Why the Miami Dolphins had to fire Joe Philbin

There were many reasons why the Miami Dolphins ultimately decided to fire coach Joe Philbin.
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By Zach Kruse

After 28 losses in 52 games, including a blowout defeat in London in Week 4, the Miami Dolphins fired head coach Joe Philbin.

Hired by Miami in 2012 after a successful run as the Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator, Philbin failed to get the Dolphins over the hump — finishing 8-8 twice but never producing a winning record or playoff appearance.

Miami announced tight end coach Dan Campbell will take over as the interim head coach.

The Dolphins had precious few options after a team expected by many to compete for a playoff spot in 2015 started the season 1-3.

Here are a few reasons why Miami had to fire Philbin:

Last eight games: On Dec. 1 last year, the Dolphins were 7-5 and in the thick of the race for a wild card spot in the AFC. Since then, Miami has won just two of eight games. A 1-3 finish to end 2014 kept the Dolphins out of the postseason, and a 1-3 start to 2015 might torpedo this season. Of the six losses, five have come by 13 or more points — including back-to-back blowouts to AFC East rivals over the last two weeks.

Defensive downfalls: The Dolphins invested millions of dollars on defense and have almost nothing to show for it. Through four weeks, Miami ranks 18th in points allowed and 30th in yards. Despite facing quarterbacks Kirk Cousins, Blake Bortles, Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Fitzpatrick, the defense has just one sack and three takeaways. If a defense can’t handle that quartet of passers, big problems are on the horizon.

That said, quarterbacks haven’t been Miami’s biggest problem. The Dolphins currently rank last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, having given up 642 yards on the ground over the first four games. New York’s Chris Ivory ran over the Miami defense in London. Adding Ndamukong Suh has done very little for a front four that has fallen off the face of the earth.

Slow starts: Players play and coaches coach, but starting fast is typically a good barometer of how prepared a team is. The numbers don’t look good for Philbin. Miami has been outscored 37-3 in the first quarter in 2015. An over the last two games, the Dolphins have entered the halftime locker with deficits of 27-0 and 20-7. In fact, Miami has trailed at the half in every game this season. It’s hard to win in the NFL when playing from behind early and often.

Ryan TannehillThe steady progression of Miami’s franchise quarterback was supposed to continue in 2015. Through four games, it hasn’t. Tannehill is currently sitting on career lows in completion percentage (56.7), yards per attempt (6.3), QBR (32.1) and passer rating (77.1). The 27-year-old was downright awful in London, creating just 167 net passing yards on 44 attempts. He was intercepted twice and sacked three times. Miami finished with just 226 yards and zero third-down conversions on 12 tries. Pass protection remains a major issue. Tannehill is nothing more than a dink-and-dunker right now.

Dominated in the trenches: The root of almost every problem in Miami starts at the line of scrimmage, where the Dolphins have been relentlessly whooped. The Dolphins can’t run the football (31st in rushing yards), protect the passer (10 sacks allowed), stop the run (32nd in rushing yards allowed) or sack the opposing quarterback (one sack). Given the ridiculous one-sidedness in the trenches, it’s actually mildly surprising that Miami has one win. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you can’t block or beat blocks, playing winning football becomes next to impossible.

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