Following the Miami Dolphins' 37-35, last-second win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, owner Stephen Ross put all the rumors and speculation to rest: Joe Philbin will return as coach in 2015. Philbin is 23-24 in three seasons as coach and could even things up with a win next week against the New York Jets.
The timing of the announcement is rather odd, and the news that Ross had decided on Philbin coming back next season before the game is even odder. The Dolphins saw themselves once again fall apart in December and will miss the playoffs for the sixth straight season. 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, a man Stephen Ross has courted before to coach the Dolphins, is virtually guaranteed to be on the open market this offseason. It matters not now, however, because there will be no opening in Miami.
One has to assume retaining Philbin means most everything else will stay intact, including offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and general manager Dennis Hickey. It's assumed quarterback Ryan Tannehill will be in Miami regardless, as he has progressed nicely in his third season, capped by a spectacular career-high four-touchdown day Sunday. The roster may not look the same, however, as the Dolphins will have many decisions to make on some key players, such as defensive lineman Randy Starks and linebacker Phillip Wheeler.
Ross meets with Philbin in the locker room after announcing that he will be back next season pic.twitter.com/wcMrgFs1uQ— Andrew Abramson (@AbramsonPBP) December 21, 2014
The news came out as Ross met with reporters in the locker room following the Dolphins' win. Ross stood and watched the game on the sidelines all afternoon, a game that featured a late Tannehill touchdown pass to tie the game and the Dolphins blocking a punt for a safety with under a minute left to win 37-35 and improve to 8-7.
"You can enjoy your Christmas and stop speculating who's going to be the coach next year," Ross said after the game. "He [Philbin] has built something. I mean, I'd made that decision before this game. Certainly it's nice to see the victory. I think he's building something, and I like what's going on."
Philbin sounded like a man who had been given a stay of execution after the announcement.
"This is where I want to be the head coach. Three years ago when I interviewed, I came to work to Steve Ross. He's the owner. He's shown a lot of support to me over the years, through, let's face it, some difficult times. It's a privilege to be the head coach, and I want to do the things I said when I came here -- consistently compete for championships.
"We're not going to do that this year, and that's disappointing, but the faith that Steve has in me, I feel fortunate every day that I work with great people in the organization. I'm very happy that he's supported me as often and as consistently as he has -- and he really has."
So there you have it. The Miami Dolphins will not be making a coaching change and also won't be making the playoffs; exciting times for Dolphins fans, as usual.