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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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Benz... Agreed that GM is first priority. And if Philben has to be a casualty of that then so be it. I think the biggest problem with Ireland is that he has no instinct. You can look at all the metrics involved in finding talent, but if you aren't instinctive and can't find players that have the intangibles that make good players great all you will ever have are good players. A team full of good players won't win championships. Championship teams are built in the 2nd - 4th rounds in my opinion. And unless your GM can find guys that WIN in those rounds, your GM will never build a great team.

Just draft linemen that's all I can say

Having women in the FO, would still give us more balls than Ireland, Philbin and Tannehill combined.

Honestly though the thought of women leading a team of men is really the last straw. Maggie Thatcher is dead and Joan De Arc is no longer here either, but Apone as GM would keep Philbin happy. Joe would struggle to write his own script to the team, I mean doesn't that get you that a woman has to tell the coach what to say after a win against a group of men.

I read a rumour that once he read out...

"2 Bags of Chips
4 Cans of prunes
2 packets of Condoms..... Oh sorry guys wrong list",

it may just be a rumour but looks like Dawn gave Philbone the wrong list that week.

The NFL should force that SOB Ross to sell the team if he cheaps out again on salaries. 30 mill UNDER the cap shows you arent trying to win. I wont give that clueless cheapskate another dime of my money.

The LA STARS formally the dolphins


This season was so typical

Remember 3 years ago when everyone was begging and pleading for Wayne Huzienga to sell the Dolphins. Well how do you like it now? Ross has no intentions of selling the team, He's a billionaire and this is just a toy for him. He is one of thirty two men who own an NFL franchise, and he is making a fortune off of it.

Posted by: wallyfin | December 31, 2013 at 02:58 PM

The new GM will get to hire whoever he/she wants too.

I like Philbin for his coaching fundmentals aspects and sticking to his guns that people that produce in games and in practice get to play. Takes away the country club attitude that was in the lockeroom in the past.

We still have no depth really and we were lucky to be in playoff consideration right up until the last game. My 10-6 prediction was off but my prediction we'd be in the wildcard equation was on the mark.

I'm OK with Philbin staying but if we fire Ireland, Philbin should go too. Coyle and Sherm can both be shown the door and I would be happy.

What happend to Charles clay the last two games of the year how did they shut him down I believe that had a lot to do with us being so dominated

If Ross is making so much money than why is he so F'N cheap?

We need more time to truly dissect what went wrong other than no run game no defense a quarter back that misses wide open receivers and receivers dropping balls yup we need more time

Paul Dee was smart bailing on this sinkin ship.

Once Hartline went down, Tannehill was stuck with 5th string receivers and dainty running backs. How many times did we jettison Moore and there he was in the lineup Sunday. Nobody ever picks him up no matter how many times we cut him!

A bet we stay status quo Ross will make no changes

Have faith in Steve garfuncle our CEO

Yeah, Ross needs more time. The teams only stunk for 5 years straight.

Wallace isn't a 5th stringer, neither is Clay or Matthews.

We are an 8-8 football team how does it feel

The previous blog topic was the most pertinent. These other teams that made the Black Monday headlines knew of their plans weeks if not months ago.

Ross could not have seen this meltdown coming and up until Sunday was expecting a playoff berth. Change was not even on his mind.

I'm ok with him doing his due diligence instead of firing away with no firm plan.

As far as the names Armando is tossing out...I wouldn't read too much into it. Ross is old enough to see through everyone's charade.

We did improve by a game but we should have won 3 of those games and after it all we get pounded by the bills and the jets simply unbelievable what an empty year!!!!!!!!!

Yeah, Ross needs more time. The teams only stunk for 5 years straight.
Posted by: Cellar Fins | December 31, 2013 at 03:20 PM


14 years without a playoff win

Losing the last two games the way we lost them with the playoffs on the line is inexcusable. If there is a house cleaning I wouldn't object.

This blog just validated my decision to ditch the Dolphins after 40 years. Previously failed Jets people? That's their answer? I'm laughing my ass off here.

This team is utterly clueless. 2014 prediction: 6-10. They'll get 2 wins against division opponents, and they'll beat the Vikings, Jaguars and Lions. They'll shock one of the other teams, which will be yet another teaser for you fans, enough for you to fist pump and go "now why can't they play like that ALL the time?" Then they'll have mattresses on their backs for the rest.

You guys might as well give up like I did. Do you really wanna torture yourselves any longer? Because that's all this team is good for.

I hate myself, I should be fired

but it's not my fault, I'm a winner

you obviously do care or you wouldn't of clicked on a dolphins thread. It's ok to admit it, that's the first step in healing.

If Ireland had a conscience he'd admit he sucks and resign.

Mr Sherman, if it were up to me after a performance like that I'd cut you on the spot!

Posted by: Darkoak | December 31, 2013 at 03:29 PM

That's where I'm at. There's no way a winning organization would perform the way the Dolphins did in those last 2 games.

And on that note...I'd like to commend Mike McCoy and the San Diego Chargers for FINISHING their regular season with 4 wins.

has Bill Pollian lost his edge after building the 4 time super bowl runner up Bills and what he did in Indy?? I heard he got fired at Indy because he was acting like Hitler

No, we would prefer that the League appoints the Overseer(s) to Ross.

Posted by: Egnew | December 31, 2013 at 03:39 PM


thank you for treating me with respect, I've earned it

Oh lord....Lord Ross has surrounded himself with retreads and is living in a bubble.

Strap on laddies it's going to start getting interesting around here.

