- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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It has been a full 24 hours of Aaron Hernandez and New England Patriots coverage in the AFC East blog. It's not every day that a star player in the division gets charged with murder and faces five additional gun charges. Hernandez will continue to garner plenty of headlines as the legal system runs its course. But we also want to shift gears, to some degree, and get back to the other teams in the division.
One story that was overlooked this week was ESPN's Herm Edwards ranking Joe Philbin of the Miami Dolphins among his top up-and-coming head coaches. Edwards is a former head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets, so his opinion carries weight.
As a Miami resident, I spend a lot of time with the Dolphins and have been impressed with how Philbin goes about his business. He has an even-keeled demeanor and a sly sense of humor that works well in the NFL. Philbin also went 7-9 last year with a rebuilding Dolphins team, and his game-day decisions were mostly solid in his first season.
But similar to NFL players, Philbin has to prove that his first season was not a fluke. He's in a very good position to avoid a sophomore slump. The Dolphins spent more than $200 million in free agency, which included $117 in guaranteed money. The team Philbin has in Year 2 is more talented, more athletic and more versatile than his 2012 group.
Expectations are higher this year in Miami, and the bar also has been raised for Philbin. His 7-9 record was a pleasant surprise last season. But in 2013, Philbin must prove that he can do better and finish with a winning record with more talent at his disposal.