Philbin Pleased As Offseason Program Commences

Posted Apr 22, 2014

During an appearance with The Finsiders, Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin addressed the beginning of the team's offseason program, the new additions to the roster and a variety of other topics.

The start of the offseason conditioning program represents a chance for Miami Dolphins players to get reacquainted as they begin building toward the 2014 season. For Head Coach Joe Philbin and his staff, it also means a chance to do some teaching.

The Dolphins, along with every NFL team with a returning head coach, got things started on Monday with phase one of the conditioning program, a step that includes weightlifting, rehabilitation and classroom work.

“The new CBA has kind of a nice structure to the offseason program,” Philbin said Tuesday when he appeared on The Finsiders. “Right now, each phase has its own particular objective. We’re in phase one right now. Phase one is strength and conditioning and, really, classroom instruction. That’s really what we’re focusing on. Today our guys devoted about two hours in the weight room and then we had a lot of classroom work done. I was in the special teams meeting. We went over a lot of things from last year.

“One of the big things in improving is our coaching staff spent a lot of time looking at the tape from a year ago from a schematic perspective fundamentally, so now we’re going over some of that with the players in a fashion where we’re not rushed by a game plan and we can really go over there and teach. I think it’s off to a great start.”

Philbin said he has been pleased not only by the participation he has seen at the conditioning program, but also by the commitment shown by the players even before then.

“The guys are excited,” Philbin said. “We’ve had outstanding participation by our guys. It’s only two days into it. It’s kind of like the first day of school. Everybody loves seeing their old buddies and getting re-acclimated to football. I told the team in our first team meeting, we also had outstanding participation before the offseason program even started. This is a great place to live as we all know and we all enjoy living here, so our guys were around a lot, doing things together, working out together. This is an extension of that. So far so good.”

For his part, Philbin showed off his sense of humor when he talked about his “wild vacation” in the offseason.

“I had kind of, I guess for me, a wild vacation,” Philbin said. “I went to see my parents after the combine. My dad is 92 and my mother is 84, so we stayed up after 9 o’clock one night (laughing). That was crazy. It’s been busy, but one of my sons is a senior in high school, so we kind of took a college trip and looked at that and those type of things. But the demands of coaching in the National Football League are such that when you have some time and you can spend it with your family, that’s the best way to do it.”

Philbin now is focused on the Dolphins and helping the team get back to the playoffs in 2014.

The Dolphins head coach talked about the team’s veteran acquisitions, a list that includes Branden Albert, Knowshon Moreno, Louis Delmas, Earl Mitchell, Shelley Smith and Cortland Finnegan, while praising the work of new general manager Dennis Hickey.

Said Philbin,: “I think Dennis and his staff did a great job identifying, as we like to call it, Dolphins-type players, guys that fit the criteria that we’re looking for, both from a positional standpoint, whether it’s size or speed or experience, and also from a character standpoint and how they play on tape.”

But it’s not just the newcomers who could make the Dolphins better in 2014. Philbin also is expecting improvement from his returning players.

At the top of the list are the members of the Dolphins’ 2013 draft class, and Philbin specifically talked on The Finsiders about defensive end Dion Jordan and offensive lineman Dallas Thomas.

“Two words: growth and development. Those are what I think of when I think of this particular player,” Philbin said about Jordan. “Again, he’s a guy that came in a couple of weeks ago, he’s been here, he’s getting himself ready to go. He’s off to a very, very good start. We’ve got to get him, just like the rest of our defensive players, up to speed on the particular fundamentals that he’s going to using at his position, which were a little bit new for him last year.

“Dallas Thomas is a guy that has been working extremely hard in the offseason. He’s another player that didn’t have a, quote, typical rookie offseason last year.”

Other topics Philbin touched on during his appearance on The Finsiders:

• The chemistry between Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace: “I think it made strides last year throughout the course of the season. We want Ryan and our quarterbacks to have a great rapport with all the receivers. Our opinion here is the passing game is really all about timing, rhythm, anticipation and that trust factor that the quarterback knows that right as he’s about to let that ball go, he’s got to have a lot of confidence that that receiver is going to be 15 yards deep, 3 yards outside the numbers if you’re running an out-breaking route. There’s a lot of coordination that’s involved in that, there’s timing. It’s a process. We feel like we’re going to see greater dividends this year.”

• The linebacker corps: “One thing we’ve stressed to the entire unit, and the linebackers in particular, we need some more game-changing plays. We were in 10 one-possession games last year. That, I believe, was tied for the most in the NFL and we were 6-4 in those. But it’s tough to go 9-1 in those games. We’ve got to have a couple more plays that really turn the tide faster from a defensive perspective and then obviously we’ve got to score more points on offense. But that’s one of the things that unit, the linebackers – , we’re looking for a couple more game-changing plays.”

• His working relationship with Dennis Hickey: “Every step of the way he’s earned additional responsibilities based on his work ethic and the type of individual that he is. It’s gone very, very well. He’s a real class guy and he’s a real credit to the organization.”

• Knowshon Moreno’s all-around ability at running back: “That’s one of the things we liked about him. He’s an all-around back, versatility, call it what you will. As we all know in today’s NFL, if you only have one running back in the backfield, that defense is going to study that jersey number, so if you have a back line up there that can run the football effectively, catch the ball when it’s thrown to him, pick up a blitz, that gets the advantage back to the offense. That’s the one thing that attracted Dennis and the staff was Knowshon has that versatility. He has a multiple skill set, as we like to say.”
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