MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) – After serving six seasons, Jeff Ireland is no longer the Miami Dolphins’ General Manager.
Owner Stephen Ross, according to the press release, said he and Ireland mutually agreed to part ways Tuesday.
“I want to personally thank Jeff for his hard work and dedication in building the team over the past six years,” Ross is quoted as saying in the press release. “After a series of discussions, we both felt that it was in our mutual best interest to part ways. Jeff was a loyal and dedicated member of the Dolphins and we wish him and his family nothing but the best.”
The move comes after the Dolphins were within two games of a playoff berth this season before collapsing in the final two games of the season. Miami’s offense scored just seven points in the final two games as the season hung in the balance.
“I’ve spent the last six years with the best organization in football,” added Ireland. “Steve and I came to an agreement that the best thing moving forward for all parties would be to part ways. I’d like to thank Steve for all his support and kindness. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing people during this time and I’d like to thank them all from the bottom of my heart.”
Football fans on Tuesday chimed in on the change.
“I think it’s the best thing that ever happened to the Dolphins,” Eric Palencia told CBS4’s Lauren Pastrana at a sports bar near SunLife Stadium. “Ireland is garbage. Sorry, I hate to say it.”
Ian Burgess, a self-proclaimed Buffalo Bills’ fan, said he was glad the Fins made the move to oust Ireland.
“For the Bills to beat the Dolphins twice, if that’s the difference between the Dolphins making the playoffs, somebody’s gotta go,” Burgess said.
Ross spent more than $100 million in guaranteed money in the 2013 offseason to bring in new talent to help the Dolphins reach at least the playoffs.
The Fins brought in speedy receiver Mike Wallace and slot receiver Brandon Gibson, along with linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler.
Miami’s offense was the target of a lot of fan scorn this year. The Dolphins scored more than 27 points just one time during the season, a Week 14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. And the scoring was not the only offensive number that suffered in 2013.
According to profootballreference.com, Miami’s offense ranked 26th in the league in points and 27th in total yards from scrimmage. The Fins were 29th in first downs gained, 28th in net yards per passing attempt, 29th in rushing attempts, 26th in rushing yards, and 27th in rushing touchdowns.
In one-quarter of Miami’s games this season, (Cleveland, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Buffalo) the team averaged 14.5 net rushing yards per game.
Much of the issue was laid at the feet of Ireland, from poor NFL drafts, bad free agent signings, poor trades, not to mention the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito bullying scandal that enveloped the team in 2013 and still has not been settled.
Ireland was signed to a contract extension after the Dolphins started out solid in 2013. But, the Dolphins’ collapse, along with fan scorn, and other decisions (asking a draft pick if his mom was a prostitute) likely sent Ireland packing.
“It is what is is. It’s a business move. They agreed to move on, so I’m good,” said Dolphins’ fan Eldric Miller. ”
Ireland was the last remaining major cog in the wheel from the horrendous decision in 2008 to bring in Bill Parcells as a football czar for the Fins.
Parcells brought Ireland and head coach Tony Sparano with him and 2008 turned into a solid season for Miami.
But just as quickly as Miami looked like it was on the rise and had a new owner in Ross; the wheels fell off and the Fins could do no better than becoming an average to below-average team in the NFL. Even after the offseason spending spree in 2013, Miami still could not put it all together and finished 8-8.
One of Ireland’s biggest problems throughout his tenure in Miami was the NFL Draft. In the 2013 Draft, Tannehill made a splash to acquire the number three pick and spent it on defensive end Dion Jordan. The physical freak put up great workout numbers, but failed to live up to his promise on the field in 2013 and finished the season with just two sacks.
Ireland’s other draft picks in 2013 never made it onto the field as starters, though Dion Sims did see some action at tight end throughout the season. The only pick that wound up starting for the Fins was kicker Caleb Sturgis, taken in the fifth round.
In the 2012 Draft, Ireland took Tannehill eighth overall, which looks like it will pay off in the long run. But thanks to a bullying scandal, his second round pick is out of the league and outside of starting defensive end Olivier Jordan, the rest of the draft was a wash.
Dating back to 2008, when Ireland arrived in Miami, he’s drafted roughly 50 players and of those 50 players, 10 finished 2013 as starters for the Fins.
The next general manager, who has yet to be named, walks into an odd circumstance of having a head coach already in place. Typically in the NFL, a general manager is hired first and brings in the head coach they want.
However, in Miami Joe Philbin is not expected to be fired after just two seasons in charge.
It has happened before, like last year in New York when the Jets kept Rex Ryan and brought in John Idzik to be the general manager. It’s also going to happen in Tampa Bay this offseason as the Buccaneers appear ready to hire Lovie Smith as head coach before hiring a new general manager.
Nonetheless, with Ireland now out, a new era for the Dolphins is underway. It’s an era that fans hope will finally return the glory to Sun Life Stadium and a Dolphins franchise that hasn’t won a Super Bowl since the 1970’s.