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Names, people to keep in mind in coming days

Most of what goes on around a football team happens behind the scenes. Practices are closed. The locker room is closed except for a few minutes a day. Meetings are private. The draft room is off limits. And, of course, the hiring, firing or retaining of coaches and personnel people is way, way out of bounds.

(Unless the owner has a helicopter and he lands candidates he's interviewing on the field of the team practice facility).

Anyway, all that stuff is behind the iron curtain. But the curtain sometimes has little peepholes and sometimes names get out. And sometimes we learn that what we see in public is only a small fraction of what happened and was considered behind the curtain.

So allow me to share with you names of people that have to be swirling in Stephen Ross's head now that he's going to "look at everything," as he said about evaluating the Dolphins future direction:

1. Eric Mangini: Ross wanted to hire Mangini prior to the 2011 season but changed course when Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano balked at the idea. Ross loves Mangini, currently a Senior Offensive Consultant for the San Francisco 49ers, for reasons I am not clear on. Mangini obviously has experience as a head coach as well as defensive coordinator but Ross would not limit the consideration of Mangini to a coaching job. Mangini wanted to drive his career toward the front office and so if Ross fires Jeff Ireland, this is a possible GM replacement. Indeed, even if Ross retains Ireland, Mangini might be brought in to oversee both the coach and general manager. Ireland is no longer in the position of strength he enjoyed in 2011 so he'd be unable to dissuade Ross this time.

2. Brian Gaine: He is currently the assistant GM and Ireland's right-hand man. He's an up-and-coming talent to the point he interviewed for the New York Jets GM position a year ago. If Ross decides he wants to or must fire Ireland, it is possible he'd promote Gaine to the job overseeing personnel. It's also possible Ross would give Gaine authority over personnel while still answering to someone such as Mangini or Dawn Aponte or Carl Peterson (more on those two in the coming paragraphs). This is an interesting dynamic because Gaine is a loyal and honorable guy. He might be uncomfortable taking Ireland's post after Ireland promoted him. He might not want to be a personnel man answering to people with limited personnel background. Or he might get the thumbs up from Ireland and be an easy fit.

3. Aponte: Do not underestimate her ability to work the system and climb the ladder. She came to the Dolphins as a cap specialist and has ascended to Executive VP of Football Administration. She also bonded with coach Joe Philbin and is one of if not his primary advisor. One of her known goals is to be an NFL general manager. If Ireland is dismissed, she will likely want the job. And although she has zero experience in personnel evaluation, she'll argue she can do the job with the assistance of a savvy talent evaluator at her side -- someone like Gaine. Aponte's name is also being floated around the league office for a possible position there. She worked at the league office for three years. Before that she worked for the Cleveland Browns for a year and the New York Jets for 15 years. She is close with, you guessed it, Mangini -- the former head coach in Cleveland and the Jets.

4. Scott Pioli: He helped build the New England dynasty of the early 2000s. He was the GM of a Kansas City franchise whose downfall was not talent but rather coaching and quarterback play. Pioli would be a strong GM candidate if Ross fires Ireland. Like so many of these other folks, Pioli has New York Jets history. It is where he and Bill Belichick linked up prior to their run in New England. It must be said, Pioli would typically not be a GM candidate unless he can bring his own head coach. That's how he did it in Kansas City. But as GM jobs are scarce now -- only one GM so far has been fired this offseason -- Pioli might be willing to accept working with Joe Philbin for a year before making a decision to retain or jettison him after 2014.

5. Peterson: He has been and remains a friend and advisor to Ross. If Ross decides he wants to go back to the football czar dynamic -- one in which a guy like Peterson oversees the daily workings of the head coach and GM and reports those directly to the owner -- then Peterson would be a candidate. As you know, Ross does not want to fire either Jeff Ireland or Joe Philbin. He didn't plan to fire either Ireland or Philbin as late as a week ago before the season-defining collapse. So maybe the owner's answer to all this is give both Ireland and Philbin a "Make the playoffs in 2014 or bust" ultimatum while King Carl oversees their every move.

6. Mike Tannenbaum: Another person with New York Jets connections. What do you expect from an owner that lives in New York and whose group of advisors include former Jets employees? If Ross doesn't want to promote Aponte to GM she might bolt to the league office if that opportunity pans out. Tannebaum, the former Jets GM, would be a capologist or football executive answer in Miami. This would particularly be the case if Ireland is fired and Mangini comes to town. Tannenbaum and Mangini were a team with the Jets from 2006-2008 until Tannenbaum whacked him after the 2008 season. (That's the NFL, folks).

If you'll notice there are a lot of New York Jets connections here. It probably makes Dolphins fans queasy because it's the Jets and, after all, their Super Bowl drought is longer than Miami's so what makes those folks so smart?

