Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano may be on the hottest seat in the NFL after his team lost again Sunday to bring the Fins record to 0-4 in 2011.
Published reports by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and ESPN said Sparano’s job is safe, for now. But even if his job is safe, his team is in deep trouble.
The team is struggling on both sides of the football. The defense that was supposed to carry the team has become a shell of its 2010-self and the offense remains anemic with even star players dropping the ball.
It’s lead to serious fan anger that was evidence on sports talk radio in Miami.
“This team is the most pathetic organization; and I’ll tell you where it comes from, it comes from the top,” one listener told 790 The Ticket’s Jorge Sedano Monday morning.
“I think this team is headed to be the worst 1-15 team,” another listener said. “We need to change it and do it now.”
Sedano agreed with many of his listeners and had some choice words for Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.
“They need to tarp the whole facility and clean house right now,” Sedano said. “That’ll be the only way they can right the ship.”
The problem for Ross has been building ever since he took over the franchise. Ross chose to focus more on celebrities and building a nightclub inside the stadium, rather than putting together a solid football organization.
Ross also embarrassed the organization due to his fumbled attempt to try to hire Jim Harbaugh to be the Fins coach, while Tony Sparano was still employed by the head coach.
From a troubled owner, to a team in turmoil, the Fins fans have had enough.
“All of it. Every bit of it from the defense, the offense, coaching; it’s all bad,” Fins fan Andrew Marucci told Sedano.
Dolphins fans have turned much of their frustration towards Sparano in the short-term. But his players continued to defend him and say don’t blame the coach.
“IT’s not his fault,” Dolphins strong safety Yeremiah Bell said. “It’s not him out there playing; it’s us. We know what to do. We are just not doing it. Coach Sparano ain’t got nothing to do with it.”
That statement could be the statement that best sums up the organization. The players aren’t listening to the coaches; the coaches can’t trust management; and management is in disarray. It’s become a perfect storm that is leaving fans steaming.
“They stink,” one fan told Sedano. “They wear uniforms that are aqua and blue and they can’t play football.”
It’s a problem that will continue to compound for Ross. Fan apathy in South Florida is running at a high level and in a recession, fans are loathe to spending a lot of money to watch a bad football team.
That will bring another issue of local media blackouts being a distinct possibility for the Fins in the near future. Combined, that will do more to damage Ross’ bottom line than anything else.
Sparano’s job is safe for now because the Dolphins don’t have a lot of options mid-season. If the team let Sparano go, the interim coach would likely be defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
Nolan is no stranger to being a head coach, but he was fired by San Francisco for failing to put a winning team together. His defense is bad this year and putting him in charge wouldn’t ignite the fan base.
That means the Dolphins may be looking towards the off-season before they make any coaching and general manager moves.
It’s a prognosis that’s making even the most loyal of Dolphins fans disgusted.
“It’s been a horrible season,” Fins fans Melissa Andreu told Sedano. “It’s sad to see the way it’s going right now.”
The only thing Fins fans may be able to hang their hats on right now is that the team may be so bad that they finally land their quarterback of the future in the 2012 NFL Draft. The Fins could be in line to land Stanford QB Andrew Luck.
But to do that, the Fins will have to “suck for Luck,” which means more pain will be on the way for Fins fans.
Dolphins fans are among the most loyal in the NFL. But, five years removed from winning just one game; the franchise is again in the same position and fans are sick of it.
The only question remains does Ross have the medicine to fix what ills the Dolphins.