Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin watches the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Steven Senne
December 15, 2014

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) Joe Philbin arrived at work at 5:50 a.m. Monday, anxious to get the Miami Dolphins headed in the right direction.

He's running out of time. Consecutive dismal defeats have left the Dolphins all but eliminated from the playoffs with two games to go, and there's widespread speculation Philbin will be fired after three seasons as coach.

Predictably, Philbin deflected questions about his future and said he's only focused on the upcoming game Sunday against Minnesota.

''Right now what's relevant is getting our team to play up to their potential for 60 minutes against the Minnesota Vikings,'' Philbin said. ''That's really all that is important to me right now.''

A second December collapse in as many seasons might have sealed Philbin's fate with team owner Stephen Ross. The Dolphins (7-7) have been outscored 69-26 in losses the past two weeks to Minnesota and New England. The meltdown accelerated when Miami lost 41-13 Sunday after trailing the Patriots 14-13 at halftime.

Philbin said he spoke with Ross after the defeat.

''We just talked in general about the game,'' Philbin said. ''We were both disappointed. Players were disappointed. Coaches are disappointed. Owners are disappointed. I think that's understandable.''

Philbin said he expects to talk with Ross several times this week, as per usual.

In July, when Ross was asked if Philbin needed to make the playoffs to keep his job, Ross replied, ''Every year you want to see improvement.'' The Dolphins went 7-9 and 8-8 in Philbin's first two seasons, and haven't been to the playoffs since 2008.

Following Sunday's loss, players were vocal in endorsing Philbin, and said the late-season swoon was their fault. Philbin said he wasn't surprised to receive such support.

''I believe in the players. I have confidence in the players,'' Philbin said. ''We have an outstanding locker room. Our staff has an excellent working relationship with the players. It's a mutual thing.''

With games still to be played, Philbin's top assistants said they're not concerned about losing their jobs.

''We've all done this too many times to let those things affect us,'' first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said. ''We have to win the game this weekend.''

''I've never really worried about anything beyond the season until the season is over,'' third-year defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. ''I've been in different scenarios, both in the collegiate level and in the NFL, where there is uncertainty at the end of the season. You just go about your business to prepare the best you can. That's what your job description is - to get these players ready to play.''

The Dolphins appeared destined to end their playoff drought at midseason, when they were 5-3 and coming off a 37-0 victory over San Diego. But they haven't played well since. The defense is in full retreat, and the offense has sputtered since left tackle Branden Albert suffered a season-ending knee injury in Game 9.

Have the Dolphins underachieved?

''Part of my job is to get the team to play up to their potential each and every week,'' Philbin said. ''So to that degree, certainly I feel like we could do better.''

And he's well aware there's a crescendo in criticism of the head coach. Philbin's session with the media included a friendly dispute about a minor fact regarding Sunday's game. Shortly after the session ended and Philbin left the room, it was determined he had been correct.

The coach doubled back to the interview room and stuck his head through the doorway with a smile. He said, ''You can write: `Philbin's right about one thing. Maybe not a lot.'''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

---

Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve-Wine

You May Like