Dennis Hickey: Savior ... or Merely Competent?

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

It's been less than two months since Dolphins fans lashed out upon hearing of their team's failure to fill its general manager with first Ray Farmer of the Cleveland Browns and then Nick Cesario of the New England Patriots. Cesario's decision to decline Miami's offer appeared to fans and media alike as a sign that the Dolphins had hit rock bottom. And then the team the next morning quietly announced that it had finally hired a general manager: a little-known Buccaneers front office executive by the name of Dennis Hickey.

Approximately 46 days after the Cesario rejection, Dolphins fans everywhere are beaming a collective grin that would look right at home on the Cheshire Cat. The reason for the current exuberance in South Florida? That'd be Hickey's work during the first day of NFL Free Agency--an opening salvo in which the Dolphins' new general manager signed a premier left tackle in Branden Albert and an up-and-coming nose tackle in Earl Mitchell in the time that it typically takes for someone to refresh their browser. Strike hard, strike fast, no mercy. And Hickey showed none as he began laying the first few bricks that will serve as the foundation to the plan he has in store for the Miami Dolphins.

It's an exciting time in South Florida. And for once in a very long time, the Dolphins' general manager isn't a scapegoat; isn't an unerasable blemish upon the face of a once-storied franchise; isn't controversial; isn't widely considered to be a jerk. There'll be plenty of time for Hickey to grow into one, several or all of the above-mentioned roles. But for right now, he's just a silver-haired guy who gets maybe a little too nervous during press conferences, but also comes off as a genuinely nice guy who realizes the opportunity he's been given in Miami.

Win and the world is yours. Lose and fans will find a way to vilify you and everything about you. That's football in Miami, and Hickey for the time being has everyone forgetting about that Cesario guy and that large Farmer gentleman. If former general manager Jeff Ireland was Emperor Palpatine, Hickey is Miami's Han Solo--not much in the resume department, but he knows what he's doing, and he's absolutely the person you'd want piloting your ship when it counts. And he'll need to be that level of clutch in his first year with the Dolphins, because he's been paired with a head coach he didn't hire, and is now tied to a player environment that has been analyzed and questioned to death since last November. Those are unfavorable circumstances, no doubt. But if Hickey is as smooth and efficient in handling this team as he was during the opening bell of Free Agency yesterday afternoon (and also the previous evening when he signed former Lions safety Louis Delmas), everything should work out just fine.

There's plenty of work left to be done in Free Agency--plenty of stones to overturn and scenarios to kick around. And then Hickey will really get an opportunity to strut his stuff when the 2014 NFL Draft rolls around on May 8. Again, if Miami's new hotshot GM can attack the "path to primetime" the way he kicked off Free Agency, next season will be the most exciting Dolphins campaign since there was a guy named Dan Marino under center. And then maybe fans can look back on late January--a time when Dolphins were hearing a whole lot of the word "no"--not as a time of shame, but rather as when the team finally got it right.

For now, long live the Silver Fox.

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