« The reason the Dolphins did nothing on Monday | Main | The complex dynamic of Philbin firing assistants »

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.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

There is no way folks that Phibin lets Sherman go. Those guys are like family. Clean the whole house out!

Tannehill needs a strong running game to be successful , then comes the play action and bingo away we go
Posted by: Marc from nj | December 31, 2013 at 02:15 PM

TannePuke needs to be surrounded by an all pro team to look average. He stinks!!

Dolphins KO'd by the Jets and the Bills.

With the playoffs on the line, this team mustered only 7 points in 2 weeks, against the Jets and the Bills.

This is all anyone needs to know about the 2013 Dolphins.

Shula....you might be right, but we can talk all we want here about Ross, new ownership, etc--but why bother?--why spend almost any time talking about something we cant change? We can lobby/pressure for changes at GM/HC (still does little good, in my opinion) and MAYBE have an impact, as those types of changes happen all the time--but new ownership? Ross owns the team....who's firing him?--please no "boycott the team"...."stop buying season tix", etc--that has no staying power. So who is firing Ross?--and how much more time do you want to spend discussing something that aint happening?

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.


I'm not a male chauvinist pig, but, given the state of this franchise, now we're going to start "EXPERIMENTING" with female GM's?

How will she evaluate talent, by guys who look sexiest in their football pants?

Does anyone else - Mando(?) - see the irony that this team from South Florida, which had so many problems scoring, put up its highest point toal of the season in the SNOW?

Marc In NJ. Long time brother. I don't know if you noticed, but, RT's first pick came on a play action in which he had PLENTY of time, but, was locked onto Wallace the entire time. Millner read it, and jumped the route.



I think Ross needs to expand the list of candidates all of these people are known commodities,and instead of hiring a capologist lawyer without personnel experience to be GM,why not look for an original thinker for OC in the college ranks.That would open up a lot of possibilities.
The Dolphins need creative people not someone who does everything the way the rest of the league does.When your talking offensive play calling this is SO PREDICTABLE that it seems that the opposing defense knows the snap count.

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.


Eric Man-maniac. I wonder why none of the other 31 owners have not thought of this since his last "REAL" hire? Sounds like puk-atronics to me.

benz wants to tell us what we should or shouldnt discuss? lol

I'm about to puke. If it's a choice between incest and J-E-T-S castoffs, I guess I'd take our unlawful carnal knowledge "Deliverance" fest. What a choice, huh?

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


Best Part of the entire Blog tropic. Fully explains why we're beginning to play like those loser Jets.

A name that I have not heard mentioned is Rich McKay. He built the Bucs Superbowl team and drafted players such as Sapp, Brooks, Alstott, Lynch and Barber. He went to ATL and built them up quite well also. He is now in ATL's FO (but not GM), and rumor has it the Bucs are thinking of going after him again. I think he would be great as the GM or czar of the Fins.

2 watt....when comments are ridiculous?....yes....LOL as much as you want


None of these guys will be GM, are you having one last laugh before 2013 is thankfully over.

Jerry Reese makes more sense or even Nat Moore. HC candidtaes will be everywhere after the move, which will be interesting to see if Philbin is kept on as Oc... oh wait McCarthy called the plays.

If i was Detroit, I'd be taking Shanahan to dinner.

I'd also be looking into Frazier as a DC (know's that division well).

2 watt....ie. "bring something to the table"

Anyone, anyone but Ireland

Armando, please be wrong about everything...Mangini is the only name that didn't make me want to puke! If Jeff Ireland sucks, why would you hire someone that he has groomed : / The front office needs to go! Period!

Forget Gang Green. The Dolphins will be "Bang Green."

2 watt....anything?--or are you still LOL-ing?

If we keep hiring ex AFC East coach's and GM's then we're just going to keep going backwards. Look at how Parcells set this team back. They're all still loyal to their original teams. Screwing the Phins over is just icing on the cake for them.

we call alot of wr screens but never have anyone out there blocking. very strange. we also never run any pick plays(ala peyton) to get a receiver open. we need a full house cleaning!

Shanahan. 3 SB's. 2 as HC, one as the OC of the 49ers, who also scored more points than any other team. Since surpassed by the 2007 Pats and this years Broncos.

