As the Miami Dolphins head away from yet another non-playoff season and into free agency and the draft, fans are coming to a consensus of what the team needs in order to ensure improvement during 2013. Fans can only hope that team management is on the same page.
1. Active AND PRODUCTIVE leadership from owner Stephen Ross.
Stephen Ross has said he’ll devote himself and his financial resources to making the team better. This is active participation, and it sounds good in theory.
However, nearly every single time Mr. Ross is in the news, it has nothing to do with helping the Dolphins win. It is not productive for Ross to court celebrity owners, pursue real estate investments with AEG in Los Angeles, and toy with the team’s treasured logo. He is active, yes. But not productive. Some will indicate that his latest attempt to upgrade the Dolphins’ stadium is meant to help the team, but don’t be naïve; it’s for business purposes.
Ross needs to stop worrying about the city of Miami landing a future Super Bowl. He needs to worry about the Miami Dolphins winning a Super Bowl. Fans don’t care what city it’s played in.
2. Improved leadership from Coach Joe Philbin.
Most fans were intrigued when Joe Philbin was hired to be the head coach. But then a bit of reality set in. Fans knew that Philbin was the coordinator of Green Bay’s potent offense, but then they learned the fine print: Philbin didn’t call the plays in Green Bay. Philbin was not involved in drafting and personnel decisions. Philbin didn’t develop Aaron Rogers. So what did he do?
Other experienced coaches were available to be hired last year, and Philbin needs to show fans that he was the right man. So far, he has not. It’s not time to give up yet, but it’s not time to forgive rookie mistakes anymore either.
Philbin thought that such guys as Legedu Naanee and Anthony Armstrong were better players than Brandon Marshall. Miami had a weak secondary to begin with, and then Philbin decided to cut Vontae Davis for committing a penalty in a meaningless scrimmage game. Philbin thus made the defense worse, not better. Terrible personnel decisions. Just terrible. Philbin doesn’t want distracting players? Good luck with that, coach. It’s the NFL. A strong coach deals with his head cases and makes them better. He doesn’t just give them away.
3. Reggie Bush.
Mr. Ross, you need to back up your words when you say you will spend money to win.
Case in point: Why isn’t Reggie Bush signed already? Jake Long? Others?
Granted, there is some doubt about Jake Long’s health and productivity, but Bush and some others are no brainers. But Mr. Ross has allowed G.M. Jeff Ireland to dilly-dally with the Dolphins’ only exciting, game-breaking player. Miami’s only star.
Has Ireland forgotten how Reggie faked out 10 of 11 Raiders defenders on his way the best TD run of the year? There is simply no one else on the team who has demonstrated such talent. And Ireland is about to let Reggie go, unless Mr. Ross steps in to end this nonsense.
Be a miser if you want, but at least tell your fans you’re going to be a miser. Don’t be a miser while telling your fans you’re going to spend.
Previously, Miami’s most exciting stud of a player was Marshall, but the Dolphins regime traded him away for some unknown draft picks. And we all saw how that turned out.
Last November 4, Marshall caught three TD passes in one game.
The Dolphins entire roster of wide receivers caught three all season.
Learn from this mistake Stop this silliness and stop thinking that some young rookie or a journeyman benchwarmer is going to be better than what you have now. Instead, sign the players who’ve been productive and loyal and want to stay. Overpay if needed. Spend the money (as you said you would) and get Reggie.
4. Wrangle in a little power from Ireland/Philbin/Sherman.
Philbin immediately went out and hired his old friend Mike Sherman to run the Dolphins’ offense. Sherman, you may note, was fired in Green Bay after going 4-12 as the Packers’ head coach. He was then fired from Texas A&M for going .500 and losing both of the Bowl games he coached in. His record is not awe-inspiring, and it should have raised Mr. Ross’s eyebrows to learn that Philbin and Sherman were old friends.
To make matters worse, Sherman then went out and hired his own son-in-law to become a Dolphins’ coach, and he recently promoted that same son-in-law to QB Coach. There are hundreds (thousands?) of capable, experienced QB coaches, all eager and hungry to coach at the NFL level.
Can Mr. Ross honestly look Dolphin fans in the eye and say that Mike Sherman’s son-in-law was the very best of the best?
Who else was interviewed? What was the vetting process? Never mind the Rooney Rule; what about the common sense rule? Please, Mr. Ross, step in and demand accountability.
5. Better in-game decisions.
In the Dolphins game vs. Arizona, Miami had a seven-point lead with just over two minutes left. The Dolphins had the ball in Cardinals territory. First down. The clock was running. Reggie Bush had just carried three plays in a row and gained 24 yards. The tired Cards simply could not stop him. The victory was imminent. Easy.
A couple more handoffs, and the Cards would use all their timeouts. At worst, Miami punts with a minute to go and force the Cards to go at least 80 yards with an overrated QB like Kevin Kolb. Miami had this game easily.
But instead of handing the ball to Reggie, Coach Mike Sherman called for a pass play. The logic of that call is brutally mind-numbing, and the result speaks for itself. Sack. Fumble. Turnover. Lost game. Mike Sherman had some explaining to do for his atrocious call.
Instead, he just said it was the right call at the time. His friend Joe Philbin defended him. Stephen Ross was not heard from.
Fans want more than that. They absolutely deserve more. When a play loses you the game and the coach still thinks it was the right play instead of apologizing to fans, something is wrong.
It is shameful that Mike Sherman handed that victory away and faced no repercussions.
6. Scrutiny of Jeff Ireland.
Finally, I’m not one of the lemmings who demands that Jeff Ireland be fired after every loss. However, I also don’t blindly side with him no matter what. Mr. Ross needs to take the middle ground here. Let Ireland know he’s on the hot seat. And, more specifically, let him know he’s on the hot seat not because the fans demand it, but because his decisions simply have not helped the team. Yet. Let’s wait and see.