PALM BEACH, Fla. – Joe Philbin has never been one to panic or allow himself to be overwhelmed. As even-keeled as they come, the ex-Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator didn’t seem the least bit fazed by his first AFC coaches breakfast, even when his table was the most crowded of anyone’s because of the proximity of his Miami Dolphins to NFL Meetings at The Breakers resort.
Peppered with questions about personnel, expectations and the big free agent who got away – former Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn, who opted for the Seattle Seahawks – Philbin handled everything just fine, even injecting his typical dry, self-deprecating sense of humor when asked if his Dolphins might be a candidate for HBO’s “Hard Knocks” training-camp TV reality series.
“I’m built for radio, not TV,” Philbin replied.
So maybe that’s why Philbin hasn’t wondered at any point what he got himself into with the Dolphins, a team that hasn’t won a playoff game in a decade and has had such issues that fans picketed their facility last week in protest.
“Not yet, no,” Philbin replied after the breakfast wrapped up Tuesday morning. “I walked down the hallway at lunch and saw three police officers in the building, and I was like, ‘Geez, what are you guys here for?’ But not really. The (fans), it’s been tough. They haven’t had a lot of consistent success around Miami in a while. Had some spurts where they were good, but (that’s it). The fans are passionate, and (the protesting) was different. But it hasn’t really overwhelmed me or anything.”
During his hourlong session with South Florida reporters, Philbin discussed Flynn and whether or not the Dolphins made enough of an effort to sign him. The impression Philbin left was that he wanted Flynn badly, but that Flynn simply chose Seattle instead. Philbin said after the breakfast that he talked to Flynn “at least twice” before his visit and thought Flynn had “a great visit.”
“I think we made an aggressive push,” Philbin told the throng of reporters at his table. “We got him in here relatively quickly. Again, we had a great meeting. Matt and I had some conversations, a number of conversations prior to his arrival to Miami. We had some subsequent ones after. He’d probably be able to give you better answer as to why he chose to go elsewhere.”
Later, Philbin replied to another question about Flynn: “Again, you need to ask Matt Flynn why he’s in Seattle. There’s a myriad factors that go into why people make decisions about their own future, which is their prerogative. And clubs have their own prerogative as to how they are going to decide to move forward. And so again, it always takes two people to get a marriage and so I wish him well. He’s a great young man. But he’s better to ask why he’s in Seattle.”
Flynn said after signing with the Seahawks that Seattle just felt like the right environment, which could be taken as an indictment of the vibe Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and GM Jeff Ireland have created around their franchise.
“I am familiar with coach Philbin and I think a lot of him and I think he’s a great person,” Flynn said in a conference call with Seattle-area reporters after the deal. “But when I came up to Seattle, I just felt very comfortable with everything. I felt like it was a family environment up there. After doing soul-searching, I felt excited about the opportunity up there and I just felt like it was the best fit for me. I felt like it was going to give me the best opportunity to be successful and I’m excited about it. I feel very blessed to have the opportunity and to be a Seahawk.”
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