I think we have to believe one of 2 theories about the Dolphins. Either we have the talent and we underperform so the coaches are the issue (what I and every fan would like to believe), or we don't have enough talent to compete at an elite level so the GM/FO is the issue. Let's take a look at the facts (since we have nothing to talk about now until the draft).
I am going to go through our roster in my opinion and look at if we should blame Philbin (or his staff) or Ireland based on the talent on the roster.
I feel we are like most teams in the NFL (ranked 10-20) where we have talent to at least compete with most if not all teams in the league. Let's look at a position by postion ranking of our team.
QB: It really starts and ends here for most teams in the NFL and we are no exception. I think most QB guru's and guys that I would respect around the league feel Tannehill has taken steps forward this year. I know the last game didn't help, but I think we can all look at the body of work and see improvement from year 1 to year 2. So the question becomes, is he good enough to be a guy you put in permanent marker on the depth chart. I don't know the answer, but feel he is a guy that at worst is a middle of the pack QB, and he seems to have a high talent level. So, in my opinion he is a QB we can win with. (Advantage Ireland)
WR: Another area that I feel we are average to above average in talent level. Mike Wallace is a special type of player (although I don't feel a Alpha #1 WR) and when Gibson was healthy I felt we had a great #2 and #3 option with him and Hartline. With Charles Clay becoming a good contributor (and Keller would have been) we have a solid foundation. Rishard Matthews is a guy that I think can be a solid #4-#5 WR in this league. I am not saying we have an elite group of WR's, but I do think (as a group) they are in the top 10 in the league. (Advantage Ireland)
RB: Awful. I am still trying to remember a broken tackle this season by a RB...nope can't think of one. Lamar Miller has potential to be a solid #2-#3 RB in this league and he does have elite speed. Daniel Thomas is a wasted pick. What hurts the most is that we didn't pay Reggie Bush and had no fall back option. I think this is an area that is seriously overlooked when people hammer our offensive line. A great back can actually make guys miss and help your offensive line. It should say all we need to know that when the season was on the line we handed the ball to a TE on 4th and 1. (Advantage Philbin)
OL: Really? Before the whole bullygate scandal this was a group that every casual fan was saying was terrible. Everyone in the league knew they were bad, except Ireland. I was ok letting Jake Long go, but we had to find a realistic replacement. In my opinion we had one NFL starting level player on the field (Mike Pouncy) and 2 over-the-hill guys with 2-3 backup players (at best). But before I completely kill Ireland (and he deserves much of this blame), this unit should have still been better and that speaks to the coaching. (Advantage Philbin, with a caveat that he must fix the coaching by firing either OC or OL coach).
DL: An elite unit that looked terrible today. I am not sure what was going on during the last few weeks, but Randy Starks looked like he didn't even want to be on the field. I understand contract issues, but his lack of effort was noticed by me today play after play. I would say the talent is here. Between: Wake, Jordan, Vernon, Odrick and either Solai/Starks (I assume we re-sign one of them) we have a great defensive front for 3-4 years. (Advantage Ireland).
LBs: Excluding Misi, we have been awful at this spot. Ellerbe and Wheeler looked lost and like square pegs being forced into a round hole. Neither looks fit to be "between the tackle" type LB's. Both of them could be good possibly in another scheme, but were at best a "bad fit" and at worst not very good signings. What makes this more painful is that Dansby is playing lights out in AZ. Again before killing Ireland too much, the coaching looks bad when guys are good players elsewhere and then suck in Miami. (Advantage Philbin)
DBs: I am torn on this one. Let's start with the good. Grimes looks to be an elite level corner that we haven't had since Madison/Surtain days. He doesn't always like to tackle, but is a guy I am very glad we scooped up. (BTW: we better re-sign him this offseason!!). Clemons seems to have become a solid NFL starter at Free Safety. I think with some more experience he could continue to develop. I would not be very upset if he left, but feel comfortable with him as a starter. Jones seems to have taken a step backwards (but is that a player or scheme issue?). Patterson was an injury risk that didn't work. Carroll has developed into a decent #3 corner. Jimmy Wilson is a great effort player, but needs to be more of a special teamer than starter. I think we go with Ireland being the bigger goat here since the rookie DB's look awful. (Advantage Philbin)
After the scorecard is up it is Ireland losing by a slight margin. I think he made some good moves, but unfortunately after 5 years in charge and 0 playoff births he must go. I am not sure Philbin escapes this, but think he can scapegoat most of our issues on Ireland and Shermand (if he will man up and let him go).
The next issue is who do we bring in as a GM. I'd suggest Bill Polian. I think he did a good job in Indy (I know drafting Peyton Manning made it easier, but I think he is still very much intune with the NFL). Anyway, we have many months to debate who is more at fault. I hope this at least brings a good forum for us to air our differences of opinion.