Sherman eager to help Philbin, Dolphins win title
As a high school English instructor, Mike Sherman taught
creative writing and explored novels such as ”Winesburg, Ohio”
with students who included his new boss, Miami Dolphins coach Joe
Now Sherman and Philbin are trying to develop a narrative that
might seem farfetched: taking the Dolphins to the Super Bowl.
Sherman, the Dolphins’ third offensive coordinator in as many
years, spoke publicly for the first time Thursday about his new
job. After being fired in December as head coach at Texas A&M,
he has reunited with Philbin, who became a first-time head coach
when the Dolphins hired him last month.
Their relationship goes back to 1980, when both were at
Worcester Academy in Worcester, Mass.
”Joe was very introspective, cerebral, always prepared, studied
hard,” Sherman said. ”I wouldn’t say I gave him an A in the
class. He might have gotten a B plus. I don’t know.”
Sherman’s first full-time coaching job was as offensive line
coach at Tulane in 1983, and he brought Philbin there as a graduate
assistant. They reunited again in 2003, when Sherman was the
Packers’ head coach and hired Philbin as assistant offensive line
It was Philbin’s first NFL job, and they worked together in
Green Bay for three seasons.
”He was an attention-to-detail coach,” Sherman said. ”His
work was always impeccable.”
Now Philbin will be in charge, and Sherman – 7 years older at 57
– is fine with that.
”I’ve always had a lot of respect for the chain of command,”
Sherman said. ”I want to see Joe be successful as a head coach. We
have the same goals.”
The primary objective, as set by owner Stephen Ross, is for
Miami to reach the Super Bowl for the first time since 1985. That
will require a significant turnaround, because the Dolphins have
endured three consecutive losing seasons for the first time since
the 1960s, including 6-10 last year.
Sherman went 57-39 at Green Bay but couldn’t deliver a title. He
said he chose the Dolphins over other job opportunities because he
believes there’s a good chance for success in Miami.
”Joe was adamant about the fact Mr. Ross wanted to win a Super
Bowl,” Sherman said. ”I don’t feel like I’m getting old, but my
wife tells me I am. I want that opportunity before it’s all over
me, whenever that is. He assured me Mr. Ross is very excited about
winning a Super Bowl, and he convinced me that is a top
”I’ve watched the tape. I don’t think we’re that far
New defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle also has ties with Philbin
that date to the 1980s, when they worked together at a Holy Cross
summer camp. Like Sherman, Coyle sees a strong foundation.
”There’s a lot of talent here on defense where we can be very
good very quickly,” Coyle said.
Coyle’s a first-time coordinator, but he has been in the NFL the
past 11 years, most recently as defensive backs coach for the
Bengals. He and Sherman have a combined 65 years of coaching
Coyle said the Dolphins will combine elements of 3-4 and 4-3
schemes. As for the offense, Sherman said the playbook will depend
on who’s on the roster.
”I promise you we will have a scheme that will utilize the
strengths of our players,” Sherman said. ”The guys who make plays
will be allowed to make plays.”
Philbin was most recently offensive coordinator for the Packers
and crafted their game plans, but Sherman expects to be calling the
”I believe I will,” he said. ”That may change. If the game is
good, then Joe did it. If the game is bad, then I did it.”