DAVIE (CBSMiami) – Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’ move Tuesday to part ways with general manager Jeff Ireland may have pleased fans initially, but the question remains now of what talented general manager candidate would want to come to the dysfunction in Davie?
In roughly a week the Dolphins have justifiably fired both Jeff Ireland and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. But, the Dolphins, at least as of Wednesday morning, have decided to keep head coach Joe Philbin in his current position.
According to multiple reports, Ireland parted ways with the team on Tuesday after Ross revealed a restructuring in the front office that would have taken much of Ireland’s power away. Dolphins executive vice presidents of football operations Dawn Aponte has also been brought into the middle of the situation.
According to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero, Aponte listened to Ireland complain about the coaching staff during a game and then went and told head coach Joe Philbin about what Ireland said.
After that, according to Salguero, Philbin and Ireland rarely spoke and the power struggle in the franchise eventually had to come to an end. Aponte and Philbin remain in the Dolphins organization and Ireland will be paid for a year to not work.
All of it has contributed to a reputation around the NFL of a completely dysfunctional franchise that has no idea where it’s going. It’s a stark contrast for Ross, who has enjoyed lots of success in almost every other business venture he’s undertaken.
The problems continue to compound for the Dolphins as well. Ross wants a top-notch talent evaluator to replace Ireland. But, most general managers and general manager candidates want to bring in their own head coach to work with and have final say on personnel decisions.
In Miami, the new general manager will walk into a situation where they’re essentially handed a head coach they didn’t hire and have to work in a power structure where the coach and another team executive are allies, according to the Herald.
Two years ago, and even further back when Ross first took over the team, top coaches avoided the franchise because of the perceived problems within the organization.
Consider since Ross took over: he tried to hire a head coach (Jim Harbaugh) while still having a head coach under contract (Tony Sparano) and the general manager (Ireland) was complicit in the transaction; he gave his then-head coach (Sparano) a contract extension even though there was a fractured relationship and everyone knew Sparano was on a short leash.
He fired Sparano in the middle of a bad season and undertook a major coaching search only to be turned aside by coaches like Bill Cowher and Jeff Fisher. In the meantime, his general manager became infamous for asking a potential draft prospect if his mother was a prostitute.
Fans began calling for the ousting of the general manager, but he was kept for two more seasons against fan wishes. A proposed stadium upgrade in the state legislature was soundly defeated and may have lost at the polls in Miami-Dade County.
The team started out 3-0 and Ireland was given a contract extension. After starting 3-0, the team started losing and then the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito scandal exploded and became a major embarrassment for the franchise.
During the blowup and subsequent months, Ireland was reportedly told his job was safe heading into next year.
The team then moved to within a few quarters of making the playoffs in 2013 only to watch the entire thing blow up in one of the worst collapses in recent Dolphins history.
All the while, the team continued a streak of missing the playoffs for a fifth straight season, only one playoff berth since 2002, and only one playoff win since 2000. The Fins haven’t been to the Super Bowl since 1984 and haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1974 (Super Bowl VIII).
The Dolphins have one of the most loyal fanbases in the NFL, but the continued dysfunction and drama is weighing on even the most diehard fans. Plus, the city that was once owned by the Fins is now a basketball town with the Miami Heat the top team in town.
However, winning can cure everything and a few good hires by the Dolphins during this offseason could reestablish the franchise as a top destination for fans and front-office personnel.