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Will stadium vote cause the Dolphins to have more urgency this offseason to impress fans, voters?

This morning the Dolphins will make official what the Miami Herald confirmed on Saturday, namely that the team's attempt to secure hotel bed tax dollars and other tax breaks to help finance half of a $400 million upgrade to Sun Life Stadium would be put before the voters of Miami-Dade County in the next few months.

It's a gutsy move by the team. It's also something of a Hail Mary because even though local taxpayers are not generally having to fork over the money themselves, asking voters to  approve any tax increase of any kind (even when it's on tourists) is often not a winning proposition.

And it doesn't help that the county's elected officials did such a horrible job vetting the Marlins and dealing with that rogue organization as they negotiated a deal for the new Marlins Park. Public monies beyond bed taxes were used in that deal because the Marlins were losing money and promised to field a great lineup in exchange for their deal.

Except it was eventually learned the Marlins were making money. And the politicians never got the team to open its books before or after that fact came to light. And after one season of upgrading the roster, the club conducted a fire sale and will field a glorified Triple A team lineup this coming season to save money.

So the Marlins and the politicians that voted on their behalf screwed Miami-Dade.

And the fallout from that bomb threatens the Dolphins in this upcoming vote.

But ...

This vote also offers the Dolphins a grand, awesome opportunity. And, if embraced by the club, it can mend the recent narrow but apparent fissure between the team and its fans.

As you know, Dolphins' fans have not been thrilled with the recent direction of the team. The last four years of 7-9, 7-9, 6-10 and 7-9 were not great, but this break was coming well before that with Nick Saban lying and Bill Parcells splitting and Cam Cameron stinking.

So the love affair has been a little rocky and the historically low attendance last season was proof.

But, as I mentioned, this offseason, this vote, this time in team history is a grand and golden opportunity. Think of it, if the team reaches for greatness and that lights a fire under the fan base to turn out to the polls, we could go to August with:

1. A better team filled with promise and some actual proven stars.

2. A team whose house will be modernized.

3. A team that actually seems exciting to its fans.

4. A team that will remain in South Florida for a long, long time.

5. A team whose fans backed it at the polls.

And all this without winning a game. Indeed, all this without even playing a game.

So how does this happen?

Remember right after the season when I suggested the Dolphins handle this offseason in the fashion the Miami Heat handled the offseason in which they got Dwyane Wade re-signed, and added Chris Bosh, and LeBron James and Mike Miller?

Remember the offseason the Heat went big?

That's what the Dolphins have a chance to do this offseason with $46 million or so in salary cap space and five draft picks in the first three rounds.

And so that is the opportunity. The Dolphins can tilt the offseason, the roster, the fan base and the vote in their direction if they simply have the, um, fortitude to go big this offseason as the Heat did three years ago.

Get a bigtime playmaker or two in free agency. In other words, win in free agency. Then add talent in the draft that doesn't suggest you're going to be the same team you've been for a decade. Get that seam-threatening tight end. Get a promising safety to team with Reshad Jones. Get us some corners that knows how to do this thing recently foreign in Miami, what's it called? Oh yes, intercept the football.

Add a running back if you have to.

Hey, how about checking out the trade market, too. Percy Harvin might be out there. Explore, it! (I'm not ready to push for that move per se. But at least explore. Don't sit in a dark film room studying tape of the right guard from New Mexico, when freaking Percy Harvin is dangling out there.)

Dare to be great. And let your fans know as much.

Now, all this sounds like fanciful sportswriter mumbo jumbo, right? It's just a columnist with a vivid imagination sitting at his computer, eating twinkies and filling space.

Well, it would be that if I was lazy.

I'm not lazy.

I texted several of my Dolphins sources about this very subject Sunday. I asked if the team welcoming a vote would cause greater urgency to do something exciting?

The resulting answers were mixed.

First, the topic has not been discussed internally. Remember, the announcement is today. So there has been no grand strategy session within the organization to see if football operations can be helpful to the business side.

