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Dolphins state over the weekend: Limbo


That's where club owner Stephen Ross left the Dolphins when he boarded his helicopter (feel free to give it a name in the comments section) last Thursday evening. That's where the Dolphins were late Sunday night.

No one knows 100 percent what will happen next.

No one believes they are 100 percent certain of coming back for 2014. No one believes they are 100 percent certain of being dismissed by Ross. Everyone is walking on egg shells and worried about their status.

This will be an interesting week as it will likely bring answers.

Below I list for you the primary players in this evolving soap opera and give you their current situation best as sources are handicapping:

Coach Joe Philbin: He is likely safe. Ross likes his head coach and, moreover, must understand that having hired him only two years ago (over San Diego coach Mike McCoy, by the way) his own personal reputation for hiring and firing is riding on this one. As Ross's reputation isn't at an all-time high right now, it could be the owner doesn't want to hurt that further by admitting he made a mistake on Philbin. But one reason Philbin cannot be considered 100 percent safe is because it is believed Ross wants changes on the coaching staff and Philbin does not. So does the owner blink and let the coach have his way? Or does the coach blink? Or do neither blink, in which case Philbin is gone.

General Manager Jeff Ireland: I reported Dec. 9 that Ross had told Ireland he was safe. But then the collapse of 2013 happened. And while that collapse probably is Philbin's responsibility, it is possible the owner could sacrifice Ireland as a scapegoat. Fans want this. But fans don't get a vote. The fact is Ireland put more talent on the Dolphins 2013 roster than he had in his previous seasons as general manager. 

(There is an interesting dynamic at work here between Philbin and Ireland. I told you last week that in evaluating the personnel department and coaching staff, Ross may have inadvertently been forcing his football operation to face off against itself. Well, ESPN reported Sunday there is "tension" between Philbin and Ireland. I checked around on Sunday. No one denied the report. So how do these two men overcome their "tension" if they're to stay together?)

Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman: As of Sunday afternoon, he had not been told anything -- not whether he is safe or out -- by Philbin or anyone else. It is quite possible Philbin, told to fire Sherman, would keep this from his OC knowing that if he tells him, Sherman might resign to make sure his friend doesn't go the way of former Tennessee coach Mike Munchak.

Executive Vice President of Football Administration Dawn Aponte: She seems safe but, interestingly, she wants badly to get out. Aponte is a candidate for vice president of football operations at the NFL office in New York. She wants the job badly. Having served 15 years at the NFL office, having club experience and, yes, being a woman, she is a capable diversity candidate. But the field of candidates is considered strong and also includes former Chiefs GM and Patriots personnel man Scott Pioli. NFL Executive Vice President and General Counsel Jeff Pash adores Aponte.

Bottom line? Ross typically resists change. He doesn't want to fire anyone. (Remember, Philbin is the person I reported has authority to hire and fire assistants). And as you read above, Ross told people at different points last season they're safe, and he probably doesn't want to go back on that word.

What does that mean to you and me?

We should find out this week.


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I understand your take Frank from PA. A lot of the guys let go in FA did not pan out too well for their new team. I was very happy letting Long go - his injury history repeated itself and when he was healthy, he was getting smoked by speed DEs. Reggie had a fairly successful year. Stafford blew the season for the Lions. I would have liked to see Reggie back, especially after what we saw with our running game. Dansby had an excellent season for Arizona. I am not a huge fan of his, due to his inability to cover TEs. But you cant deny the fact that he played much much better for the Cards than he ever did for the Fins. Coaching here sucks.

Ireland needs to be blamed, not for letting those guys go, but for who replaced them. Coaches need to be blamed for never coaching guys up.

Something is fundamentally wrong with this organization. Ross is only the problem if he is unwilling to correct mistakes. His current mistakes are Ireland all that trickles down from there. HC, OC, DC, position coaches, etc.

we beat 3 of the four teams left in the playoffs

Nolan Carroll must go.

Thank you Harleyray! I like debating. Love it actually. But I like to debate based on the facts before us. I sympathize with Stephen Ross right now. Who is to blame for the meltdown? When you deal with the facts you can make arguments for the coaches and for the GM. To be honest, I side with Ireland more than the coaches. He drafts the best DE, trades up as a matter of fact to get him, then our DC states publicly that they are only going to play him on passing downs! Really? If I was Ireland, I would be in Ross' ear saying "he's the number 3 pick in the draft and our coaches aren't playing him!" He replaced dansby, who was an overpaid non impactful player, and replaces him with The LB from the Super Bowl champions who actually outplayed HOF ray Lewis by a landslide! Check the highlights from the Super Bowl and playoffs last year! Ellerbe was a beast! How is it Ireland's fault when we had older LB who were getting torched by TE and he replaced them with two younger LB who should have been an upgrade?! Coaching again in my opinion. Everyone on these blogs rightfully wants to change the offense with new coaches- I agree. But I am NOT a Kevin Coyle fan at all either....

