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Shotgun weddings are a bad idea

I have reported that if Stephen Ross is moved to fire someone as part of the blame game for the locker room harassment scandal or as a result of a season not meeting expectations, he is more likely to fire general manager Jeff Ireland than head coach Joe Philbin.

Ross said nothing to separate himself from that report when he spoke to the media Monday night and poured the love on thick for Philbin and didn't mention Ireland at all, other than to say the general manager is on one of his two newly appointed committees.

The bottom line?

Barring a significant change in the course for the season and the NFL investigation, it is clear Ross is apt to get rid of Ireland and keep Philbin.

And that is a terrible mistake.

No, I'm not saying firing Ireland is a mistake. I'm saying half measures are a mistake. I'm saying scapegoating is a mistake. I'm saying everyone in the Dolphins football side of the organization is responsible for the current state of affairs and picking one guy here or there to pin it on is a mistake.

I advocate full measures. If you're going to fire, then everyone should go. If you're going to keep folks, then keep everyone.

Why do I say this?

Because I'm tired of the Dolphins being a poorly run, embarrassing act that everyone else in the NFL views as a clinic for getting it wrong the past decade or so.

To me, firing an underperforming GM but keeping an underperforming coach is like identifying a cancer but getting chemo for only part of the tumor. I see it as an incomplete measure. I see it as a set-up for continued failure.


It is clear, if one studies the NFL, that teams that take these half measures typically fail.

Let's start with the Dolphins themselves.

In January 2000, Jimmy Johnson who served as both coach and GM for the Dolphins retired. But rather than go out and start anew and seek a fresh direction, Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga allowed the man who was leaving to name his successor. Think of that. Don Shula, the winningest coach of all time, was ushered out by Huizenga and not allowed to name a successor. But Johnson was given that privilege and he named a friend to be Miami's next coach and final personnel authority.

And the organization got the Dave Wannstedt error as a result.

Wannstedt quit or was told he'd be fired thus left late in the 2004 season. Nick Saban was hired as coach in January 2005. And he kept Rick Spielman as the general manager.

It was a nightmare for both men.

Spielman left after one season under Saban. It was a mutual parting. (Yeah, right).

Saban hired Randy Mueller as his new GM.

And after one more season Saban left.

And Huizenga kept Mueller and promoted him, giving him final say over personnel. And in return Mueller had to accept the hiring of Cam Cameron. And Cameron was of a coaching stature that he had to accept Mueller.

And the Dolphins went 1-15.

When Bill Parcells was hired he cleaned house. It was painful to Mueller and Cameron, but the Dolphins were going in a new direction and Parcells wanted new people. Hey, you know what, it ultimately didn't work. But I get the approach. I agree with the approach.

When the Parcells-Tony Sparano-Jeff Ireland trio obviously didn't work, I would have expected owner Stephen Ross to start anew.

Of course, he did not.

He kept Ireland and, as a result, multiple high-caliber coaches declined to even consider the Dolphins open coaching job in January 2012. Jon Gruden didn't. Bill Cowher didn't. The Dolphins got to the interview stage with Jeff Fisher but he wanted to bring his own personnel people and Ross wanted to retain Ireland.

So Fisher went to St. Louis.

So Ross had to resort (yes, resort) to interviewing coaches who did not have the prominence, history or cache to be able to pick their own personnel people. So Ross hired Joe Philbin.

And now that things are going poorly (again) the team (again) seems poised to get rid of one part of the leadership that authored the problem but not the other? Is this Groundhog Day?

The Dolphins are not the only team that has had this issue.

Teams such as Green Bay, Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, Cleveland, Carolina and the Jets have made changes to one end of the organization but not the other. You know what? It rarely works.

The Packers hired Ted Thompson and relieved Mike Sherman (yes, that Mike Sherman) of his GM duties. Sherman stayed as coach. A year later, Thompson fired Sherman as coach, completing in two years what should have been done in one.

The Bears hired a new GM last year and he was told to keep Lovie Smith. Then after one season, he fired Smith after a 10-6 season.

The Broncos kept GM Brian Xanders when they hired John Elway and Elway hired John Fox. And then Xanders left (was pushed out of) the organization.