But here's the thing: Ross has multiple Jets people around him now.

L. Jay Cross is the President of Related Hudson Yards and is leading the Related Companies' project on the west side of New York City. Ross is founder and chairman of Related. Cross was president of the New York Jets from 2000-2008.

Matt Higgins was the New York Jets' executive vice president Business Operations from 2004 through early January 2012. He left the team to co-found RSE Ventures, a tech company charged with getting fans closer to sports and entertainment events. The co-founder and chairman of RSE? Stephen Ross.

Higgins was a valued advisor to Jets owner Woody Johnson during his time with the Jets. When Ross came out of the Dolphins locker room on Sunday he was accompanied by, you guessed it, Matt Higgins.


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Please be wrong

Funny how these people lose jobs somewhere because the can't/ don't produce...next thing you know, their on the Dolphins short list to take us to the promised land.

Yuk, yuk, yuk and YUCKKKK!!!

No wonder we're a rudderless team with no end in sight to our mediocrity. Mangini? Seriously? Maybe the worst coaching record in the history of coaching. Aponte? A capologist lawyer who thinks she can be GM (without any talent evaluation ability whatsoever). Gaine? You mean the right-hand man to the guy who brought us 1 winning season in 6 years?

Pioli is the only name out of all those that might NOT be a total disaster. Let's hope Ross doesn't follow his gut and make the worst of all possible moves.

The czar scenario failed with Parcells. Why repeat it?

Keeping the GM and finding a new coach failed. Why repeat that?

Keeping the coach and finding a new GM sounds like the same problem flipped around. Why do that?

Either clean house, or stick with what you got. I don't know which of those is the best idea, but they are the only two ideas I like.

Yeah I hate pretty much all of these. Pioli is the only decent one in my opinion but he has some warts. Matt Cassell and Todd Haley come to mind.



Yeah I echo the sentiments of firing everyone and cleaning house or giving them one year to make the playoffs or get fired. Doing it halfway again will not work.

I'm glad this is your speculation, and not based on fact.

Intelligent speculation. Dawn Aponte being the most intriguing since she has bonded with Coach Philbin. But why can't Sherman use a fullback or call a QB sneak for the half a dozen third or forth and less than a yard scenarios this year?

I would LOVE Mangini in this organization. I know everyone will disagree with me and that's ok.

The problem for Dolphins fans, Sammy, is that Mando's "speculation" is often 100 percent on target.

Before anyone brings it up, NO, I don't want Maurice Jones-Drew. We can find an adequate back in any round of the upcoming draft. No need to pay a 29 yr old at the end of his career. Pass!

Just curious, why would you want Mangini?

Hahaha DC. I agree

Fake GM, what about Mangini would you love? If he's really trying to get a FO job, then it would be as GM. We already have a GM with terrible people skills, and look how many people he's rubbed the wrong way (and the effect that had on the team). Mangini is known as a difficult person, not people-friendly. On top of that he has NO GM experience. We already have a bunch of newbies in key positions (HC, DC, QB) we need experience on the team somewhere. Maybe as a DC, but other than that, I don't think Mangini is a wise decision.

DC, I agree with you on that. In 2012 he got hurt and only played 6 games. This year he average 3.4 yards per carry. No thanks.

Regardless, like most fans, I just want to see aggressive defense and some innovative play calling on Offense!!

I say keep what you have in the front offices and make Philbin bring in a new OC. And O line coach that the new OC wants, someone that can run his Offensive scheme, on the O line. Other than that the only thing I think Ross should do is Make Ireland draft players that PHILBIN AND THE NEW OC WANTS FOR HIS OFFENSE ...

Told you guys for a while that unless you start fresh, you aren't getting the top names. You want to fire ireland but keep Philbin - you get Brian Gaine. At least it's not Tannenbaum.

Mandlebaum MANDLEBAUM!!

DC, that was the point that I was going to make. I was hoping Fake GM would have some positive points to share. Maybe just stirring the pot.

Get Pioli and hope he finds the right coach and qb, if Tannehill is not it. Chiefs have a bunch of probowlers which Pioli drafted. I rather roll the dice with him then wait another yr for loser Ireland to mess up again.

Bodine, i agree. i would just make slight philiophy changes to the co-ordinators. Find a d co-ordinator who is just simply more aggressive and add some beef to the offense personnel wise but find another one of the multitude of guys that spring off this WCO philosophy.

I'm cool with Mangini or Pioli. Mangini had a lot of talent on that Jets team.

Aponte as GM with ZERO personnel experience? Hmmm. Sounds just like hiring a 'passer quality control coach' to be head coach. What could possibly go wrong?

