Joe Philbin survived sweeping changes in the Miami Dolphins organization prompted by mediocre results and an investigation into the workplace environment at the Davie, Fla., facility.
"I have to do a better job," Philbin said in the first press conference of the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday morning at Lucas Oil Stadium. "I'm going to be more visible. I'm going to have a better pulse."
The Dolphins are in constant contact with the NFL regarding potential punishment for the team and any players under contract. Philbin would not comment on a report that he wanted to release Richie Incognito prior to last season or the specifics of any conversations with the veteran offensive lineman.
In light of the release of the independent investigation by Ted Wells -- finding Incognito, center Mike Pouncey and offensive guard John Jerry guilty of harassing Jonathan Martin and another player -- Philbin opened his media session with a four-minute statement of which the theme was accountability, asking that the ultimate blame for any fallout present and future rest with him.
Philbin said, "I remember the first day that I interviewed for the Miami Dolphins head coaching job with Steve Ross, we talked a lot about the type of program that I wanted to run in Miami. One of the things I told Steve was, it's important to me that any player that we have or any staff member, I wanted to create an atmosphere where their experience as a Miami Dolphins whether it was for three weeks, three months, 10 years, was the best professional experience they ever had.
"And if they left Miami and went to another organization or if they left and went to work for General Electric or Goldman Sachs or whatever great company in America, that they would look back on their time as a Miami Dolphin and say that organization was committed to helping me reach my full potential. That they committed the resources, the time and invested in the individuals to make us a great football team so they could look back and say they had a tremendous experience.
"Any time that isn't accomplished, anytime one of our players or staff members has an experience contrary to that, it requires my attention, it needs to be corrected, it needs to be looked at, it needs to be fixed."
Philbin said owner Stephen Ross reached out to Martin and that a meeting is expected in the future. The coach said he did not reach out to Martin following their initial meeting in November, at which time he put Martin in contact with medical professionals.
Philbin finished 8-8 in his second season with the Dolphins, the fifth consecutive out of the playoffs for the franchise. He was interviewed by Wells on Nov. 18 and said that he was aware of "most of the details" of the report before it was released.
"Some of the facts, the behavior, the language, the facts outlined in the report. It's inappropriate. And unacceptable," he said.
The Dolphins agreed to a "mutual parting of ways" with general manager Jeff Ireland in January. Offensive line coach Jim Turner and head athletic trainer Kevin O'Neill were fired Wednesday.
"We're going to do things about it," Philbin said. "We're going to have a better workplace. I promise you that. We're going to make changes."
Some of the reminders will be more subtle. There is a message board at the main exit of the facility that reads "24-7, 365" a reminder that "everything they do impacts me," Philbin said.
"I don't have the benefit to look back," Philbin said. "There is a common decency that people need to have toward one another and when that is violated, it's an issue. Had I known and intervened quicker, maybe it wouldn't have happened."
--The Dolphins promoted John Benton to offensive line coach and Jack Bicknell Jr. was named assistant offensive line coach on.
"With the promotion of John Benton, along with the addition of Jack Bicknell Jr., we have two experienced football coaches who have an impressive history working with and developing quality offensive line units," coach Joe Philbin said in a statement. "They are both excellent teachers and are highly respected within the coaching community. Both coaches will be great assets to the Miami Dolphins organization."
Benton joined the Dolphins as assistant offensive line coach on Jan. 29. He brings 27 years of coaching experience, which includes 17 years in the college ranks and 10 seasons as an NFL assistant, including the last eight seasons as the Houston Texans offensive line coach.
Bicknell spent the 2013 season as the offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Prior to joining the Steelers, Bicknell served as the offensive line coach for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012. Bicknell began his NFL coaching career with the New York Giants from 2009-11.
Benton replaces Jim Turner, who was fired for his involvement in the investigation of the team's workplace environment.
--Former Dolphins offensive lineman Andrew McDonald confirmed that he is Player A in the Ted Wells report on the Miami Dolphins' workplace harassment scandal but expressed no lingering hard feelings toward the team.
McDonald, a 6-foot-6, 310-pound undrafted free agent from Indiana, was a member of the Dolphins' practice squad in 2012 who now plays for the Carolina Panthers. It was assumed after the report came out that McDonald was the unidentified player.
"Andrew is disappointed that his name has become associated with this story," his agent, Brett Tessler, said. "He's been a member of another organization since last season and is trying to focus on the future. When Ted Wells approached Andrew at the end of the investigation, Mr. Wells already had all the information contained in the report that he had gotten elsewhere.
