There have been alot of chicken or the egg arguments around with the GM or Head Coach as who is responsible for this disaster. My opinion is the Coaching was more at stake, but the GM has also been at best average. I have plenty of free time, since we will not be playing in the playoffs, so I will do a series on each position and how we rank (as unbiased as I can be) compared to the AFC. My feeling is if we are in the top 6 on average then the blame lays on Philbin, if not then it rests at the feet of Jeff Ireland.
Here is my ranking of Miami position by position to the rest of the 16 AFC teams. I will continue in this post by comparing the LB spot.
This was a sore spot for Jeff Ireland. He chose to “upgrade” at LB by dumping to solid, though not spectacular LB’s in Dansby and Burnett. I know Dansby has since shined, but while he was here I would have considered him a slightly above average player with a superstar salary. Burnett was great vs. the run, but really sucked in coverage last season. He then did actually save us money (in the long run) and went younger by signing to athletic LB’s in Ellerbe and Wheeler. When he made the moves I was not a huge fan of the Wheeler, but was a big fan of Ellerbe for Dansby. Obviously, that hasn’t (yet) worked to what I think anyone hoped. Ireland then went on to extend Koa Misi (my least favorite of 2012) to a deal that locks him into being a Dolphin for awhile.
While it was painfully obvious that Wheeler is not a great (or even good) LB, Ellerbe seemed to have spurts where he looked average (and remember he was playing from week 4 on a bum shoulder, which must be tough at the LB spot). What really hurt this group was that Dansby and Burnett had career years at other places. Which begs the question: coaching or talent?
While I think Ellerbe is much better in the 3-4 and Wheeler just isn’t very good. I do think neither was very good against the run (obvious statement of the decade). Misi however, seemed to improve dramatically in year 3 and that signing may be the best of the 3. I feel Ellerbe has the potential (remember he is still young) to become a good LB (although not a 4-3 middle LB), the Wheeler contract is soon to be dead money as we almost have to cut or demote him as of next year. I won’t get into all the details, because I don’t think there are many that disagree with me that the weak spot on our defense this season was the ILB play.
Teams in AFC that are better than us: All. Sorry that I don’t have time (or really the knowledge) to break down each team’s LB core, but I honestly think we have fallen that far at the LB spot. I do think there is hope with Ellerbe and Misi. But think we have to draft another LB (or make the simple move to a 3-4 and put Wake and Jordan at OLB while keeping Misi and Ellerbe at ILB, but that would make way too much sense).
So according to my rankings Miami comes in at #16 in the AFC. If you are keeping score that is Ireland 3, Philbin 3.
Update: Obviously now Ireland is gone (Ross must be reading my blogs!!), but the question still remains, how much of this was on Philbin as well?