All over the internet, from this site, to other blogs, to Twitter, and even the beat writers, it seems like the end is near and the Miami Dolphins are the bringers of the apocalypse. Ever rumor, partial story, or leak is debated, with most people expounding on how stupid Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is or how bad a general manager Jeff Ireland is. It's gotten so bad, you wonder, reading some of these things, how some of these people are actually Dolphins fans.
But, is it possible that things aren't as bad as they seem?
The main knocks on Ross are the celebrity owners and the entertainment things at Sun Life Stadium, as well as the Jim Harbagh fiasco last spring. But, isn't that exactly what you want your owner to be doing? Don't we, as fans, want Ross to be focused on ways to make the experience at the game enjoyable and memorable? Do we want Jerry Jones of Dan Snyder, making every football operations decision?
Ross has brought in celebrity minority owners to offset some of the $1 billion dollar investment he made to purchase the team. Oh my goodness - it's the end of the world. Now Venus Williams might.....do absolutely nothing with the portion of the team she bought. Who cares if Ross sells a portion of the team - which is his to do with as he pleases - to a celebrity? What effect does that have on the football being played on the field?
Now, the Harbaugh mess was exactly that, a mess. But, it was a mess with good intentions. Ross knew Harbaugh was the coach to go after - and he went after him. Should he have done it with Tony Sparano still employed by the team? Maybe not - but Ross saw an opportunity to improve the team, and he took a chance. But, now he gets derided because he showed he wants to make the Dolphins better.
Again, isn't this what we want from an owner?
Then there's Jeff Ireland. It seems like the only person who wants to keep Ireland with the Dolphins is Ross. It's so bad that fans took up a donation to fly a banner over the stadium demanding Ross fire Ireland. But, why is everyone so out to get Ireland?
Because Dolphins fans need change for change's sake. It has nothing to do with Ireland - he's just the target. Miami Dolphins fans just want to see change, because change brings hope that things will get better. Of course, those same fans are the first ones to complain when the change doesn't work - or even worse, when the person they demanded be cut or fired does well in their next job.
Ireland has had one year of doing his job as the top guy for the Dolphins. One. Sure, he's been employed with the team over the last four years, during which the team has had questionable draft moves. But, can you say that those decisions were Ireland's and not former Vice President of Football Operations Bill Parcells' moves? Bet you can't. Just like none of us can. Did he have input? Sure. Just like Tony Sparano did. But, when it came down to it, no move could be made without Parcells' agreement.
So, in the one year without Parcells, Ireland had a solid draft, bringing in Pro Bowl alternate Mike Pouncey as a center, when no one else said he could play the position. He grabbed Clyde Gates and Charles Clay, both of whom contributed on the team, despite being 4th and 6th round picks, respectively. He also landed Jimmy Wilson, a guy who could have been a first round draft pick a couple of years ago if not for a two year stint in jail before being acquitted of murder, bringing in Wilson with a seventh round pick, and having him contribute, to include starts this year. In the second round, Ireland took Daniel Thomas, who, despite battling injuries all year, still had moments where he showed the potential the Dolphins want in a rookie running back.
Overall, a very solid draft, with only defensive tackle Frank Kearse not having an impact on the team. Kearse spent the early part of the year on the practice squad before being snatched up by the Carolina Panthers.
Ireland also grabbed Reggie Bush, trading a draft pick and Jonathan Amaya to the Saints for the running back the team wanted. Bush was expected to be released by the Saints, meaning his salary price tag could have jumped significantly if other teams got involved. Instead, Miami saw a guy they wanted, while trading a way a guy lost on their depth chart. Bush being in Miami seems to have worked out okay for the Dolphins.
Yes, Ireland brought in Marc Colombo as well. And, yes, we all saw how bad Colombo was. But, Ireland and Sparano were with the Cowboys when Colombo actually played well. Guaranteed the two thought he could get back to that form two years after his broken leg. But, it didn't work.
How can you hold Ireland responsible for moves he may not have made? Look at the Jimmy Graham vs. John Jerry third round draft choice. Parcells has said, the team wanted Graham. Parcells even wanted Graham, but he thought Jerry was the better pick in the third round, and that he could grab Graham in the fourth round. When the New Orleans Saints selected Graham later in the third round, Parcells called the Saints and said it was a great choice.
How do you hold that against Ireland? And that was just the 2010 draft.
