On Friday, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin sat down with The Finsiders to give his thoughts on the recently released schedule.
Up until this point, most of the coaching staff’s attention has been on next week’s fast-approaching draft, with a little advanced scouting focused mostly on the Dolphins’ divisional rivals.
Now, though, attention can shift towards the team’s first regular season opponent, the Cleveland Browns, a team that, like the Dolphins last season, is coached by a first-time NFL head coach.
“That makes it a little more challenging, a little more fun for us,” Philbin said. “We’ve got to project a little more, maybe. They’ve got an excellent staff. The good news: Their defensive coordinator was in Arizona, so we’ve got a bank of information on him.”
OK, sure, it’s really, really fresh in our minds, but the Dolphins don’t travel to Cleveland to open up the regular season for nearly five more months. In the meantime, there will be some fairly significant events — the aforementioned Draft, OTA’s, training camp — that the team will use to build towards the regular season. So what, actually, is the coaching staff’s timeline for formulating that first gameplan for the Browns?
“We have a feeling for who they are and some of things they like to do, but we’ll kind of begin our preparations, in earnest, here during the offseason and have a good plan before we leave in June. And then, we’ll kind of adjust it when the preseason comes around.”
When the NFL implemented its Thursday night primetime schedule the past few years, it’s guaranteed that every single NFL team, even struggling franchises, receive a little extra national exposure. But it also adds an interesting scheduling quirk: teams have, at times, up to ten days between games. That’s what the Dolphins will face this year, as they follow up their Thursday Halloween night home date with Cincinnati with a Monday Night game in Tampa.
This layoff, though, can be used strategically. Philbin, in fact, said the team treated it almost like a de facto bye week to help recharge the batteries and improve the team’s health for the stretch run.
“That’s kind of how we approached things last year,” Philbin said. “We had a couple of different ideas. We actually came back from the Buffalo game and worked the next day, then took a couple off, then had another off day. So you’re going to have to be a little creative.”
Whether it’s perceived as a built-in advantage or not, the team will look to carry over some of the success it had last season coming off of a break.
“We played pretty well coming of our bye week last year and we played pretty well coming off of our Thursday night game. So we anticipate that will continue.”
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