This, by the way, has to fall at the feet of owner Stephen Ross. He knows the business side has agreed to take the issue to the voting booth. He had to approve such a move. So once he got done with that conversation, why didn't he pick up another phone (my understanding is billionaires often have multiple phones) and call the football side and say, "Hey, general manager Jeff Ireland, we're doing this presser on Monday. We've got $200 million on the line here. The vote will likely be in May. I want to hear what you're going to do to help. And, you better help!"

That's the owner's job. He has business interests that represent $200 million dangling on a vote, it should automatically dawn on him to rally every asset within the organization to make sure the team does what most professional sports teams are in business to do: Win.

Win the offseason.

Win the fans over.

Win the vote.

(Peanut gallery speaking: "But, Mando, we want a team that wins during the season, not the offseason.")

Shaddup, ya foofs.

There are no games available to be played now, okay? And to win in the regular season, you have to build a team successfully in the offseason.

Anyway, I call on Ross, the head of the Dolphins organization, to get his business side hand and football side hand to speak to each other -- one hand working with the other -- and come up with a strategy that willl make the entire organization emerge from this victorious.

Is the business side into the idea?

Heck yes. In talking to a couple of people on that side, they completely agree that if football operations makes some significant advances or moves that convince fans the team is clearly going to be better, they are more likely to win the election.

"This would seem to be the time to make a statement," one source texted me.

That same source asked if signing a particular player would get fans fired up. I cannot divulge the name of the player used because my job is not to get sources in trouble for tampering. But suffice to say the player is a looming unrestricted free agent who makes plays.

I told the source it would help. But I believe it will take more than one player to light the excitement flames for Miami fans. Also, and more importantly, it's going to take adding more than one player to make the Dolphins much, much better. That's the beauty of all this. The business side would love signing several talented players because it helps them. The football side should love the idea of adding gobs of talent because it helps them.

Synergy!

So the business side would be pleased if this was the approach.

But, and here comes the newsy part of this post, the football side doesn't seem too excited with the idea at this point. I texted a couple of folks on that side, too.

I asked if the vote would bring greater urgency to get bigger name players.

"Nope," was one response I got.

"Doubtful," was another response. "We make football moves for the longterm well-being of the franchise, not to please fans."

Alrightie, then.

So, the football side is not on board at this time. It is going about things like this is another offseason that brings opportunities to improve. But it is not approaching this like it's make-or-break and $200 million and the long-term viability of the team in South Florida are at stake.

Do I agree with this?

Yes. And no.

I agree that winning rather than pleasing fans should be the goal. Always. But some people act like winning and adding bigtime players are mutually exclusive. BREAKING NEWS: Adding great players is what brings winning.

Also, if you're telling me that despite the need to please fans with a big name addition you would, as a hypothetical example here, refuse to pay Mike Wallace $15 million per year, I agree with you.

But, on the other hand, if you're saying you'd refuse to go to $10 million per year because you want to also add the $4 million per year guard, I'd think you're a certifiable dunce.

Deep threat. Imperative.

Guard. A grunt that isn't going to win you games.

(Peanut gallery speaking: "But Mando, you need good interior players too to win big in the NFL.")

Shaddup, ya twits.

You can't name the four guards that started in the Super Bowl and even if you could, you can't name one occassion when a guard scored in the NFL this season. And teams must score points to win. Also, the Dolphins have guards on the team already.

So where does this all leave us?

We have one side of the organization hoping the other side gets on board while the owner is in the middle having not yet broached the topic with either.

Let's hope this changes. There is still time before free agency. There is still time before the draft. There is still time before the NFL trade period opens. There is still time before the Miami-Dade County vote.

Most importantly, there is still time for the Dolphins to become a synchronized organization with all sides harmonizing toward a common goal. 

 

Comments

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..Craig M.. We are going to fundamentaly disagree. History has told us that teams that go nuts in free agency usually 9-10 get the shaft. Ideally, every team wants to build through the draft, and add pieces. Some teams, like the Peyton Manning Colts. Lived and died through free agent signings. The big difference. They had Peyton Manning.

Ireland is a smart guy..(insert the jokes here, but you do not get to be an NFL GM if you are a simpelton) He has said time and time again that this offseason was all by design. That the team was going to be aggressive, by design. That we saved so we could spend...