And, can we please stop complaining about former Dolphins we see with other teams? Every time a former Dolphin makes a play for someone else, people start screaming about how dumb the Dolphins are to rid of that guy. You know, we missed out on Drew Brees. But, at least we didn't cut Brees. San Diego did.
As a fan base, we love to scream that a player is a bum, he's a bust, he's trash. We need to cut this guy immediately. He doesn't perform. Then, when he does anything for a different team, the complaints about how dumb the front office is to get rid of that guy, start. If you want a player gone - or if a player left to bring in a 1,000 yard running back that excited the fan base, a move largely applauded as a great decision - you can't then complain when he develops into something. Not every single player comes out of college and makes a huge impact right away. There's a thing called development. But, as Dolphins fans, we seem to want immediate impact, or we want change for change's sake.
Now, the number one thing to hold against Ross and Ireland is the team's "failure" to land Jeff Fisher. After Jim Harbaugh went to the San Francisco 49ers despite Ross and Ireland's advances, Fisher deciding to go to the St. Louis Rams has been seen as the end of the Miami Dolphins' as a respectable franchise. Ross, according to many published comments and posts, is such a horrible owner, that he can't bring in a big name coach. Ireland is such a problem that no coach will work with him.
Yet, as kmb8488 pointed out recently, Fisher is not even the coach we as fans should have been drooling over. You even have Dolphins beat writers looking at what Fisher is doing in St. Louis and questioning the desire to land the "top candidate" this offseason.
Now, we are also starting to see things about Fisher's contract that make it apparent that Fisher never intended to become the head coach of the Dolphins. Fisher's 5-year, $35 million contract comes out to $7 million a year. That number put him in the upper echelon of coaches, but it still lower than what Ross would have paid, and, reportedly, offered to Fisher.
But, according to Fisher, it was non-monetary decisions that led him to the Rams. So, it must have been the power struggle Fisher saw with having to deal with Ireland for personnel decisions. After all, Ireland's contract explicitly states that he answers only to Ross, and that he has final say in personnel decisions. Fisher, reportedly, was asking the Dolphins to make him the Vice President of Football Operations and give him final say in all personnel matters - essentially making him Ireland's boss. When Ross would not allow that, the talks reportedly broke down.
Yet, he has none of that in St. Louis. He is the head coach. He has as much input in the GM search there as he wants, but the GM will still run personnel, while Fisher runs the coaching side. So, Fisher is willing to have equal say, or less than equal say, with a GM in St. Louis, but couldn't do that in Miami?
Fisher said, before the search began, that the two things he was looking for was a quarterback and a good owner. He ruled the teams down to St. Louis and Miami - looking at the owners at that point. All the reports and comments that Fisher was making a slight at Ross during his press conference by saying his decision came down to a good owner need to relax and make sure they get the full quote in context - it was a comment made even before he interviewed with the Dolphins. Then, the quarterback situation came in to play, with the Rams having Sam Bradford already in place, and the second overall draft choice if Fisher isn't sold on Bradford. The Dolphins could not compete with that.
Fisher is comfortable in the mid-west. It's where he lives now. He never planned to leave the mid-west, unless it was to return home to California. The Dolphins were a pawn in Fisher's negotiations with the Rams, plain and simple. Miami is not the first team to be used like that, and won't be the last.
Remember, the Dolphins snatched Bill Parcells from the Atlanta Falcons in 2007, despite the Falcons believing they were leading in the sweepstakes to land the football "czar."
Ross and Ireland did not lose Fisher. If anything, they made him think a little longer about not going to St. Louis. But, in the end, Fisher went to the place he wanted to go to in the first place. And, that decision has nothing to do with Ireland or Ross. That was Fisher's decision.
Maybe, with a front office that did not sell the farm to get Kyle Orton - who was benched for Tim Tebow, remember - actually can make decent decisions. Maybe, just maybe, there is a plan in place. But, just like the Army says - the enemy has a vote. Every plan changes as soon as you start to execute it, because the enemy gets to have input there too. There are unforeseen obstacles in the execution of every plan. Ross and Ireland are working their way through those obstacles right now.
Let's give them the benefit of the doubt that they really do have the Dolphins' best interests in mind. And, let's see what happens as the coaching search continues - rather than react with such emotion to every single piece of information, true or rumor, simply because we want change for change's sake.