DAVIE, Fla. -- The sun is shining on the Dolphins once again after Thursday's season-saving 22-20 overtime victory against Cincinnati.
They not only ended their four-game losing streak, they put an entirely new spin on their future. Now, the Dolphins take a respectable 4-4 record into their Nov. 11 Monday Night game at winless Tampa Bay (0-7). Conventional wisdom says a 5-4 record, and playoff talk, will ensue.
But a dark cloud lingers nearby.
Questions persist about the Dolphins' locker room culture in the wake of a report that right tackle Jonathan Martin left the team because he was constantly bullied by teammates. Martin reportedly stormed out of the team cafeteria on Monday after being angered by a prank. He's away from the team indefinitely.
Coach Joe Philbin initially read from a prepared statement Friday when he was asked about allegations of bullying on his team.
"I'm aware of this report," he said, "and I can say without question we emphasize a culture of team-first and accountability and respect for one another. Any behavior that deviates from that is inconsistent with the values of our organization."
Philbin stonewalled further questions about the situation, such as when he was asked whether he considers bullying a form of harassment.
"Again, this is something we take very seriously and will not be tolerated," he said.
Philbin declined to say whether his staff was looking into the allegation of bullying.
"I think I've responded to those questions already," he said.
He declined to say whether there would be disciplinary action if players are found to have bullied Martin.
"Again, this is something we take very seriously and will not be tolerated," he said. "I've responded to those questions."
And he declined to say whether his six-player Leadership Council has met on its own or with him over the Martin situation.
"Any of those discussions that would take place with the Leadership Council would be between myself and them," he said.
Philbin wasn't restrained, however, in explaining what Thursday's victory could do for his team. The game ended in rarely-seen fashion as defensive end Cam Wake sacked Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in the end zone for a safety in overtime. It was only the third time in NFL history an overtime game has ended on a safety.
"Last Monday when we got together as a team," Philbin said, "we talked about family atmosphere. You're part of a family when you're on a team. There's 61 players, there's 20 coaches, and you have to watch each other's back. The theme for the week was we have to stick together and play like a team.
"The scheme wasn't the important thing that we wanted to emphasize. We wanted to emphasize playing like a team, sticking together, having everybody's backs. I think the film bore that out. That's what happened."
Wake shook his head when he considered everything the Dolphins have been through in the past week or so.
"Definitely never a dull moment," he said. "I can assure you of that."
On a human note, at least one player expressed concern for Martin.
"Obviously we care about J-Mart," right tackle Tyson Clabo said. "We just want him to be alright, and I want him to come back and work with us. He's a talented young football player."
And as for the locker room culture, quarterback Ryan Tannehill said he hasn't witnessed any harassment or bullying. He also seemed to strike a conciliatory chord for Martin.
"It's a family," Tannehill said. "Obviously there's going to be issues within a family. Nothing's perfect. But we love each other, we care for each other. We give each other a hard time, but we've got to support each other when we're down.
"We've been down the last few weeks and we've really stuck together, hung together, kept playing for each other. Going into the next week we've still got to be supportive for those who need us."
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