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Monday, January 6, 2014
Sherman firing is warning shot to Philbin

By James Walker

MIAMI -- It's never a good sign when a coach has to fire key members of his staff. That is the situation Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin is facing after firing embattled offensive coordinator Mike Sherman on Monday.

This much is clear: This was a move Philbin did not want to make. Sherman is a very good friend and mentor of Philbin's. Just last week, Philbin went to bat for Sherman during his season-ending news conference.

"I have a lot of confidence in our staff, our offensive staff with Mike Sherman," Philbin said. "He's an excellent football coach, and that’s what I think."

But the NFL is a production business and Sherman did not produce. Miami's offense in 2013 was ranked 27th in the NFL and 26th in scoring at 19.8 points per game. Sherman often was too predictable and not balanced. The Dolphins abandoned the run quickly, and scoring seven total points in the final two games didn't help his case.

There was no way Philbin could defend Sherman to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who visited the facility last week and demanded answers. Someone had to take the fall for Miami's fifth straight non-winning season. Sherman was that person, although it probably was very tough for Philbin to carry out the owner's demands.

This also is a strong warning shot that 2014 could be a make-or-break year for Philbin. He is 15-17 in two seasons in Miami with zero playoff appearances. He's also an offensive coach with a bad offense. This must be fixed if Philbin is to last beyond next season.

The search for a new offensive coordinator officially is underway in Miami. This will be one of the most important decisions Philbin makes for his long-term security.

There are no more excuses offensively with Sherman out of the picture. Miami must score more points in 2014 and further develop quarterback Ryan Tannehill. If Philbin and Miami's next offensive coordinator cannot get those two things done, Philbin's job will be in jeopardy.