Flashback to 2011. The Miami Dolphins have just fired Tony Sparano after a week 14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, when the team was 4-9. In came secondary coach Todd Bowles, who served as interim coach for the remainder of the season. Bowles led the team to a 2-1 finish to the year, including big wins over the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills, and a close 27-24 loss to the New England Patriots.
That offseason, Todd Bowles left Miami to become the secondary and interim defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles. After that year, he served as the defensive coordinator for what was a menacing and dominating Arizona Cardinals defense for two seasons. Now, he is the head coach for the New York Jets and off to quick 2-1 start.
This Sunday, Todd Bowles will come full circle and face off against the team that didn’t keep him within the organization following his 2-1 start. While there were no hard feelings at the time, the Miami Dolphins decided to go with an offensive coordinator as their head coach over the defensive-minded Todd Bowles. As you know, that coach’s name was Joe Philbin.
Looking back, I would’ve said the Miami Dolphins made the right choice in selecting Philbin at the time. The offensive had struggled following the decline of the wildcat, and the team desperately needed a west coast system in what was becoming a pass happy league. However, three and one fourth years have passed, and Todd Bowles is now the coach of the New York Jets, an organization on the rise. The Miami Dolphins, still under coach Joe Philbin, are very much on the decline and facing the reality of starting over from scratch (again).
I am not saying it would have made sense for the Miami Dolphins to make Todd Bowles, who was three years less experienced at the time, their head coach. That would have been a reach. However, the team could have done everything in their power to keep Bowles, or even make him the team’s defensive coordinator. Instead, they let him walk, and now Bowles is enjoying the fruits of his labor with a loaded Jets defensive roster.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins defensive is on the verge of finishing the year in the bottom ten, despite having talent across the board. Talent that a defensive-minded head coach, not unlike Todd Bowles, would have done wonders with. Instead, the Dolphins get Kevin Coyle and Joe Philbin, and this defense continues to get blown out by middle-tier offenses like the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars.
I am not saying the Dolphins can’t win on Sunday against the Jets. But one thing is for certain. Todd Bowles will enter this game with a chip on his shoulder and more than a few blitz schemes designated to put Ryan Tannehill on the ground.
And like Joe Philbin on the sidelines, all we as Miami Dolphins fans will be able to do is watch.
Until Joe Philbin is gone.
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