dave Puloka all have Massachusetts ties. Puloka played at Arlington (Mass.) High School, Philbin grew up in Springfield and played for O’Keefe at Worcester Academy before going on to coach at Worcester Tech, Northeastern University and Harvard.
“I was fortunate that I used to drive by Harvard every single day going to work at Northeastern and so I cut my commute down about 10 minutes,'' Philbin said in a conference call Wednesday with the New England media. “Tim Murphy’s done a fantastic job there, as you guys know, excellent coach and the program that he has there. I really enjoyed that experience there as well.”
Sherman is a native of Norwood, Mass., and Turner grew up in Braintree, Mass., where he also coached his high school alma mater. He was at Northeastern the same time Philbin was and also coached at Harvard and Boston College.
PRACTICES TAKE ON COMPETITIVE NATURE
When asked what he does extra in order to challenge his players before a big game, Philbin didn’t waver when he pointed to the message he sends before each practice.
“We told them today that the most important thing they do is walk on that practice field,” he said. “The meetings are important. The weight room is important. The training room’s important. Mental preparation is important. But nothing is as important as the practice field in terms of us getting ready to play as well as we can possibly play, every single day in those regards.”
Philbin also expanded a little on the periods in practice he calls “Miami on Miami,” which is when he lets the offense and defense compete directly with each other in unscripted situations. These are in addition to the scout team looks he makes sure are taken care of in each practice.
“Like today, we did some red zone like that. Some days we’ll do pass skelly like that,” Philbin said. “Today, we did that. ‘Defense, hey you guys have three timeouts and you’ve got to get the ball back and you’ve got to stop the offense. Offense, we’ve got get a first down and run out the clock.’ Those type of things we usually do unscripted as we like to say.”
## Just when you thought the musical mix couldn’t get any stranger during warm-ups and stretching, ABBA made an appearance. The classic, “Dancing Queen,” got things going in a modern mix version. Then it was time for reggae as Damian Marley, son of the late legend Bob Marley, represented with “Welcome To Jamrock.”
## Only a whistle could slow down running back