For me, there was one real takeaway from the Miami Dolphins' dismantling of the Tennessee Titans in Nashville this past Sunday. It can be summed up by the following phrase: It's truly amazing how different a team looks when it is playing for their coach. The Miami Dolphins looked like a team that was inspired and passionate about their head coach for the first time really in four seasons.
Not once did I see this team this fired up or play with this much passion or emotion in all of Joe Philbin's tenure. And to me, that is the absolutely essential thing that a head coach must inspire in his team. And it is precisely why Dan Campbell was the perfect choice to take over for the emotionless Joe Philbin. Campbell's passion, among other things, is one of the main differences between the interim coach and former head coach Joe Philbin.
In addition to his immense passion and intensity, Dan Campbell coached for his players and the Dolphins organization on Sunday. Look at the image that I included with this story. What do you see? It's Dan Campbell congratulating runningback Lamar Miller following his TD run, part of the 38-10 beat down the Dolphins put on the Titans. Campbell is meeting Miller on the field to say good job, something Joe Philbin never did as head coach.
Some analysts have pinned Cameron Wake's league-leading four sack performance on Sunday as a result of his rest following the bye week. I don't think so.
This was a result of Cameron Wake playing passionate football. He took zero downs off. He had a full motor the entirety of the game, and it is become Dan Campbell demanded that he do so. Campbell, unlike Philbin, doesn't settle for mediocrity or inconsistency. He's going to get in the face of his players and scream at them if he doesn't think they are trying. Or else, he will bench them.
This common thread of playing for Campbell was evident in Billy Turner. Check out the play below.
When was the last time we saw someone on the offensive line besides Mike Pouncey getting aggressive and blocking downfield? Billy Turner played a fantastc game, and it was because he was inspired to do so. Campbell saw something in Turner that Philbin didn't, and Turner came out and held his own against one of the league's most underrated defensive lines. The result? Miami rushed for over 100 yards as a team. And this frequently criticized offensive line dominated.
What exactly have we learned from the differences between Philbin and Campbell?
For one, the Miami Dolphins showed just how important coaching was on Sunday. Did Campbell have his mistakes? Absolutely. He made an interesting time out call before a chip shot field goal for Andrew Franks. But that being said, he made up for his rookie coaching mistakes by inspiring his players. And that is something that can't be measured, except in the Win Loss column.
Campbell also showed that winning coaches in the NFL win with what they've got. That is something that Bill Belichick has lived by since his time in the league. He develops players. Campbell took "mediocre" players, guys like Billy Turner, Rishard Matthews (who is anything BUT average), and Kelvin Sheppard and made them look like pro-bowlers.
With passion, intensity and because he demanded they play this way.
I am by no means saying Dan Campbell is the permanent answer at head coach for the Miami Dolphins. Of course, he has a long way to go and a lot to learn.
But there is almost no doubt that if Campbell began the year as the head coach, the Dolphins would have beaten the Jacksonville Jaguars and at least shown up against the Buffalo Bills and NY Jets. The Dolphins may continue to lose games, but you better believe that under Dan Campbell they are going to compete.
And that is all we as Dolphins fans can ask for at this point in the season.