The NFL is an unforgiving business and Monday was another tough day at the office at multiple league outposts.
In Green Bay, the new interim head coach held his first press conference. He succeeds Mike McCarthy who was fired in his 13th season after leading the Packers to the NFC North title six times, into the playoffs nine times, and to a Super Bowl title in 2010.
The name of this interim coach? Joe Philbin …
…Who never took the Dolphins to the playoffs during his coaching tenure in Miami. Who never had a winning season in Miami. Who never proved himself to be a leader in Miami.
And in discussing Green Bay’s looming coach search after the season, Packers president Mark Murphy said one of the candidates who has a chance to be considered after this season is … Philbin.
In Charlotte, the Panthers are reeling, having lost four consecutive games. So head coach Ron Rivera fired defensive line coach Brady Hoke and secondary coach Jeff Imamura, while also demoting defensive coordinator Eric Washington.
This after a game in which quarterback Cam Newton threw four interceptions. The start QB throwing interceptions, by the way, is not the defensive coordinator’s fault.
The New York Jets are licking their wounds after six consecutive losses, while the Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals have lost four in a row. Todd Bowles, Marvin Lewis, and Dan Quinn — all outstanding defensive coaches — may lose their jobs after the season if not before.
And that speaks nothing of the turmoil in Cleveland and Jacksonville, and the uncertainty and general fan displeasure in Arizona, Oakland, San Francisco and Detroit.
It’s ugly out there, folks.
And here in South Florida we are generally frustrated about a team playing .500 football and still in the hunt for a playoff spot.
From a perspective standpoint, Dolphins fans are those folks complaining about the traffic because they have to drive their BMW at 55 MPH.
(I drive a BMW now after owning Corvettes for years. And I don’t complain about traffic, like, ever!!!)
The point here is this Dolphins season has not been as terrible as it has felt, warts and all. It’s been tough at times. It has shown a flawed team’s weaknesses time and again.
It has admittedly been an experience that should have tested your patience. Indeed, this organization, at an amazing 198-198 since 1994, could have tested Job’s patience with all the middling football it has played for 25 seasons.
But middle of the road this year with Ryan Tannehill playing at his usual level except for those five games we witnessed Brock Osweiler is not as bad as … Joe Philbin being named interim head coach of a team Aaron Rodgers plays for.
And I get what some of you are going to do now. You’re going to use my own past argument against me about good being the enemy of great. A team that is not catastrophically putrid, but rather is mediocre, is not going to get a huge opportunity to jump to greatness with high draft picks and a fresh start next offseason.
I know. I understand this point.
Mediocre brings with it its own annoyances without any promised relief in heavy doses.
But, the truth is, neither is your team’s starting point at the bottom of a heap.
So there’s that small positive.
I’m not saying you have to embrace it. But you have no choice but to accept it because that’s the situation. This is where the Dolphins are.
The 2018 Miami Dolphins will be deciding the direction of their season the next week or two.
Miami plays the New England Patriots on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium. And the Patriots this season have proven themselves beatable on the road with their 3-3 record. Throw in the fact the Dolphins have beaten the Patriots four of the past five times the two played in South Florida and it suggests the home team will have a chance.
Some of you will hate that.
Some of you want your team to collapse.
To tank, if necessary.
Some of you want a total overhaul for next year so you’re playing the long game. You’re willing to suffer pain now, this season, for the possibility of glory some day in the future.
Well, today’s Dolphins don’t care what you think. They want to win now. They want to keep their jobs. They want to come back next year and keep striving for something better.
That applies to players, coaches, front office, everyone.
In that sense, this is a weird situation. Typically a nation of fans wants their team to win every week, no matter what. Typically there’s consensus in that goal.
I don’t sense that agreement among all Dolphins fans now.
So let’s agree on this instead: Dolphins fans are all happy for former coach Joe Philbin, who has another chance to be the leader of an organization.
Because it’s some other organization.