Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin kicked off the NFL Combine on Thursday by accepting responsibility for the bullying scandal involving linemen Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito that enveloped the Dolphins last season.
By TEREZ PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
“I want everybody to know I’m the one that’s responsible for the workplace, the environment in the Miami Dolphins facility,” Philbin said. “I’m the one that sets the schedule, I decide when the practices are, I decide what time players eat, how they meet, how they lift, everything that they do in the facility.”
It was Philbin’s first public comment since the NFL released a report from investigator Ted Wells on Feb. 14.
“I think you can imagine that when I read the report that you have — and I got the report at the same minute you got it — some of the facts, the behavior, the language that was outlined in the report was inappropriate and it’s unacceptable,” Philbin said.
Philbin vowed that the Dolphins would have a better workplace environment in 2014. The club fired offensive line coach Jim Turner and head trainer Kevin O’Neill after they were implicated in the scandal.
“I’m confident that we’re going to make the changes necessary to improve the workplace of the Miami Dolphins and improve our football team,” Philbin said.
Next Cardinal up
While Philbin answered questions about the scandal, a former college teammate of Martin’s also chimed in.
Cameron Fleming said he and Martin, who were teammates on the offensive line at Stanford from 2010 to 2011, remain friendly, though he offered no take on the situation Martin found himself embroiled in last season.
“I really don’t get into all of that, but my relationship with him is pretty good,” Fleming said. “I talked to him probably more than I talk to other guys in the NFL just because he played my position when he was there. He was a left tackle; I was a right tackle. So we had that dynamic together.”
But when asked if teams have made any comparisons between him and Martin, Fleming said they had not.
“I’ve actually never heard connections between us yet,” Fleming said. “Maybe they’re coming though.
“I think we have two totally different styles of play. He’s a little lighter, quicker kind of guy. I’m a little bigger, stronger, (I) move with a little more purpose.”
Fleming had a year of eligibility remaining but decided to declare for the draft. He is not listed among the draft’s 10-best tackles, according to ESPN.com, but has hopes of changing that.
O’Dea, Toub touted
When new Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith was asked what kind of role the Chiefs’ special teams success in 2013 had on his recent decision to hire assistant Kevin O’Dea away from Andy Reid’s staff, Smith grinned.
“Well, I feel like I’m bringing back from my old staff instead of hiring him from Andy,” Smith said with a grin.
Indeed, O’Dea — a longtime assistant under Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub — has a history with Smith. But Toub and O’Dea were mainstays on Smith’s staff during his run as Chicago’s coach from 2004 to 2012.
So when Smith landed the Tampa job this offseason, he knew exactly where he wanted to look to build the kind of powerhouse special teams units he had in Chicago, especially when you considered the Chiefs scored a league-high five special-teams touchdown this season.
“Special teams are important. It’s always been that way with us,” Smith said. “(The decision to hire O’Dea) had a lot to do with the success that Kansas City had last year.”
Smith said he thinks Toub, who has routinely directed some of the league’s best special-teams units over the last several years, has a future as an NFL head coach.
“Dave has interviewed before for a head job,” Smith said. “(Baltimore’s) John Harbaugh has a special-teams background. He’s doing a great job in the league.
“Dave, eventually, will get his opportunity.”
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