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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.