170 wins/137 losses

Marc In NJ. Long time brother. I don't know if you noticed, but, RT's first pick came on a play action in which he had PLENTY of time, but, was locked onto Wallace the entire time. Millner read it, and jumped the route.

Posted by: Marc | December 31, 2013 at 02:21 PM


So not true. Sounds like the tale of cheap beer. Wallace SLIPPED while breaking the route. The ball was exactly where it was supposed to be had Wallace not slipped. Milliner was beaten, but got to the football because WALLACE SLIPPED down to the ground.

Maybe you should consider upgrading your brand of beer. I did, and now I can see clearly now that the cheap beer is gone.

I actually like the idea of Shananhan....or Lovie Smith....I'd like to see someone with HC experience, that is a proven winner--but still gotta start with the GM in my opinion

benz, if you want to try and tell everyone what you want them to talk about maybe you should get your own blog, yes?

What about Bill Poilian for GM? Proven and much better than the others above

Wallace might have slipped, but, the rest of that story was correct. He had time, and locked onto Wallace. Never looked anywhere else

I would love to see Dungy or Cowher running the show. I typically don't think retreads are very successful. But, this team needs a proven leader who can find players that can take over a game when they need to. That being said, there is a better chance Mike Sherman runs a QB sneak than there is of that happening. I'd settle for a new OC and a new GM. Philben at least impressed me how he kept the team together during the Incognito / Martin mess. But Sherman and Ireland have to go. Imagine an Offensive Coordinator of the Gus Malzhan type who knows how to be creative. Heck, I'd be happy with one who knows the best way to get short yardage is to spread the defense with 5-wide and run some type of run-option.

IF...we were in the market for a new head coach, I'd be very comfortable with the idea of Shanahan.

I don't believe any coach can be successful in DC.

Shanahan, Shanahan! Bill Walsh tree also, knows how to run a REAL WCO

move on 2 watt, with the thin skin, ok?--we're here throwing out ideas, and I just didnt think much of shula's, and told him so, thats all--we've all made dumb comments/points here at times, and are usually called out for for them, and can agree or disagree....but thats how it goes, we move on, not a big deal--its not personal, so relax....bring something to the table/discussion.

I actually like the idea of Shananhan....

Posted by: benz | December 31, 2013 at 02:34 PM


My opinion on Shanahan is Denver let him go and Elway has never even entertained the idea of bringing him back.

Wow Ross wanted to hire Mangini in 2011. Imagine that; Ireland and Sparano talking the owner Stephen Ross out of the hire....THE BLIND LEADING THE BLIND

Shanahan would be a big upgrade to Philbin...

The entire article makes me sick. You either replace GM and Coach or retain GM and coach. Either way Sherman and the offensive coaches need to go. Their play calling and philosophy of we don't need a fullback destroyed us this year. Idk what this team is going to do anymore but every decision seems to lead to mediocrity.

Denver has Manning and don't need an OC or coach that runs the WCO. They are running the Manning offense. We'll see how sucessfull they are when Manning retires


In a post above you mention screen pass plays not being successful and I agree that a large percent (99%) were unsuccessful. There was 1 in the 2nd game of the season that Wallace took for about 20 yards and a score. There was just 1 that worked like it should.

As far as offense for the season it didn't seem to me that we played to any strength we may have. I never saw us do a pitch out to Miller. I thought Miller's strength was getting outside and using his speed. I really didn't see much misdirection either. What about a naked boot leg. We won 1 game off that with a pass to Sims. It was the only time in the season I saw that being run. I also never seem to see a great game plan. I could go on and on but the offensive coordinator genius. NO CREATIVITY whatsoever!

Coach Shula use to be known for how well he adapted his team to the talent that was on it. He used the strengths of his players. This is a quality I have not seen in a long time in Miami.

Oh well here we are again looking to the draft. Yet this time I hope someone else is doing the picking.

Personally I like Philbin but I'm not a huge fan of Ireland or Sherman.

Wannstedt and Spielman. Yes? Just kidding.

We should have Cam Cameron'd Philbin last season and went with Andy Reid, but, now we can get Shanahan!

