Jeff Ireland appears set to return in 2014

Joel Auerbach

The Miami Dolphins have won three of their last four, are in the middle of a playoff hunt, and tied their season win total from last year with three games to play when they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday. With all of that, it appears the much maligned Jeff Ireland will return as General Manager in 2014.

The most hated man in Miami seems ready to once again rise from the crticism and continue to serve as the Miami Dolphins general manager. According to an article from Miami Herald reporter Armando Salguero, NFL sources have stated that Ireland received assurances from Dolphins owner Stephen Ross recently that he has job security.

As much as it will drive some fans crazy, it probably is the right move.

The Dolphins have issues. There's no denying that. However, they still seem to be a team moving in the right direction, getting better, and adding talent. In just the second season of the Ireland-Joe Philbin regime, that is exactly what was expected.

It is absolutely frustrating as fans to know that the Dolphins could very easily have eight, nine, or even ten wins at this point of the season. However, that's more a matter of on-the-field execution than it is a matter of Ireland not getting talented players. Look at yesterday's performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers just to confirm.

Despite the calls for him to be replaced, or fans wanting his injury to be season ending as it was originally reported, Daniel Thomas returned to the lineup for Miami, beginning the game on the bench, only to take on the number one role when Lamar Miller suffered a concussion. Thomas ran for 105-yards and a touchdown on 16-carries, all game highs. Ireland is questioned for trading up in the 2011 Draft to get Thomas, but on Sunday, it paid off.

Cornerback Nolan Carroll is almost as critiscized as Thomas, yet he has played well all saeason, including yesterday. He broke up a pass late in the game and was effective whenever he was on the field.

Tight end Michael Egnew, who Ireland selected in the third round of the 2012 Draft, only to see him spend most of his rookie year inactive on game days, has developed into an effective blocker and, while his stats are not eye-popping, he has been effective in the passing game this year. Ireland was derided for picking a bust in the third round last year, but Egnew seems to be developing.

One of the top players for Miami this year, including his two-touchdown performance against the Steelers, has been tight end Charles Clay. Ireland selected the former Tulsa fullback in the sixth round in 2011.

Of course, there have been misses. Right tackles seem to keep being a problem, with Marc Colombo and Tyson Clabo both being free agent signings to fill the position, only to see them struggle. To be fair, Clabo is playing better as of late, but neither of those signings could be said to have turned out as hoped.

The team has also allowed productive players to leave in free agency, or traded them away, such as Brandon Marshall, Reggie Bush, and Jake Long. However, the team clearly had plans other than with those players, for right ot wrong, and they were not willing to overpay for players they did not really want.

Everything could still fall apart, and Ross could re-look his decision on keeping Ireland past this year, especially if the team goes on a losing streak to end the year. However, it appears that Ireland will be back in 2014, and, by an assumed extension, head coach Philbin should return as well.

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