The first thing that caught his eye was a road date with the Houston Texans to start the season.
“The season opener is always important to me,” Philbin said, “because you always gauge your training camp and your thought process based off that first opponent.”
The Dolphins should get a stiff test against Houston, a team they’ve never defeated, losing all six of the previous games in the all-time series. The Texans return virtually all of their coaching staff, including head coach Gary Kubiak, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison. This continuity, Philbin said, makes it easier to gameplan and set the tone during training camp.
“When you’re looking at the schedule, you’re always hoping that first game is against a team that has an established coaching staff,” Philbin said. “That will help your preparation in the off-season.”
Once his eyes slipped past the season opener, Philbin admitted he checked out the games against Miami’s divisional rivals next. A good chunk of those games are in the season’s closing stretch, including two with the team Philbin described as “the rulers of the roost,” the New England Patriots.
“If you want to be a playoff-caliber football team year in and year out, you’ve got to play well within your own division,” Philbin said.
With the NFL deciding to expand its Thursday night package this season, every team received a primetime game. The Dolphins will travel to Buffalo for one of the NFL Network’s Thursday Night games on Nov 15., but they were not selected for any other national TV games. This can change, however, if the team jumps out to a hot start in the beginning of the season.
“In the first eight or nine games, we’ve got to show people the kind of football team we have, the capability of the guys we have,” Philbin said. “I’m pretty certain the NFL still changes up some of those Sunday night matchups, so hopefully we’re playing well enough that some of those games in late November and December are attractive for the NFL to pick up.”
Now that off-season workouts have started, the road to a potentially successful season has started for Philbin and the Dolphins. If they want to make a playoff run late into the season, the journey must start now.
“There’s no doubt, it’s a process,” Philbin said. “If the players don’t believe in the mission of the program and the coaching staff, then you’re never going to get to December and play meaningful games.”
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.