Many times I've heard people say that Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is a bit incompetent. He's even shown himself to be just that with how he handled the attempted in-season hiring of Jim Harbaugh in 2011 while Tony Sparano was still the head coach in Miami.
Even so, how can a multi-billionare real estate fiend be incompetent? Well, that's exactly what I intend to shed light on today.
Despite witnessing Ross' low-blow move on Tony Sparano, I've always had a certain respect and admiration for Ross because he's an owner who wants to win and is willing to do (and spend) whatever it takes to do so.
But after a dissection of this franchise, and the front office, it became clear to me one crucial mistake. Ross has no established Vice President of Football Operations, a position in charge of the entire football side of the organization. Instead Ross has the people involved with the football side of things, Head Coach Joe Philbin and General Manager Dennis Hickey, report straight to him.
This was the big controversy last offseason during the Dolphins' GM search. The question was what GM would want to come to Miami with this power structure in place?
That "report-straight-to-me" structure that has Ross lying at the top collecting reports from his head coach and general manager, essentially putting the two positions on level ground, is a problem.
Instead of reporting to a football guy who not only possess knowledge of what they are trying to accomplish, but can also provide viable alternatives, the GM and HC report straight to Ross himself.
This is where Ross gets himself in trouble. Winning starts at the top of any organization, and Ross has put himself in a position, right or wrong, to be the blame of Miami's lack of winning.
It's Ross's eagerness to see the Dolphins succeed that drives this decision. Ross wants to be involved with the decisions to ensure that they are the right ones, but Ross doesn't possess enough football knowledge to genuinely know if what he is hearing is correct.
Sure Ross has his advisors, such as Carl Peterson and Mike Tannenbaum, but people like this almost create a layer of mistrust between Ross and his higher-up employees.
"Ross turns to these advisors, these outside-the-building sources to review the plan I had just ran by him? What do they know about what we're trying to build here?"
If Ross did something as simple as hire one of his advisors into this VP of football operations role, he could join the team, give his insight, provide some leadership and work towards building an identity for this Dolphins team.
The Dolphins lack leadership, trust and clear vision. Ross is far less qualified in football operations than those who he has hired and who are reporting to him, which creates a uprising of doubt. Does this real-estate tycoon even know what he is even looking for? Is he just responding to what he thinks sounds good?
These are the questions that wouldn't have to be asked if Ross had established a qualified VP of football operations to supervise instead of essentially committing himself to that role.
The thing is this-- Ross wants to win. He wants to win so bad that he has his nose a bit to far into things he doesn't quite understand.
That's where he goes wrong and that's what truly makes him an incompetent owner.
It's tough to put blame directly on Ross for not knowing how to build a winning organization. That's something he can hopefully learn in time. Even so, the lack of leadership and winning within his organization is Ross's fault, one way or another.
You could say that too many chefs in the kitchen spoils the stew, but if the lead chef doesn't quite know how to cook then the stew is sure to be spoiled anyway.