At this point in the offseason, with mini-camp complete, those who’ve followed Joe Philbin’s practices have almost become immune to how different things are. What once was eye-opening–the pace of practice, coaching style, coaching schemes–has gradually become the norm. If you take a step back, though, it’s quite clear that the team is preparing differently.
To Wilcots, the differences, even this early in the offseason, are noticeable.
“It’s like night and day,” Wilcots said. “When you watch his team practice—the tempo, the energy in practice, the enthusiasm—I’ve never seen an NFL practice in shorts and without shoulder pads, (with) players getting so much out of it.
“This is a team that’s really going to surprise a lot of people because you can’t continue to practice the way they do and not have some semblance of success.”
The way things were run were going to change, of course, but Wilcots was impressed, nevertheless. But it wasn’t just that energy felt different, that was clear; it was how quickly the team’s identity changed.
“To have implemented that culture so quickly, and how the players have bought into it immediately, that’s what I was most impressed with,” said Wilcots, who has called AFC games for CBS since the 2001 season.
If the Dolphins are successful under Philbin, they will need more consistent quarterback play than they’ve had in the recent past. With this in mind, they selected Ryan Tannehill in the first round of April’s draft. During the pre-draft process, Wilcots, like others, wasn’t sure whether Tannehill should be grouped with Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, both of whom were seen as immediate impact players. After spending some time with the rookie quarterback, and seeing how he seemed at ease with his surroundings, Wilcots said he’s a believer.
“I can see how they came away just in love with Ryan Tannehill. I can see how they came away saying, ‘He may not be right for everybody, he’s right for us.’” Wilcots said. “His knowledge in this offense allows him to be more confident. He’s not a rookie with his head spinning, because I think he feels very comfortable, at least in this stage of the game, with what they’re doing offensively.”
While he was in South Florida, Wilcots spent time in the film room with Karlos Dansby, whom he considers to be the quarterback of the Dolphins defense and a consistent, underrated performer.
“Karlos Dansby has yet to be invited to a Pro Bowl, which I think is criminal,” Wilcots said, “because I think he plays at a Pro Bowl level, and I think he’s done that for a number of years.”
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