GREEN BAY—Joe Philbin says his familiarity with the Packers is being overrated.
"The game's going to get decided by the players. What's amazing to me, when we started preparing for this game, I looked at the roster and I think there's at least half the guys that are brand new or I have no experience with any of those guys. That's the way the NFL is. People move on. Things are different. They've got a great coaching staff up there and things evolve over time. That was three years ago. I know they have a lot of things they do that are different than what they did three years ago," Philbin said during a conference call with Packers media on Wednesday.
Philbin was an assistant coach for the Packers through nine seasons, the last six on Mike McCarthy's staff and the final five of those as the Packers' offensive coordinator. He left to become the head coach of the Miami Dolphins following the 2011 season, and now he faces his old team and his former head coach for the first time this Sunday in Miami.
"I think the world of Mike, not just as a football coach, but he's just a class human being. He's a great family man. He does a great job with the team. I certainly wouldn't be where I am today without him," Philbin said.
As the Packers' offensive coordinator, Philbin helped develop Aaron Rodgers into arguably the best quarterback in the game. As the Dolphins' head coach, Philbin is attempting to advance Ryan Tannehill's game.
"I remember we were coaching in the Pro Bowl before Aaron ever started a game and watching guys throwing the ball and just thinking to myself we've got a guy that hasn't really played, but it certainly looks like he can throw the ball like some of these guys that were there," Philbin said of Rodgers.
"He's done well. We saw definite progress between year one and year two. He's obviously coming off the best performance he had this season. I think he's done a really good job in the decision-making aspect of things. I think we've seen a lot of improvement there. He's completing 60 percent of his passes. He's cut down on his interceptions. The passing game, as I've said for years and years, it really kind of takes three things. It takes protection. It takes precision in the route, timing and spacing. And it needs accuracy from the quarterback. We've got to get better at all three of those things in our passing game. Our passing game is not quite where it needs to be, but I think we're making strides," Philbin said.
Sunday's game will define the strides the Dolphins have made under Philbin, and harken memories of the strides Rodgers and the Packers offense made under Philbin.
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - OCT. 8