DAVIE (CBSMiami) – While Miami Dolphins players and at least one coach were highly criticized in the Ted Wells report on the harassment by teammates, one person who escaped much blame from Wells was head coach Joe Philbin. But that doesn’t mean Philbin has escaped the tarnish of the scandal.
According to Wells’ report, “We find that head coach Joe Philbin was not aware of the mistreatment of Martin, Player A or the Assistant Trainer….We are convinced that had Coach Philbin learned of the underlying misconduct, he would have intervened promptly to ensure that martin and others were treated with dignity.”
Still, the overarching theme from national commentators and ex-NFL players is similar to the criticism New Jersey Governor Chris Christie received from his Bridgegate scandal. If Philbin did know of the situation, it’s bad. If he didn’t know what was going on his own team, it’s bad because it paints him as incompetent and allowing his staff/team to run wild.
“I’m left with this conclusion about the Dolphins organization from the coaching staff on down: They were either complicit, incompetent, or both,” said ESPN’s Mark Schlereth.
“I thought the Wells report went too easy on Philbin, saying he was unaware of the plight of Jonathan Martin, an unidentified player (now known to be Andrew McDonald), and an assistant trainer, all of whom were being harassed,” said SI.com’s Peter King. “How can Philbin have been in that building 15 hours a day, at least, and not known anything?”
King continued, “I do understand he asked (offensive line coach) Jim Turner about what was going on with his players, and Turner told him everything was fine. But what caused Philbin to ask Turner? Obviously his antennae were up. Philbin, whom I find to be a good man, still should know better, and this had better be a very good lesson for him, or his time in the head coach’s chair is going to be short.”
CBSSports’ Shannon Sharpe was even more critical saying Philbin should have known what was happening on the field and in his locker room and that “he (Philbin) needs to go away for a minimum of three to six games.”
Bleacher Report’s NFL writer, Mike Freeman, said it’s possible Philbin could be fired for the matter, but he didn’t think that would happen. As to Philbin’s claims of ignorance about what was going on in the locker room with his players, Freeman was more critical.
“I spoke to an AFC coach about this and the belief is that he (Philbin) knew,” Freeman said. “They find it impossible how he could not know because the offensive line coach (Jim Turner) was so involved in all of this. They just don’t find Philbin to be credible that he didn’t know and in some ways it’s worse that he didn’t know. It shows he had no pulse on the locker room and you’re kind of this aloof guy.”
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is very fond of Philbin and repeatedly said he will not be firing Ross and neither will new general manager Dennis Hickey, at least right now. Much of what will happen to the staff will come from the National Football League.
The league will likely hand out fines and suspensions to coaches, players, and possibly the Dolphins organization as a whole in the wake of the Wells Report. When that happens though is yet to be seen.