(N.B.: While I have been working on the following in my head for some time, the final impetus for writing it down came when someone on the MiamiDolphins.com forum recently asked me whether I was worried about the direction of the team a couple of months ago and represents why I was not.)
I seem to remember the media and some of the fans heavily criticizing Jeff Ireland for some moves that he made, or didn't make, last year. Perhaps not as heatedly as various protests this year, but there nonetheless. Re-examining them a year later might provide some useful lessons. Which leads to the following poll, featuring the six most controversial decisions that he made last year that I can remember:
While I'm not going to claim that every move he's made is beyond reproach, these were the six most controversial decisions that I could remember him making. The first three can unequivocally be chalked up in Ireland's favor as Bush probably had a bigger impact last season as the three other players combined. Based on the state of the Dolphins' OL going into the draft and the quality of Pouncey's play, I don't see anyone successfully arguing against the fourth. As for the last two, it's too early to give them anything other than a grade of incomplete. Thus, a year many expected Ireland to fumble away without Parcells' guidance instead found him consistently scoring touchdown after touchdown (with two "plays" still under review). Such a high rate of success, I would argue, should earn him the benefit of the doubt- at least unless and until he clearly shows that he no longer deserves it.