Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, whose team has been rocked by a bullying scandal, promised a better workplace for his organization, and said he’ll spearhead those changes.
“I’m the head football coach so the team, the perfomance of the team, the 8-8 record, that falls on my shoulders,” he said. “So I’m going to be more vigilant, I’m going to be more diligent, I’m going to be more visible and I’m going to have a better pulse.”
Philbin, speaking Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine, said he was alarmed after reading the Wells Report on Friday.
That report, authored by New York-based attorney Ted Wells, outlined bullying/harassing behavior among Dolphins guards Richie Incognito and John Jerry, and center Mike Pouncey, toward tackle Jonathan Martin, tackle Andrew McDonald and an assistant trainer.
“Some of the facts, the behavior, the language that was outlined in the report is inappropriate, and it’s unacceptable,” Philbin said. “And I’m the one, as I mentioned earlier, that’s in charge of the workplace so I can tell you, I can tell our fans, I can tell you sitting here, I can tell our players, we’re going to do things about it, we’re going to make it better.
“We’re going to look at every avenue, we’re going to uncover every stone and we’re going to have a better workplace. I promise you that. I’m going to make sure that happens.”
Philbin also said he hasn’t made any decisions on whether Incognito, Pouncey or Jerry would return to the Dolphins.
“We’re in concert with the NFL and the commissioner’s office in regard to the potential discipline of any players, we’re communicating with them on that,” Philbin said. “We haven’t made any decisions on anyboyd’s futures in terms of the 2014 Miami Dolphins.”
Asked how the message of change gets through, Philbin said he’ll be vigilant.
“I have to do a better job,” Philbin said. “I’m going to look at every way, the way we educate, the way we communicate, the way we talk to one another. I’m going to look at every avenue.”
Philbin didn’t provide clear answers on many issues.
He was asked why he didn’t do more to help tackle Jonathan Martin more on a personal level during the 2013 season, knowing Martin was suicidal.
"I connected him with medical care immediately, when I knew that he needed some,” Philbin said. “I'm not going to comment any further about any of those discussions about his health."
Asked whether Martin would return to the Dolphins, Philbin said, “Our owner, Steve Ross, has reached out to Jonathan. At some point in the near future, they plan on getting together. For me to make any comments prior to that meeting would be inappropriate."
Philbin didn’t directly answer when asked if he considered getting rid of Incognito after the 2012 incident at a team-sponsored golf tournament in which he harassed a female volunteer and took a participant’s car and went joyriding in the parking lot of the golf club.
"When I was made aware of that situation that you're referencing I took immediate action, in the form of player discipline,” Philbin said. “Obviously, there are many options. We discussed as an organization what the best course would be and that's what we came up with. I'm not going to pass the buck to anybody else. I was part of it. That was the decision that we made."
But Philbin didn’t sound regretful that he decided to keep Incognito on the roster.
“That was the decision that was made at that point in time,” he said. “I stand by it. That's what we did."
As for Incognito being voted by teammates to the six-member Leadership Council, Philbin said he wasn’t responsible for Incognito being put in a position of power.
"I didn't necessarily name him a leader,” he said. “There's a leadership council that we have in place. The process is that players elect the players they want to have on the leadership council. Out of respect for the process, that's how the votes came in, and he's on the leadership council."
Philbin continued to voice support for his players and his staff.
"I believe in the players,” Philbin said. “I've stated, I believe when we first became aware of some of these allegations, that I have faith in our locker room, faith in the guys that we have.
“I think we have an outstanding coaching staff. I know we have work to do like every other football team here. That's why we're here. We're here to work, evaluate these prospects and improve our football team. I'm confident in the direction. 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."