DC, NeMo, ben Tate for 2014 opening day starter at RB. With him running tough and being as dynamic as he is - then followed up by Lamar Miller's big play opportunities - that looks like a fine one two punch to me.

disgutsing Mando, how is the obvious choice of Polian not on the table. The guy built 6 Spuerbowl teams with 2 different organizations. Please get these guys to listen.

Mangini has a superior football mind. Crappy coach for sure, just not HC material. But he would be a good if not great front office guy.

All but Mangini most educated fans probably came up with already. Nothing new here. Pioli while he is a good talent evaluator sets a very uncomfortable environment in the workplace, remember the wire tapping and cameras he allegedly had in the Chiefs building and that was one of the major reason he got fired. I wouldn't want that culture in Miami.

Of all these names, Brian Gaine sounds the most interesting. Pioli had a rough go of it in KC in terms of hiring coaches and finding a QB. He was great in NE.

I wonder why no one has given Mike Zimmer a shot as HC.

His defenses consistently perform very well, year in, year out. The Bengals D really flies around and plays inspired ball, always, reminds me of the Seahawks D.

I'm not saying he should be Miami's next HC or that Philbin is the problem, etc...just curious why he's never been able to land the job.

He was a ball boy...just like Ireland

In my humble opinion,this is what I will like to see for the Dolphins road to success!! bring Nick Caserio from the New England Patriots at any cost as the new GM,he will probably hire Josh Mcdaniels as the new HC,and bring the New York Jet,defensive Coordinator under Rex Ryan to be our new DC,I love Rex Ryan defense and it's a proven fact that it works!!!,all of this having Nat Moore or Jackson Taylor as your Top men or Football Czar.
I'm very confident this formula will take us to the Super Bowl.

If there is a new GM and/or Head Coach, then addressing the offense needs to be the priority. Yes, the defense regressed mightily, but the offense is destroying the whole team.

Tannehill was ranked 24th in the league. Even worse, he was ranked 10th when compared to all 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year QBs. Even RGIII had a better QB rating than Tannehill. RGIII had a difficult season. Truth is, so did Tannehill. His deep pass incompetence is a serious liability at this point.

The offense needs multiple OL, a RB, a TE, and a WR. It also needs a rookie QB to compete with Tannehill.

On defense, the LB play MUST improve.

And, the Dolphins need to find out if the entire 2013 draft class is more than merely bench warmers because that is all they were this past failure of a season.

I really wish Tony Dungy's name would be on top of that list. Aint gonna happen.

Please give Tony Dungy a call. He fixed the Bucs and the Colts; he can fix the Dolphins too!!!

No wonder we suck! We are following on the Jets footsteps. If this happens I'll never buy another ticket to watch the Dolphins.
Why can they be smart and stop hiring retreads?
Dumb and Dumber. Even the 3 stooges were smarter than that.

Sometimes hiring good football people is easier than Mr. Ross is making this.
Hire a GM with a history of good assessment and decision making skills THEN...
Hire a coach who has the history of the same thing...

Mr. Ross tried to do this with Jim Harbaugh but fell short. He also tried with Manning, that fell short.

It sounds like he's surrounded himself with mediocre wisdom except with his connection to Pioli.

At least fire anyone that has anything to do with that moronic go-go go cadence, telling the defense what type of play is coming and giving them that extra little step towards run or pass is totally ridiculous, a bunch of drunks in a bar can pick up on it but these buffoons think other teams don't.. its embarrassing, its almost like shaving points for god sakes

The three stooges would be an improvement for the Dolphins.

God help us if Aponte becomes the GM!! Jeez

Wow I really hope this name dropping is BS. I'm not excited about any of these has beens. Pioli, Mangini, Tannenbaum. You have got to be kidding me. We may as well just keep Ireland and Philbin. I think I'd rather see the chick run the team than any of these Jets losers. Pioli was a complete disaster in KC. It wasn't just coaching and QB play Mando.

armando is just joining the rest of us yahoo's in speculaton.

dawn aponte as player evaluator? seriously? she is an accountant. leave her to accounting.

Brian Gaine makes only sense and the only point you are probly spot on is he would rather just work with Ireland since he was promoted by him.

This teams problem is OL and a serious red zone threat with large catch radius and a bigger RB.

Legarrete Blount please!

oh and new OC. Sherman isnt getting it. roll that sucker out!

I agree with the Tony Dungy call out. We have talent on this team. What we need is to play inspired football. There is a serious lack of consistent energy on the field and no creativity in the play calling. This is more a couching problem then a player problem.

I have to say that Ireland would be better than Aponte or a few of the other names mentioned.