Chud is the only fired coach that I'd consider. Shanny was good once, but he's a shell of what he was.

Quinn.....agree--also wasnt initially thrilled with the idea of bringing in a familiar name (at midseason when it looked like the ship was sinking), but now that we're here, I'd be most comfortable bringing in guy who has been a HC and has won plenty of games....I just think we need that credibility at this point, if nothing else--but GM has to be step 1.....

One package to ponder over in these empty times.....

GM Nat Moore,
HC Rob Ryan,
OC Mike Shanahan
DC Ray Horton and Ass, HC.

Just a thought... sure it will be body slammed.

Posted by: Texas Dolfan | December 31, 2013 at 02:40 PM

Agree with that entire post.

also like Chud....for OC to replace Sherman

Posted by: Marc | December 31, 2013 at 02:36 PM

One Tannehill play I did question was on the Overthrown bomb to Wallace he had Lamar Miller wide open for an EASY 1ST DOWN had he checked the ball down.

After Tannehill missed Wallace deep, we fail to get a 1st down that 3 play series. We had a easy 1st down that 3 play series had Tannehill checked down to Miller instead of overthrowing to Wallace.

What do people think about bringing in a young coach say Mike Shula or Jay Gruden? I think it's interesting. Thoughts?

He misses wide open receivers every game...That's his stilo

Jesus! After reading this I now am convinced Ross is taking this Franchise towards Hugh Culverhouse (Bucs owner late 70's to early 90's) futility! Mangini or Aponte as G.M.?? Really!! Pioli (Parcells son-in-law) is the only name here that doesn't blow chunks but he handled Player Personnel in N.E. when tasked as the Chiefs G.M. he targeted Haley and Crennell as his H.C. hires while trading for Cassell at QB. I don't trust his old school old boy (like Papa-in-law) network if hired I believe we end up with Weis, Crennell or Mangini somehow on board and feel this a catastrophic disaster in the making!

In honesty while some on here might disagree I feel McDaniels got the gig in Denver to young and needed his baby nuts handed to him! In a 2nd go around will be much better and with the exception of the DC in N.E. he does call the plays and scheme the O with knife like precision! Another thing is when analyzing himseems to be of the bread that is hungry to win as the head man and since were discussing names like Tannebaum then why not Josh McDaniels to at least work the kinks in Ryan Tannehill? Cassell had a stud Yr. with him in N.E. in 08, he made a stats machine out of Orton in Denver for 1 Yr. and Brady's best statistical Yrs are with him at OC, so if were going bottom of the barrel then take the younger, hungrier guy with upside!, NO?

When you mean bonding with Philbin, do you mean Bangy Dangy?

Let's just make something happen f the good of the fans!!!!!! Firing Ireland is a no-brainer. Let the new GM make the decision on the HC.

Posted by: Marc | December 31, 2013 at 02:45 PM

#17 had so much time against the Jets, the running game was working well and he missed wide open targets.

What did you make of the slide ?

Rob Ryan now that's interesting with our luck he will have a heart attack in his first preseason game ,,,,,,,,,,,lay off the cheeseburgers rob ,be like your brother but I like it

I think the pressure got to the team ,they folded like a cheap suit

What do people think about bringing in a young coach say Mike Shula or Jay Gruden? I think it's interesting. Thoughts?

Posted by: phins4ever | December 31, 2013 at 02:44 PM

Why not Josh McDaniels or Chud and his fired staff in Cleveland? I think we have an old skokie from the stokie at H.C. I want another Sean Peyton in honesty and look at the younger guys while others are stuck on the soon geriatric Cowher, your candidates are also young refreshing names not the same ole!

I like Rob Ryan and getting to play his brother twice a year?! That would make for some interesting Jets games!

What do people think about bringing in a young coach say Mike Shula or Jay Gruden? I think it's interesting. Thoughts?

Posted by: phins4ever | December 31, 2013 at 02:44 PM


I'm about ready for Ross to move this team to LA, just leave the name. Then the NFL can re-award us a new franchise under new ownership.

The NFL would have to, "Miami Dolphins" are a brand that's the greatest part of NFL history. Move the team, leave the name Mr. Ross.

« 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ... 18 19 »

The comments to this entry are closed.