Gotta think positive people. Maybe we'll have a lockout next year!

DC Dolfan-
one thing I will never question is Tannehills toughness. this guy has taken a beating all season and has not shown one ounce of happy feet in the pocket. to a fault sometimes he stands in there too long. I have also seen him chase down defenders after INT'S, and stick his nose right in there and make a better tackle then his defensive teammates can make(no joke).... on that play he finally ran out of the pocket(which he shud do more of)and headed upfield for a 1st down. I wud bet anything that he felt he had the 1st down with the slide. picking up the yard marker is not the easiest thing to do when your starting 20 yards away. Remember,the game is 10x faster when your playing than it looks like on TV.

Well this explains it all now.

NHFINSFAN...how interesting will it be if the decision by Ross is to only throw an asst. coach under the bus and that's it.

What are you waiting for mr. Ross, it's almost 2014 and you haven't fired Ireland! You've owned the team now for 5 years and have been in charge of team that has had the worst 5 years in team history!! Make it a happy new year for Dolphins fans !!!

DC Dolfan- I agree with you 1ooo% on the short yardage plays. only Sherman isn't the only one who does this. most of the league does it too. we stopped the Jets on the same play earlier in the game. my opinion is that if your gonna stuff it up the middle it needs to be a QB sneek. Brady does this all the time and gets 2 yards most times..... but I believe the problem with bunching all these guys on the line just creates a wall of humanity that is very hard to run through. these guys are too big, it doesn't work. every time I see a team spread the formation out, and clear out some of that beef in the middle, it creates space to run in. plus a fake handoff bootleg works like every time. these guys all overpersue.

chris, I agree, his toughness is unquestionable. And I also agree he probably THOUGHT he had the 1st. But like you said, it's hard to know for sure, so why not dive right in to get a few more yards? Why not take a deflected hit or something? My point is, I don't think ANYONE on the team showed a sense of urgency you would think would come from players who needed a win to get into the Playoffs. Actually, after the game, it was refreshing to hear Tannehill say this loss will stick with him and hurt for a while. Thank God, he DOES care! I just wish he'd show some of that emotion on the field. I could tell Geno Smith cared. Dee Milliner cared. Rex Ryan cared.

But the stoic Dolphins showed nothing. And guess what, they got nothing in return. Maybe there's an connection between expressing passion and getting the desired results. Didn't hurt for Ray Lewis.

Ross won't make any changes. check out message board over at www.DolphinsTruth.com

DC Dolphan...you are right about that Tannehill rush when he slid at the end. However, I feel that is the Coach's fault somewhat. Seriously, a coach has to be in Tanny's headset reminding him of the situation. "You cannot slide. Remember to dive at the end if it's close." etc etc. I don't think he lacked toughness. I think lacked knowledge of where he was and what he needed. That's a little bit his fault and a little bit coaching.

DC DOLFAN....If it's real then OK. If it's a false bravado then it means nothing. Watching Ryan on the sideline with all that laughing was certainly irritating to a Phin fan but he was just told before the game that he had another year. Add a win to the news just received and I'd laugh too.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that if Philbin and Tannehill are more like Landry and Stalback then OK. Hard to be what your not. Hard to fake it.

Also on those short yardage plays...Joe Philbin was the one who decided we didn't need a fullback this year. Then we signed one, won a game, then Philbin cut him. We stunk on short yardage all year long because Joe Philbin decided that Michael Egnew was a power blocker. THAT type of Philbin decision deserves to get him fired. He was dead wrong, and us fans suffer for it.

To Us, Ray Lewis is a hoodlum. We don't want that kind of element around here.

It's true the locker room should be on fire about the loss and missing the playoffs.

A "right hand man" that makes sense, is one that's been contributing to a winning organization for years.

How about Ozzie Newsome's right hand man, Eric Decosta?

I know he's heir to the throne there in Baltimore and well compensated, but...why not?

Anyway, in a few days, it'll be reported that Ireland will be with the team for another year, and then my opportunity to hope will have passed.

DC Dolfan-
I get your point, I know there coaching him to run out of the pocket more and more, and what they are also teaching him to do is protect himself when he does. I was watching the first half of the game again last night (DVR'd it, glutten for punishment)and if he'd kept his feet, he was gonna get creamed, 3 guys converging on him. I wonder if he even knew the rule that as soon as he gives himself up its where his knee is, not where they touch him?? anyway, the lack of emotion on the team is noticeable, and its one thing the team can be taking from its HC, which is not good.

Yep! Fodder...I feel the same.

Low-class Cubans tend to identify with low-class Negroes even if sub-consciously. We don't.

Let's lock up Jones-Drew while we can! One less thing to pick up on the draft!

and I'm sorry!! but theres absolutely NO room for a woman in the front office. GIVE ME A BREAK!!

We could have had Boldin, nobody wanted him. Well the Ravens and 49'rs are glad they took him. Let's snag up Jones Drew. WE HAVE NO RB'S!

Heard Scott Pioli on NFL radio .... He likes Philbin A LOT! Thinks Phins are headed in right direction and should retain him.

Sounds like a partnership to me.... Just sayin

UN Real Mr.Ross....Really Ex Jets People????
OH MY GOD,,,,,:(

Ex Packer people didn't work out either. So what's your point?

Ross is clueless. Whatever decision he takes will be wrong for sure. The Dolphins are hopeless with this owner, hopeless. He has proven his incompetence since the first day he bought the team, a doom's day for this used-to-be magnificent organization.

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