The idea of addressing one part of a failing product but not the other is a setup for drama -- even when it succeeds. The New York Jets last year fired GM Mike Tannenbaum but not coach Rex Ryan. The Carolina Panthers similarly replaced their GM but kept coach Ron Rivera.

You know where Ryan and Rivera found themselves at the start of this season before even one game was played? On the hot seat. Under the microscope. All of the attention was about their impending divorce from GMs that had been forced to keep them.

And, yes, both those coaches have done a fine job and rallied their teams. But that has surprised people because it is the exception rather than the rule. And even recently when Jets GM John Idzik was asked if he was now sold on Ryan, he gave some cryptic answer about everyone being evaluated at the end of the season.

Shotgun weddings don't work, folks.

They are usually followed by unhappy times and drama. They typically end in divorce.

Anyone with any sense of Dolphins history would know this because the team has lived it first-hand. Anyone with any knowledge of the NFL has seen it time and again.

And yet, looking off into the next few weeks, that's the direction the Dolphins seem headed.



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Good read & spot on. You would think Ross would have learned his lesson when he mistakenly didn't fire Ireland with Sporano.

The dummy will likely do it again now. Ireland is to blame for horrid personnel & talent evaluation. If ANYONE is to blame for the locker room drama, it's more on Philbin than Ireland.

Philbin himself said the locker room is his responsibility. Both should be fired for the ineptitude & ineffectiveness in their respective positions. Not have 1 fall on the swrd for Ross over this locker room witch hunt. The fact is, they have BOTH underperformed.

If Ireland is fired & Philbin isn't, the new GM should come in here & fire Philbin like Fatty Parcells did with Cameron. Philbin is to blame for the locker room mess & Ireland is to blame for putting the coaches & players in the locker rom.


still need a qb


witch hunt?
ya'll goin after aponte huh?

Of course Mando, wouldn't expect anything less. Between two options (the right and the wrong) the Dolphins ALWAYS choose the wrong.

I could not possibly agree with you more here Armando.

Good piece, well presented. Just hope Ross reads it...

AMEN ... all or nothing.

True geniuses are never appreciated in their own lifetimes. So goes it with Jeff Ireland.

There really are too few qualified head coaches and general managers for the Miami Dolphins to choose from. Especially when you consider ones that are acquaintances that are willing to work together. Furthermore, hiring acquaintances has not been a proven path for success in the NFL. IMO, behind closed doors, Coach Philbin is not happy with the players GM Ireland is obtains. Case in point Mike Wallace who is not the type of WR Coach Philbin likes and covets. Kudos to Coach Philbin for not making this public and keeping it professional by handling his dislike in private. This is why Mr. Ross has respect for him.

Don't rush to judgement just yet. I believe Ross will allow the new GM to make the final decision on the coach. We've seen plenty of owners heap praise on their coaches, then turn around and fire them. I doubt Ross will hire a GM with the caveat that they MUST keep the current coach. But, if a new GM comes in and doesn't want to totally reset this team, he can keep Philbin and continue to develop Tannehill. This team has tremendous talent on it. No need to completely reset everything. Philbin may or may not be the right guy for the job, but I don't want Ross (a non-football guy) making that decision.

When choosing between 2 evils, I like to try the one I haven't tried yet first.

Mando I agree both should go
a completely new team of coaches and GM should be given the opprortunity to re shape the Dolphins
After the locker room incident it would be shocking that only the GM is fired
As good as Philbin might or might not be we need new blood to clean up the mess.
Now if Philbin had a 7 and 2 record - hey I would say he is working out - but he is pathetic as a coach the go or go-go is just a small illustration of it. Telling Richie to toughen up Martin; not allowing the QB to change the cadence to pull the defense off sides - wrong plays at the wrong time - sticking with something that does not work - refusing to push the GM to fix the OL problem - etc etc so Philbin is a nice guy but not an NFL caliber coach
I will be surprised if we win more than 2 of our remaining games

LOL, & 2 Watt,

agree, & agree! nuff said.

