The Miami Dolphins almost overcame multiple locker room distractions in 2013 to make the playoffs, and it was obvious that the lack of leadership in the locker room and the behavior of Richie Incognito steered them off course. So it's not surprising that coaches around the league are pointing to the Dolphins situation as what not to do.
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was speaking during the NFL owners meetings when he said the Dolphins bullying situation really shows the importance of having quality leadership in a locker room.
“The thing I thought was interesting is Jake Long,” Lewis said, via Pro Football Talk. “When he was a Miami Dolphin he was in charge, and so that didn’t go on to that extent. And so I think you have to have leadership in place throughout your team that understands, our focus here is to win football games, our focus is, if that’s our starting tackle, to have him feel as good about himself as he can feel every day. Because that’s a big strong man who has to block big strong men. And so you certainly don’t want to tear him down and expect him to go battle with us on Sunday — it just doesn’t work.”
Once Long left, the leadership council included Incognito and Mike Pouncey -- two men who were named as instigators in the Jonathan Martin bullying incident in the Ted Wells Report.
The lack of leadership in Miami was clear and the situation would have never escalated to the level that it did if the team had been held accountable, so it is great to hear that Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin is expected to be more visible in the team's locker room moving forward.
"As I examine ways that as the head coach of Dolphins that I can do better, I think the visibility factor can be a difference," Philbin said Tuesday morning, via USA Today. "That's one of the things that I'm going to do better. It's not that I've never been, but I think what happens a lot of times with coaches is you're conflicted like, 'Should I watch this blitz tape or I've got to get that third-down film watched?'
"Sometimes it's a better use of head coach's time to walk through the training room, walk through the locker room, walk through the hallways. It's not to say I've never done that stuff, but I think it's fair to say that I'm going to do it more."
If Philbin is more present and holds his players accountable, then they may be able to work together and play as more of a team rather than a group of individuals.
The player who could benefit most is quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has had no help from his offensive line. Philbin is saying all of the right things this offseason, but let's see if he actually follows through with his words when OTAs and training camps kick off. Let's see if he gives the Dolphins the leadership they need as they attempt to make the postseason.