"While Andrew can't speak for any other players involved in the report, he personally has no problem with the Miami Dolphins organization and has the highest opinion of (offensive line) Coach (Jim) Turner both personally and professionally and feels terrible about the way their relationship has been portrayed in the report."
The report indicated that three Dolphins players -- offensive linemen Richie Incognito, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey -- harassed former offensive lineman and teammate Jonathan Martin, an assistant trainer and the unnamed player, which is McDonald.
Wells determined that McDonald was "frequently was subjected to homophobic name-calling and improper physical touching." The report also stated that Turner gave McDonald a male "blow-up" doll as a Christmas gift in 2012 when the other offensive linemen received female "blow-up" dolls, but McDonald did not protest because he was a young player.
McDonald spent two seasons on the Dolphins' practice squad before he was cut in August. He signed with Carolina's practice squad in October.
Martin made his first public comment on Saturday after the release of the report, saying on Twitter, "Focus on the positive. Life is a gift, don't ever forget that #BeGreat."
Incognito also responded Friday night on Twitter with "You could not define me in 144 years let alone 144 pages Mr Wells. Thank you for your hard work and dedication," followed by "Goodbye twitter. Be well. See you on the other side." His account has since been deleted.
--General manager Dennis Hickey didn't expound on some of the Dolphins' top free agents, including cornerback Brent Grimes and defensive tackles Paul Soliai and Randy Starks. There's a thought Grimes could get the franchise tag and either Soliai or Starks re-signs, but not both.
I'm not going to get into specifics of our strategic plan just from a competitive standpoint," Hickey said. "With our current plans, future plans with specific players, I'm not going to get into specifics there."
--The Dolphins need to upgrade at running back, where both Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas proved inadequate last season. But Hickey didn't reveal his offseason strategy for upgrading the position.
"Everything works in concert," he said. "It's not just one position, the running game or passing game. There's 11 guys working together to accomplish that goal so it rarely is just on one person at one position on that."
Hickey said he doesn't think the bullying scandal and Wells report will dissuade free agents from signing with Miami.
"I think free agents are going to be attracted to who we are because we have an excellent coaching staff, we live in Miami, that's pretty strong, we have a committed owner that will allocate the resources necessary, and we have an environment, a collective strong environment," Hickey said.
--Notre Dame guard/tackle Zack Martin said he'd have no problem joining the Miami Dolphins or being a part of their line, even after the bullying scandal.
"I tell people I'm just looking for a job so any team that's willing to take me I'm very excited to go and hear my name called," he said. "At the end of the day I'm just looking forward to landing on a team."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Steve Ross is the one that does the hiring for the Miami Dolphins. That's a question you should ask him." - Dolphins coach Joe Philbin after being asked if he feels fortunate he still has a job.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--Cornerback Brent Grimes signed a four-year contract to stay with the Dolphins.
"I am thrilled that we have been able to reach an agreement with Brent to keep him as a member of the Miami Dolphins," said Dennis Hickey, the Dolphins' rookie general manager. "Brent is a two-time Pro Bowler who has been a valuable piece to our organization as a player on the field, a leader in the locker room as well off the field in the South Florida community."
Grimes signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Dolphins last season. He was designated the franchise player of the Atlanta Falcons in February 2012 but played in only one game.
He tore an Achilles tendon in the 2012 season opener, when he made $10 million on a one-year deal.
Grimes was a Pro Bowler in 2010 and has 17 interceptions during his seven-year career.
FREE AGENT UPDATE
Scheduled to be unrestricted in March
--CB Nolan Carroll
--RT Tyson Clabo
--S Chris Clemons
--LG Richie Incognito
--RG John Jerry
--TE Dustin Keller
--WR Marlon Moore
--DT Paul Soliai
--LB Austin Spitler
--DT Randy Starks
OFFENSIVE LINE: The Dolphins allowed a franchise-worst 58 sacks. They'll need to replace at least three positions: right tackle, left tackle and left guard.
RUNNING BACK: Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas were inadequate. Miami needs a runner who can gain yards on his own and be dynamic.
DEFENSIVE BACK: Help is needed at cornerback and safety. Three starters are unrestricted free agents. Play-making is a requirement.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Joe Philbin
- Miami Dolphins
- Jonathan Martin
- offensive line coach