Armando, please read Greg Cote's column. You might learn something. Also, the players being picked mostly by Ireland have not panned out. Take Wallace for example: He stretches the field, yes, but a) he never runs a good route, b) can't block worth a damn, NEVER, EVER fights for the ball and often quits on routes taking 2nd and 3rd reads away from Tannehill. Also, and think on this please, have we had an outstanding offensive line since Ireland has been the GM? Or how many times has the defense been able to stop another team when it counted? Who picked those players?

Before we rush Philbin out the door, perhaps more of the taint is Ireland's than Philbin's. I would hope when, and if, we do get a new GM that the new GM would have the salt to make the right decision about Philbin.

I think there is no doubt Philbin is a classy, high character guy. But that is not the issue here, the issue is the team is not well coached. Bellicheat is a classless, lying cheat, but he's also a genius when it comes to the defensinve side of the ball, and puts his players is a position to be successful.
That is not happening in Miami.

I don't blame Philbin for the Icognito/Martin mess. Icognito and Martin are to blame as the details of it were kept hidden from the coaches and most of the players for the entire duration. Ireland is to blame for a roster full of holes by drafting busts and signing free agent disappointments to large contracts.

Marc, maybe one way to test a Qb's ability to throw a deep ball is yards per completion??

If that's the case, the best in the NFL this year is Michael Vick at 19.8 yards per completion. the top ten spell out as follows ...

Michael Vick, QB
Colin Kaepernick, QB
Terrelle Pryor, QB
Nick Foles, QB
Russell Wilson, QB
Aaron Rodgers, QB
Geno Smith, QB
Robert Griffin III, QB
Cam Newton, QB
Andrew Luck, QB

(as I channel my inner jimmy the greek, there's a lot of dark skinned fellows up there ...)

So yeah, some good qbs up there, some not so good. Not sure how being a mad bomber comcludes that you're a good qb.

As a matter of fact the following Qbs have a lower than average yards per completion ...

Drew Brees, QB
Matthew Stafford, QB
Andy Dalton, QB
Peyton Manning, QB
Jay Cutler, QB
Ben Roethlisberger, QB
Philip Rivers, QB
Tom Brady, QB
Joe Flacco, QB
Alex Smith, QB
Tony Romo, QB
Sam Bradford, QB
Matt Ryan, QB

So yeah ... I don't know what to say about that. My personal preference is to get a qb that simply moves the chains, scores points, and keeps the turnovers down. Tannehill needs to get better on the last but all things considered he's not bad with the other two already. I surely hope this isn't the best of the guy we will see though, but as far as early returns, they certainly are not bad.

Eddie, no offense but, it's almost laughable to suggest Ireland targeted & prioritized Wallace as the top FA signing if Philbin & Sherman weren't 100% on board with the choice. Wallace isn't what this offense needed but, there is no way Ireland signed him without Philbin's assurance he'd fit into the system.

Was it the wrong choice? Maybe! But, it could also be that Wallace is not being utilized correctly by this incompetent coaching staff.

The same coaching staff whose D is bottom 3rd in the league against the run & won't play their #3 pick because he's soft against the run. How bad of a drop off could he cause? Not much!

Coaching staff is over their heads! Why draft players & not play them? Wasting their careers on the bench & wasting money for no reason. With the injuries to Patterson & Carrol there is NO reason Taylor & Davis shouldn't be on the field.

Top to bottom this franchise needs an enema!

...Nothing to add for me..All or nothing. This has been my opinion since Ross press conference last week. I do understand why publicly he would stray away from throwing Philbin under the bus right now..It does no good. The team. as dysfunctional as it appears to be. Is still in the playoff hunt. Internaly there is still a hope this season is not lost...But who knows if this is how Ross really feels about Philbin?

As far as Mike Walalce goes, everyone go back to last season and Stephen Ross saying acquiring a top WR was his #1 objective. WEll, they certainly got the ebst one in free agency. So before we all put this at whoever's feet, be careful .. I think Wallace was at least a directive coming down from the top if not an entire franchise directive.

MassDolphan, is the team not well coached or are players flat out unable to perform adequately? Numerous Offensive lineman whiffing on blocks is not coaching, it's a players inability to do his job. The Dolphins roster is full of OL unable to block effectively.

