New G.M. Walks Into Mess With Dolphins
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DAVIE (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins hired new general manager Dennis Hickey over the weekend. But instead of clearing up the issues that have plagued the franchise in recent weeks, the move only added more questions to the dysfunction in Davie.
It’s possible that Hickey will turn into the next great general manager in the vein of Baltimore’s Ozzie Newsome, but the team that he had given almost two decades to, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, passed him over for a general manager job this offseason.
The bigger issue for the Dolphins is that no top candidate wanted to have anything to do with the team. One top candidate chose to stay with the woeful Cleveland Browns. Another candidate wanted control over the head coach, which GM’s typically have, and owner Stephen Ross refused, and that candidate turned down a pay raise and promotion to return to the previous team.
Another candidate reportedly wanted more control over the head coach at the end of the season and Ross again refused to give up any control over Joe Philbin. Other top candidates didn’t even choose to talk to the Dolphins for fear of the dysfunctional franchise in Davie.
The numerous rejections by well-respected personnel men around the league further the perception that the Dolphins franchise has no idea where it’s going and how to get there.
In just the last few years, the Dolphins have tried to hire Jeff Fisher and were rejected. The Dolphins publicly fumbled an attempt to hire Jim Harbaugh while already having a coach on staff at the time. He also very publicly sought Peyton Manning, but was quickly rebuffed by the future Hall of Fame quarterback.
By the end of the latest search, as many as eight people rejected the Fins’ overture to take over the roster and help rescue the franchise from itself.
Part of the questioning of owner Stephen Ross is the loyalty to head coach Joe Philbin. Since taking over as the Fins’ head coach, he’s posted a record of 15-17 and not inspired much hope from fans or even from his own players.
The biggest problem for the Dolphins has remained at the top of the franchise as Ross has tried to piece together staffs from previous administrations and held together a team that has yet to prove that it can be any better than .500.
Winning can solve everything for the Dolphins. A playoffs appearance, plus improved quarterback play, would do wonders for the team in both the eyes of the fans and the rest of the NFL.
Hickey’s issues to fix with the Dolphins run very deep. The team has to completely rebuild the offensive line through free agency and the draft. The defensive line could look completely different based on decisions surrounding Randy Starks and Paul Soliai.
Hickey will have to decide whether to give cornerback Brent Grimes a long-term contract or tying up a big franchise tag contract on him this year.
But the biggest thing Hickey must fix is winning. He has to do what his predecessor Jeff Ireland was never able to do: put together a team that can win on a consistent basis. Part of the problem was Ireland’s talent evaluation and the other is the coaching staff.
Hickey can fix half of that equation and if he does, it might help the other part. If it doesn’t, the Dolphins will be in the same place next year they are this year, on the outside looking in as the Super Bowl approaches.