What is the difference between being aggressive, and going nuts? Personal approval of each deal(what I mean is if it fits with your ideas it is worthy, if not it is overkill..When I say you, it is not you Craig in particular) We will say smart moves will be seen as aggressive, ones that end up bad, reckless. But in reality they are the same choices at the root.

As I said..Ireland is smart. He may not be the best GM on the planet. But as far as going all in. What is the risk? Really. We have sucked for years. You can't tell me that if we had 2 shots to go to the Super Bowl, you wouldn't take that knowing the risk? I'm eating the apple. That is just who I am, Big risk, big reward.

Yeah maybe, Mark but he's a Hell of a player. The problem is their whole team is a mess! He's like the cherry on top of shyte. It's loses it's appeal.

They're going nowhere in the next few years and should actually look to trade him. They've NEVER trade him to us but I like this guy a lot.

Craig, I just don't think we should be signing a bunch of guys to $10M a year deals. maybe one. The rest of the guys we sign in free agency should all be in the $6-8 range (good starters but not bank breakers). Who these guys are right now, tough to say but that's why Ireland gets paid the big bucks. It's up to him to find us guys that will maximize production per dollar spent. Bring Sabremetrics to football ... don't go crazy signing the "names"

On top of that Craig, he's got a hard azzzz. Just made Mark Sanchez fumble by running into it ...

DD,

Yeah we'll disagree. I'm not saying I'm not in favour of spending in FA. I'm saying it needs to be calculated. Same thing if you got a $10K bonus at work next week, DD. To go out next day and just blow it, to me is just DUMB. Especially when you know you have to replace the car next year and that was the priority.

All I'm saying is, inhindsight the Marshall trade was DUMB. I'd rather have the two second round picks. To spend $10-11 mil on Wallace may look like a GREAt move right now but how's it going to look in 2-3 years. What if we could have accomplished MORE by actually being SMART about it. Having the money burn a hole in our pockets isn't smart.

And the Jets were TWO games away from winning a Championship two years in a row. I say BIG deal. No one will remember that in another 5 years. That's not the goal.

Good post today....

I can't wait to wake up on March 12th...christmas morning for FIN FANS...and the NFL in general....

I just that my GM is the Grinch....
i
time to lossen the draw stings on that heart that is two sizes to small....

Mark@11:31am,

I agree with your point. I don't believe we get better by signing ONE guy. I believe we get better by making smart choices. Now one of those smart choice MIGHT be signing Wallace. I don't know that. I'd tend to look at Jennings more as a wiser choice (I know DC disagrees).

Further to my point to DD, the money we spend THIS year takes away possibilities NEXT year. Remember how many people were mad at Ireland this team last year because we had no cap room to sign guys like VJax etc. By going 'NUTS' this year, as I call it, takes away those possibilities NEXT year. It's like a Rubics cube. We always have to have an eye tomwards next year, when maybe as an example we have to replace guys like Dansby, Burnett and Incognito.

But Mark,

More IMPORTANTLY, have you had a chance to check out any of the Kate Upton body paint pics in SI yet? Wow!! What a rack!!

RUN don't WALK....

Craig M...

I know its not the main topic of discussion between you and Daryl D....

but the Marshall trade was great to me....ts not our fault he was paired with one of the worst starting QBs in NFL history....

The reason the Bears aren't in the playoffs has more to due with them playing the PACK twice a year (and in the division period).....than it has to do with Marshall's play....

..Craig M..The Marshall trade was at the time the right move. We had to get a reciever(sound familiar) it didn't work out. But does that mean we shouldn't ever try again? good analogy about the bonus..Since I give the bonuses how the employees choose to use them is up to them, but I get your point.

my analogy is this. Have you ever tried to spice a hottie? Did you get denied ever? I'm sure we all have. But that doesn't mean you won't try again. You learn from your mistakes. I just want to see something to get excited about. What happens if the moves work out? I'm sure you would be ok with it. I just think with the picks we have, the cash availble. We have an opportunity to turn the tides. Will it work out? I don't know. But I would have a lot more respect for the Ireland if he went for it.