Incognito files Grievance against Fins ...

ahaha, awesome


You can't quantify everything with stats man...You just can't. Look at the list. I'd choose a few from each side, no? Wouldn't you?

Do you ever watch games that aren't Dolphins games?

I never did for many, many years

There are EXCITING, HIGH-SCORING, TD Heavy games going on.

It's like we brought a Pinto to the NASCAR race!

Watching this team is like getting your teeth pulled without novacaine

This "throw the baby out with the bathwater" approach also means that the Dolphins are set back for another five years. Perhaps Ross believes that Philbins approach to the team is the right one. We frankly haven't seen enough of Philbin to make the kind of judgement you propose and I frankly feel its a completely knee-jerk proposal being made in the heat of an emotional situation. Flushing everyone out means player personal changes to adapt to a new system. The contracts and salary caps will be set back years. If Ross believes that Ireland must go so be it. I disagree but at least the foundation of the organization stays intact and can build upon what here player wise. What you are suggesting here is a bad idea...your motivation is right, your arguement is flawed.

@Mark in Toronto, Wallace was the best WR available in Free Agency but comparing him to No. 1 WRs his skill set leaves a lot to be desired. Ireland overpaid for him and he has to play but he clearly doesn't fit Phiblin's offensive philosophy where WRs should be able to play several WR positions and block. IMO, Wallace can't read coverages and make adjustments as dictated by the defense. He also is not physical and can't compete for balls or use his body to shield defenders to make a catch.

Just curious... What would have happened if Wallace chose not to come here? Everyone would have blamed Ireland. Now, everyone is blaming Ireland for the Wallace signing. Don't get me wrong, Ireland HAS to go (and so does Sherman), but to blame him for bringing in Wallace is weak. Greg Jennings may have been a slightly better choice, but signing Wallace was not a mistake. How Sherman uses him is a sin.

That means technically Richie can come back to the team, no?

Or he's forcing the team's hand to cut him.

Marc, problem is you watch Dolphins games while being too emotionally involved. I'm guilty of the same so I lean to quants to see if I'm ebing irrational or not.

Fact: Dolphins offense scores 21.4 ppg... 20th overall. They are right in there in the middle of the pack teams..

The quarterback has some good and not so good metrics. In the end, he also sits right around the middle of the pack.

They are not a high powered offensive team. But did you really expect that?? Honestly, was that a real expectation for you? I was expecting average and that's what I got.

the source of my frustration is not the offense, but it is the defense which has most of the high picks, pro bowls, and salary cap allocated to it but is average to below average in all metrics.

So yeah, I'm frustrated but it is not with the offense (other than the o line)

Eddie, I was not analyzing Wallace's skills but merely questioning who exactly made the decision to bring this guy to Miami

Sounds like it Marc, he either wants his money, get back on the team or cut...

Can't blame him. This suspension is wonky at best.

20th out of 32 is not middle homie, haha. closer to the bottom 3rd than the middle

First question for a prospective head coach: what is your plan to teach Tannehill the ropes & get more out of him?

... Okay, maybe that's the 2d question. 1st question, do you use the n-word in tweets and voicemails?

I look at 1-10 as being good, 11-20 as average, 21-32 as below average. Top tier, middle tier, lower tier.

If Ross keeps Philbin no decent GM will come to Miami in the next 4-6 years. In this case he should be forced to sell the team by NFL. And he can forget about a new stadium (not in my lifetime).

Great article Mondo. Ross needs to realize he can't do another half a$$ed decision and keep the coach and replace the GM. Let's throw out the baby with the bathwater this time. No self respecting GM will look a the job seriously with Philbin as coach. Fisher and Harbaugh passed at the job being associated with Ireland. It is time to clean house. Is Scott pioli still out there? Is Ken Whisenhunt looking for a Head Coaching Position? They are both upgrades over what the Dolphins currently have. The sooner we make the change the better. We need to start preparing for the 2014 NFL draft now. It is pretty much a given that we are going to have a top 10 pick this year. Let us get a real scouting staff in place and STOP looking at players with injuries in the draft. This seems to be a prerequisite for Ireland. Is the guy injured? Good,let's move up in the draft and take him ala Thomas and Jordan. Get my drift Mr. Ross?