My personal opinion below:
Nat Moore or jason Taylor -Head of Football Operation.
Nick Caserio (from New England) General Manager.
Josh McDaniels (from New England) Head Coach.
Mike Pettine (from the New York Jet) Defensive Coordinator.
In my opinion this group will bring respect to this organization,and will have the Dolphins in the Super Bowl in the near future.

I've been saying Gaine all along, along with also promoting Nat Moore. Of course my only experience is being a fan for 40 years. I'm not sure if I would even trust my judgement lol.

Coyle really concerns me as well. He had some pretty decent personnel to work with and they have regressed.

Sherman leaves a lot to desired but there is reason to believe he'll open the offense up if we ever get the right personnel in place.

Philbin who knows. I think maybe the years of success in Green Bay have left him without a sense of urgency. He needs to understand that fans here are starved for some decent football.

Mando really has a way of depressing everyone for their new year outlook doesn't he? Anyone else starting to regret ever becoming a Dolphins fan?

If Ross gives Ireland the keys to another draft and FA period...what the heck, I think I'll just give my ex-wife a call and see if I can make that work too.

They make a woman GM and I've watched my last snap.

Mando really has a way of depressing everyone for their new year outlook doesn't he? Anyone else starting to regret ever becoming a Dolphins fan?

Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/dolphins_in_depth/2013/12/most-of-what-goes-on-around-a-football-team-happens-behind-the-scenes-practices-are-closed-the-locker-room-is-closed-except.html#storylink=cpy

Yes Mando knows how to twist the knife, and yes once Sherman blew another very important 4th and inches call I was beginning to seriously doubt why I even bother to watch and root for a bunch of inept millionaires who disappoint me every year. The Phins are becoming like death and taxes for me.

No wonder we suck! We are following on the Jets footsteps. If this happens I'll never buy another ticket to watch the Dolphins.
Why can they be smart and stop hiring retreads?
Dumb and Dumber. Even the 3 stooges were smarter than that.

Posted by: Robert | December 31, 2013 at 01:13 PM

I could not say it better so I will just repost this. The Jets of all teams to copy??? Ross is a NYer....we really need him to sell this team back to a REAL Dolphin fan. Say what you will about Huzienga at least he bled aqua and orange. This damn owner bleeds green!! arrggggggggghhhhhhh

Too bad Ross's NY connection can't be with the Giants instead of their inbred cousin the Jets.

What about Bill O'Brien as Head Coach?

Long time no see fellas,

Unfortunately I think you will see a change in staff maybe even Sherman and to save face maybe LBs because Ellerbe is a P$$Y and Wheeler stinks but in the end we will go into 2014 with Philbin as a lame duck coach as playoffs or bust and that's the wrong approach for everyone.

Not to mention we will either keep Ireland or have Gaines his right hand be the next in line be the this great successor (sarcasm) to Ireland because of familiarity.

Miami still stinks. Bad Oline, bad RBs, good but not great WRs and good H-Back type but TERRIBLE TE in Clay cause he is so 1 dimensional.

Enuf with the overseeing & czars & one-year stopgaps with ultimatums.

FIRELAND & hire any of the mentioned, I Prefer. Pioli but a fresh start with any of them is fine.
Let GM determine fire or retain Failbin.

But pull the g-d trigger NOW & right this sinking ship!

Anyone who wants to go through another FA or draft with Ireland needs mental health care.

Yeah, have to agree. Aponte maybe capologist assit. whatever now? but GM? Been a fan since '69 but it'd be over for me.

What about BILL POLIAN!!!!!!!!!
Oh wait a minute he is a winner unlike those other losers you just wrote about. So we go from Cowboy cast offs to ex Jets????? Please tell me again what Mangini has done? Any playoffs? Any playoff wins? NO.
The only way to get the stink of a dead team is to get rid of everyone.

Posted by: Jebediah | December 31, 2013 at 01:25 PM

Therein lies the crux of the problem. Miami hasn't been able to pick-up a short distance first down ALL YEAR pretty much (at least using a run play). Jets are playing up on the line. EVERYONE thinks it's going to be a run up the middle. So what does Sherman do, at the 50 yard line, on a play we HAD TO HAVE, he runs up the middle, the exact play that hasn't worked all year (and by gollie it fails again).


As a counter example, Bengals were near the goal line. They showed a similar formation. Ravens defense had a similar look (to the Jets). However, Jay Gruden called a fake handoff and a QB rollout and run (for a TD, QB goes in untouched).

See what misdirection and creative play calling does? And the thing is, Sherman DOES get creative in the red zone. Some of our best, most creative plays are red zone plays. But between the 20's, he becomes like robotic and completely devoid of any creativity. It makes me FURIOUS!

Anyway, that's why we're looking up dates for the Combine and the Draft and the Bengals are getting ready to play this week.

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