As far as the jet deal..Yeah they are a mess. And yes they never won the prize. I get that. But we haven't even sniffed success. Every situation is different. Look at the Ravens. They are in a similar situation, probably won't be close to the same team next year. But they went for it. It paid off. In most circumstances I would totaly agree with your principle. It just doesn't apply IMO to this team right now. Again just my opinion. I can be wrong and the only consequence is some good natured ribbing here.
But what if I am right?

Oh BTW...If I got a ten grand bonus..I'm spending it on a trip to Vegas...Just me.

ya'll don't mixx that cow chewing his cud w/ his mouth wide open and staring at the turf wearing sun glaxxes and clapping his hands and camp davie.?
lmao.f'ng fataxxcells.

ya'll go look at that 350# rb in hawaii
lol

..I have to roll, But one last point. I sound like a crazy person..I get it. I'm not back tracking on my stance. I just want to make clear that I am not saying go out and sign every top guy. It may sound as if this is what I am saying. But what I am advocating is that if we have the opportunity to sign a player, or 2, even 3 that may cost more then what we are comfortable paying. This is the offseason to do it. We don't have the type of roster where we get to go about this in a conservative matter.

The moves made will all be judged in hindsight. Yes they may not work. But we have seen 3-4 years of trying to fill roles with guys who are on the lower part of the talent tree(free agent wise) This is an opportunity to change this. Good players cost money. We are short on good players, not on cash. This is the time if there ever will be to take a shot.

I've got to believe, after the coaching changes last year and the offensive and defensive scheme changes, Ireland/Philbin will be looking for players to fill roles in a west coast offense with zone blocking; and defensive personnel making a better fit in a 4-3. On top of that, both Ireland & Philbin have said that they favor acquiring "value" players (acorns in the Ireland lexicon).

I don't see how that equates to a Mike Wallace in FA or any other big name. Philbin, when he arrived here, said he thought Miami had talent at WR and jettisoned B. Marshall and Chad Johnson. OK... so he was wrong all the way around. But it's evident he will try to fly with a bunch of no-names rather than risk problems with big names. We know that Jeff WILL go after big names but he rather prefers foraging under the oaks.

I like the pairing of Ireland/Philbin this year and don't see these guys taking risks that could possibly damage big. It seems like they both relish taking the smaller risks that might pay off big.

DD,

I think what I'm saying is getting lost in translation somewhere. I'm not saying add 'second-tier' FAs. I'm just saying the time to go wild isn't the right move. Maybe we're a different age, maybe that's part of our difference. I've done the hottie thing many times. Some times it worked out, some times it didn't. It was fun for a while but at the end of the day it wasn't fulfilling. At the end of the day, there was nothing between the ears, or no ambition or just someone who wasn't that interesting. So I learned from that. Maybe I got the girl who wasn't SI swimsuit material but I had a Hell of a lot more fun with her and she didn't become a bore after a while.

So I'm saying, we've been afforded a rare opportunity here. If we're smart we could set ourselves up to do really well. I'll disagree with you on the Marshall move. I wanted it at the time but in hindsight it was the WRONG move (just as trading up for Thomas has proven to be the wrong move, just as trading for Culpepper has proven to be the wrong move). Might have seemed right at the time but the DRAFT was the way to go. We see that now. I'd much rather have some of the kids who were available than some $50 million headcase. No thanks.

So I'm not saying be conservative. But we also need to think about next year too. Btw, your Ravens example is a TERRIBLE example. How did they 'go for it'? By giving up a fourth round pick three years ago for Boldin? They're the PERFECT example of a franchise that builds through the draft and doesn't make a lot of DUMB moves. Consequently they're there every year. I'd rather have a team that win a Super Bowl every ten years but makes the playoffs almost every year than a Jets team that makes back to back Championships and then is never heard from for 5 years. No thanks.

Many of you should give 30% of your salaries back to your employer considering how much time you spend here. I'll bet you didn't tell them on the job interview that personal blogging would take up a big chunk of your time. You are stealing from them by not dedicating all your time to your job.

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