DAVIE, Fla. -- Give Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross a lot of credit: He's stayed staunchly consistent in his support of head coach Joe Philbin throughout the ups and downs.
When Ross hired Philbin three seasons ago, the owner said he's hopeful that he found the next Don Shula. Ross also stood behind Philbin after last season's late collapse and high-profile bullying scandal. So much was the case that prospective general manager candidates dropped out because Ross wouldn't allow the new GM the freedom to hire their own coach.
On Friday, Ross was asked again about Philbin's job security at the start of training camp. Philbin has just a 15-17 record in two seasons and has yet to make the playoffs. This is an important third season for Philbin, and most believe he must lead the Dolphins to the playoffs to keep his job.
Ross didn’t take the bait when asked about expectations of Philbin and the team.
“I’m not going to say here he has to [make the playoffs] because I can understand what the headlines are,” Ross said. “I like Joe Philbin very much. I believe the ingredients of being a winning organization is having consistency. I’m expecting Joe Philbin to be here a long time. Every year, you want to see improvement.”
Improvement for the Dolphins this season would likely include a playoff berth. Miami improved from 6-10 in 2011 to 7-9 and 8-8 in two seasons under Philbin. A 9-7 or 10-6 record, could be good enough to at least land a wild card in a competitive AFC.
Despite a .500 record, there is plenty of skepticism on the Dolphins taking the next step. Various preseason power rankings have placed the Dolphins in the 20s.
Ross believes everyone will soon see that these aren't the same, struggling Dolphins. Philbin's job security depends on it.
“I think you’ll see by just the attitude of the players, the energy being exuded,” Ross said. “I think we have a team that -- I’m not going to tell you how far it’s going to go -- but I think you’re going to find a team that’s looking to improve. That wants to improve and working together. I think there’s a lot of energy there, and I think that we have the foundation to create a winning organization on the field and I think it will continue.”