Joe Philbin is returning in 2015 as the Miami Dolphins Head Coach. Returning along with Philbin, are Defensive Coordinator Kevin Coyle, Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor and 2nd year General Manager Dennis Hickey. Miami Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross, explained when he made the announcement of Philbin's return, that he was trying to promote consistency, team stability and direction. The Ross decision to retain Joe Philbin for the 2015 NFL season, met with a high degree of controversy among Dolphin fans. DC Kevin Coyle's return for the upcoming season, also met with disapproval from the fan base and only the returns of Lazor and Hickey received widespread acceptance among the fans. Stephen Ross has also hired Mike Tannebaum as the Executive Vice President of football.
Soon after the Miami Dolphins played their last game of the 2014 season, Stephen Ross said that Joe Philbin would be back as the Phins head coach for a fourth year. Philbin, in his career as head coach for Miami, has finished all 3 season of his young head coaching career, no better than 8-8, and for the second year, Philbin's team has failed to win the last 2 games of the season raising questions about the coach's ability to motivate his players. The Dolphins only needed to win one of their last two games, in the 2013 season, in order to get into the playoffs, and failed to win the home games against mediocre teams.
Kevin Coyle's return to the team next year, was not welcomed by a lot of fans, much like Joe Philbin's. The Dolphins' defense, which had opened the year as one of the top defenses in the NFL, had virtually collapsed by the last quarter of the season. Injuries to key players however, may have had more to do with the struggles of the defense than Coyle's coaching ability. Injuries were also a factor for the offense, however, in spite of these injuries, the offense managed to remain functional enough to score points and stay reasonably competitive until the last few games of the season, although the number of Quarterback sacks allowed increased after the injuries. The ability of Miami's offense to adapt after losing left tackle Branden Albert for the season, is testimonial to returning second year Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor's schemes and play designs. Lazor was a difference maker in the 2014 campaign, designing plays around the team's weaknesses while maximizing players' strengths. The result of Lazor's hiring was sufficiently evident throughout the season. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill enjoyed a higher Quarterback rating, total yards and completion rate, than any other former Miami Quarterback since Dan Marino.
Dolphins' General Manager Dennis Hickey had a solid debut last season, when as his first signing, he offered Miami's free agent corner Brent Grimes a new long term contract. Fans cheered, because in marked contrast with his predecessor, Hickey prioritized securing essential players like the Pro Bowler Grimes. The signing of the Chief's free agent left tackle Brandon Albert, free agents Cortland Finnegan and Louis Delmas soon followed, and the fan base was aboard the Hickey wagon. The first player Miami selected from the 2014 NFL draft, was right tackle Ja'Wuan James. This move was not the most popular one among the fan base, but the reality was that with dire offensive line needs and James trending up in the rankings, the Tennessee Vol tackle would not have been available for the Dolphins at 19. Later rounds of the draft, saw Miami pick and handful of players from small schools and that and some of the free agents Hickey signed after Finnegan and Delmas, caused a few fans off the Hickey train.
When the Miami Dolphins take the practice field for the first time in 2015, the team will have virtually the same coaching staff less a few assistants on defense. There will also be a new face in the front office, as Stephen Ross hired the New York Jets' former GM Mike Tannebaum, as the Dolphins' new executive vice president of football operations, a few days after Miami's last game of the year. Tannebaum has said, at least publicly, that Hickey's role remains unchanged, but as moves in the off-season go, so will the story about true changes coming to the Dolphins for 2015.