Philbin: ‘You learn, you adjust, you adapt’

For former Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, things are looking up in Miami after last year's bullying scandal. (Brad Barr/USA TODAY)

Eleven months ago, the Miami Dolphins were steeped in turmoil with a bullying scandal that not only shook the league but made headlines far outside of sporting circles.

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, who left Green Bay following the 2011 season after a five-year run as the Packers’ offensive coordinator, survived the controversy and has led the Dolphins to a 2-2 record entering Sunday’s game against Green Bay.

“You always want to learn,” Philbin told Packers beat reporters during a conference call on Wednesday. “I tell the players all the time, one of the fun things about coaching – I’m 53 years old. If I felt like I had all the answers, it wouldn’t be as much fun coming to work every day. So you learn and you adjust and you adapt. Like I said, I think one of the biggest things I’ve learned from being a head coach; when you move from a coordinator, you can’t spend all the time on the pure football side of things that you might like to. I think that’s one of the things that maybe last year taught me is while you certainly want to know what the other team is doing and you want to be involved from a football standpoint, there are other things that sometimes require more of your time than perhaps I was used to giving. I hope to be a better coach next year than I am this year. You just keep learning and growing and developing.”

Not surprisingly to people who worked alongside Philbin during his time in Green Bay, he mostly was cleared of blame in the NFL investigation conducted by Ted Wells.

“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,” the report said, backing up Philbin’s assertion that he knew nothing about the bullying until he was alerted by offensive line coach Jim Turner that the player who was being bullied, offensive tackle Jonathan Martin, had been having suicidal thoughts.

After the release of the Wells report, Philbin fired Turner and head trainer Kevin O’Neill. Offensive lineman Richie Incognito, who was at the heart of the scandal, and fellow linemen John Jerry, who had a lesser role, weren’t retained in free agency. Martin was traded to San Francisco.

In his third season, Philbin has a 19-21 record with Miami. He remains close to Packers coach Mike McCarthy and highly regarded by McCarthy and many of his players. Philbin said McCarthy's advice has been to "stick to his guns" and "do the things you believe in."

"I think the world of Mike – not just as a football coach but he’s just a class human being, he’s a great family man," Philbin said. "He does a great job with the team. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without him. He’s a guy that we certainly still reference and I certainly call him about some questions that I’ve had over the course of a couple years."

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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