The real issue with this article is simple - Philbin is not a member of Armando's church.

Armando this is possibly the best article you have ever written.....I agree 100% and advocated as much since hearing Ross speak this week. You do not handcuff a new GM with somebodies elses coaching staff. It just does not work. All it does is limit the caliber of the GM we get.
I think Ross is on the right track this time with his committee of Shula, Marino, Taylor....outsiders like Dungy and Martin? not so much. Let the former Dolphin greats lead the owner in the right direction.

Well, hopefully they reinstate Richie. They can definitely use him. He should have appealed immediately.

Word from Dolphins HQ is that Jeff Ireland is taking all of this very seriously and is actively campaigning to be retained. He wants another chance; and makes it clear he does not want to be remembered as the Matt Millen of the Dolphins. He seems very energized and engaged today. He went person to person around the office to make it abundantly clear they knew that his draft picks were all consensus decisions, and that all coaches were in agreement on every pick. This morning, a beautiful flower arrangement was delivered to Dawn Aponte, along with colorful and festive helium balloons, compliments of Jeff Ireland. The regular Thursday massage was canceled, and Jeff Ireland was at his desk promptly at 9 am. No games of free cell on his computer today; he has been on the phone and reviewing the waiver wire, and sending email reports to Mr. Ross about the upcoming draft. He even asked his assistant to let his wife know he would miss the beginning of his 9 year old son's 3 pm. soccer game.
The general feeling in the office is that this selfless dedication will translate into a bright future for the Dolphins. There won't be any forgetting of the offensive line this year; Jeff Ireland will stay focused on his job, even if it means his family won't see as much of him.

Selling a lot of season tickets latey Mr Ross? Your product stinks so the fans have left you. You have killed this once proud franchise!

Just the fact Philbin was so clueless about the OL (Incognito in particular)situation is an indictment on his ineptitude. He was supposed to do what Sporano didn't, develop players. Well, the OL sucks worse than any in team history, the #3 overall pick rarely plays and 2 DB's drafted this year that can't beat out Nolan Carroll. The only reason I was onboard with his hiring was because I was under the impression this offense would resemble Green Bay's. Philbin didn't even call the plays there. Please Mr. Ross, send them both away. Don't be afraid to take the reigns and find someone on your own. You made wise decisions seeking out knowledgeable people for your committees, just use the same philosophy in your search for a GM & coach.

Mark, what fails the O is the OL. It also fails the D.

Everyone blames Tanny for the inaccurate long ball but, I don't think people realize he is tryting to throw a 40 yard pass 1.5 seconds after the snap. If you watch most games, QB's who throw a deep ball give the player time to get down the field. You can see if he has a jump, how the coverage is, where to place it.

In 1.5 - 2 seconds, Tanny is basically just tossing it up. Watch the deep ball he threw in the Balt. game when he had time. It was perfect. Also, if you can't run, you don't have play action. Teams are exclusively playing the pass on us.

The amount of 3 n outs & short drives puts the D on the field & exposes them to getting tired & wearing out later in games. This is he Sporano era all over again.

Fix the OL & I think the team an be salvaged without a major overhaul. Not to excuse the D. I just think they are not using the right scheme. Too many stunts on the DL is causing them to get gashed. It was even mentioned on in the Atlanta game. When they stunt, they take themselves out of the rush lanes creating major cut back lanes.

The OL & the coaching are the issues.

Nice post Mando! You hit the nail on the head. Please Ross go after guys that are proven in the league especially at head coach!

Armando this is some of your greatest work ever. I agree wholeheartedly 100%

Are you reading this Mr. Ross? ALL Dolphans certainly hope so.

FYI, i agree the team is chain of interlocking units and when you have one that is as putrid as our o line, it impacts many other things... but I look at the Jets, worse offense than ours and winning. But they do have a run game I guess...anyway, I did expect more from this defense. They shouldn't be run down because theya re extremely deep up front.

Love what the Dolphins were, and what they could be again. That's why I hope they lose a lot of games from here out. Maybe that's the only thing that will change Ross's mind. They are going nowhere anyway.

Everyone on this blog wanted Wallace to stretch the field. don't start say BS now.

