It was a crazy day around the Miami Dolphins' training facility, with media staked out and constant updates of who was entering or leaving the building. Of course, the biggest news was the arrival of owner Stephen Ross, who landed in his helicopter on the team's practice field early in the morning, and did not leave until darkness fell.
Ross is thought to be considering exactly how and where to make changes to an organization that completely collapsed down the stretch of the regular season, losing their final two game when one win would have them practicing this week for the playoffs, instead of using those fields as a helipad. But, no decision seems to have been made, and the waiting game continues.
Rumors continue to circulate, with Joe Philbin, Jeff Ireland, Mike Sherman, and Jim Turner all on and off the chopping block depending on the time of day. The only constant right now is that Ross is considering everybody and everything, and no one knows what, exactly, he is thinking.
Will Ross end the employment of Ireland, who has served as the team's general manager for six years, at least three of which he was the final say on all personnel moves, but has not built a playoff team since his first season in 2008? Ireland is much despised in the fan base, and relieving him of his duties could be a shot in the arm to the fans. But, it could also derail whatever three year plan Ireland and Philbin designed when Ross hired Philbin as head coach two years ago. If Ireland is out, but Philbin stays on as head coach, finding a new GM could be difficult, unless the new executive is given the right to fire Philbin if he/she so chooses.
The number one target at this point seems to be Sherman, the offensive coordinator. The Miami offense was disappointing this season, to say the least, with no ability to run the ball, questionable play calling, and constant sacks of quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The excitement of bringing in a player like Mike Wallace, a second year for Tannehill, and the expected impact of Lamar Miller's insertion as the starting running back simply never materialized.
But, even if Ross wants Sherman out, according to Philbin's contract, the head coach has all say in the hiring or firing of the coaching staff. Will Philbin relieve his mentor of duties as offensive coordinator? Or, will Ross have to consider removing Philbin in order to get rid of Sherman? Could Philbin argue that the problem with the team was not the coaching, but rather the player, laying the full blame on Ireland and possibly saving Sherman's job?
Jim Turner seems like the off man out, however. The offensive line was simply a mess, allowing a franchise record and league high 58 sacks this season. The Jonathan Martin bullying allegations and subsequent suspension of Richie Incognito only strengthened the turmoil surrounding the line, but it all comes down to Turner. He did not have the offensive line ready when the season started, and he appears to be the man in the position most likely to take the brunt of the blame - if there is any to be taken - whenever the NFL's report on the bullying situation is finalized. But, again, Philbin could argue that Ireland failed to provide players of the caliber needed, and, once he did make the trade that brought tackle Bryant McKinnie to the franchise, Turner was able to get better performance out of the line.
However this ends up, it is unlikely to completely satisfy the blood-lust the fan base is currently feeling. Heads need to roll, and no one is quite sure whose head it should be. Will firing Ireland be enough to calm the fans? Would just relieving Sherman of his job be enough? Does Ross need to give up and blow up the entire organization?
If he does that, will any head coach want to come to Miami, having seen how Philbin was only given two years to make something happen?
There are a lot of questions surrounding the Dolphins. There's only one man who can provide any sort of answer. So, now, we all continue to wait for Mr. Ross to make a decision. Hopefully, he makes the right one and the Dolphins can start moving towards a better 2014.