FYI, look at the deep ball to Wallace vs. NO. When he had time, perfect throw. DROP.

What's also killing this O is the lack of ANY + yards on first down.

It's always 2nd & 12 or 2 & 10. Play action on 1st down and get 5 yard. Makes it easier to get 1st downs!

Damn Mando, I use to think you were the WORST, but you getting better!!! Over the last month, I haven't always agreed with you but you're getting better and not always talking bout YOU!!! Bravo baby!!! You're getting better. Oh btw, I do agree with this one.

Another GreatReading Today:

"How The Dolphins Fell Apart"

Every dolphin needs to read this. Here's a small sniplet:

In April, in the fifth round of the NFL draft, the Miami Dolphins selected Caleb Sturgis, a kicker from Florida. He signed with the team for an annual salary of $406,000.

To the larger world, this was a routine and uneventful transaction. But in interviews with current and former NFL players, player agents and team executives familiar with the inner workings of the Dolphins, the news hit team members like a bomb.

The Dolphins already had a kicker, a five-year starter named Dan Carpenter who was well-liked by everyone and good at his job. To NFL insiders, the subtext was clear: Carpenter's $2.7 million salary was getting expensive for a kicker, and NFL teams don't take kickers in the draft unless they plan to use them.

The writing was on the wall. Carpenter was on his way out.

To Miami's team leaders, who'd grown weary of management's tendency to cast off popular veterans, the decision was a gut punch. They didn't plan to accept the move without making their displeasure known.

Seven months later, the Dolphins are a shambles. After spending a staggering $146 million on free agents in the off-season—at least $10 million more than any other NFL team—they have lost starting guard Richie Incognito, who was suspended by the team for disciplinary reasons, and starting tackle Jonathan Martin, who left the team over what he has described as a culture of harassment and bullying.

After being a trendy preseason pick to win the AFC East, the Dolphins are 4-5 and a long shot to make the playoffs. The team is the subject of an NFL investigation, and its locker-room environment is being held up as an example of the dysfunctional culture of the NFL.

Whatever the investigation reveals, people familiar with the Dolphins said these problems reflect a broader mistake of management: a temptation to undersell the importance of leadership.

"When you look at the Miami Dolphins and you look at how they jettisoned their veterans, it was all a recipe for disaster and it's no surprise they are embroiled in this controversy with Richie at the center," said Louis Riddick, the former personnel director for the Philadelphia Eagles. "You think veterans are replaceable but then players emerge as leaders that shouldn't because they say 'I might as well do it' and it's not the kind of people you want young players turning to."

Riddick put the blame squarely on Jeff Ireland, the Dolphins' general manager. "Mistakes of character are on the personnel staff exclusively," he said.

Dolphans, please go here for more:


If this team could get better on both sides of the ball by one field goal a game....

Mark, sorry to say it but, the Jets O is much better than ours. They can run & they throw out tons of formations. Impossible for the opposing D to know what's coming because Morningwigh uses so much variation in what they do.

Defenses cannot key in on what they're doing.

sorry Franchise but they will be the Chargers sunday...and remain in the playoff hunt.


In the peculiar economy of the NFL, the amount of money a team can spend on salaries is fixed by a salary cap. This season the total is $123 million per team. As a result, the process of building a roster is essentially a zero-sum game. To bolster one part of a team you have to steal resources from another—and any decision about a player is subject to a brutal cost calculus.

The upside of this system is that with some smarts and a little luck, any team should be able to engineer its way to the playoffs. The downside is that if you replace the wrong players, or too many players, you risk destroying the great intangible asset of a football team: the chemistry and camaraderie inside the locker room.

Over the last 10 seasons, the Dolphins have been the NFL's most transient franchise. They have had five head coaches, two interim head coaches, four personnel decision makers and two owners. Since Ireland joined the team before the 2008 season, Miami has gone through 1,034 players—more than all but a handful of other teams.

Over the last 10 seasons, the Dolphins have been the NFL's most transient franchise. They have had five head coaches, two interim head coaches, four personnel decision makers and two owners. Since Ireland joined the team before the 2008 season, Miami has gone through 1,034 players—more than all but a handful of other teams.


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