Philbin is responsible for the collapse,Mike Sherman and Kevin Coyle. These 3 plus Ireland is not a formula for a winning franchise plus add Ross to the mix and we have total destruction over a once great franchise. Ross must have his head stuck in the sand to not understand that Ireland is a big problem. He doesn't get along with coaches and drafts players that have little or no effect. He let Bush walk, brought in 2 linebackers that were not very good( Wheeler needs to be cut), and didn't address the O-line. One draft pick on a lineman and I don't recall him ever being on the field but Brenner wasn't awful but he was on the Practice squad. The List of disappointments goes on and on and on.

Frank I agree on Kevin Coyle but look at the whole draft.

Not one pick other than Jordan made much of a contribution.

Not to mention he used a 1st and 2nd rd pick to fill the same DE position he has already used 1st and 4th rd picks on in Odrick and Vernon.


Thanks for responding to my post with sound reasoning. I slightly disagree on the affect Reggie bush had in det. Joique bell was getting more and more touches by seasons end bc Reggie bush was dropping passes and fumbling way too much. Reggie bush would have had similar numbers to Lamar miller behind our OL this year. Personally I think mike Sherman called awful awful plays. Lets say Reggie was here- he wouldn't have done much better- maybe caught a few more passes (than he drops anyway). Miller should have caught "more" passes if they threw to him more. That's Sherman's fault.

I agree with some posters here when the facts are presented. We are 8-6 and in the drivers seat for a playoff spot. That's on the coaches for not getting at least one win in the last 2- not Jeff Ireland. The funny thing is, I'm not saying keep Ireland with my arguments either. But what I am saying is give Ireland some credit for improving the team with who he signed/drafted this year.

And this post just reassures my initial thought. The problem with the Dolphins is ROSS not Ireland or Philben or Sherman. Plan and simple to me.

Very strange goings on here. We draft a G who we try to make into a T and fails miserably there, then, when we need a G, we play an UDFA who got killed when facing good opposition; and all the time we had experienced Gs like Nate Gardner and Watkins riding the bench. What gives? Certainly looks like a deliberate attempt by Philbin to make Ireland look bad for whatever conflict they have between them. We won't have those power games here anymore even if we have to fire the both of you. You Hear!

Ross must sell the team to a football minded person if the Dolphins are ever to rise to greatness again. Rush Limbaugh comes to mind and I think he would be an awsome owner.

Air Force Dumb

Ross still cant make a decision?? LMAO!!

still need a qb
watch how Sherman becomes a genius over nite as soon as the phinz get a qb worth a chat
the only 1 on the roster that can/will push tputz is devlin at the moment use the old worn down wake in a trade and move ^ and get the ucf qb
instant playoffs and the tpuke homers hang themselves as they did with henne and beck

Dolphin Rick,

I agree. I just made a post saying I'm not necessarily in favor of keeping Ireland either. What I am saying is that I think it's more on the coaches that we didnt make the playoffs and not Jeff Ireland his year. If you being in a new GM, he will want a new coach. And a new coach and Gm regime may set us back til they get the team the way "they want it". I like continuity. Continuity is what wins in the nfl and that is not debatable. I'm really torn actually. I saw the Balt ravens last year go from a playoff team to a Super Bowl winning team when they replaced their OC (cam Cameron- the irony!). It makes me side on keeping Philbin, but with a new OC and DC. IF he doesn't want to replace them, then you fire him and blow it up. If you get rid of Ireland, realize that philbin is a lame duck if the new gm keeps him for 1 year before bringing in his choice for a HC.

This is why I sympathize with Steve Ross. Continuity wins. But is it worth hitting the reset button when we were thisclose to the playoffs?

Oh well. The Dullfins are playing golf during playoff time.....whats new?

Not an easy decision to make, mac. Either we fire both Ireland and Philbin or we put a Very strict overseer on them.

Ireland has to be laughing inside that he's still getting paid.

The answer is easy. Fire Ireland and let the new GM decide on Philbin.

I believe Ireland needs to be replaced for better talent evaluations etc....However the most important thing now is for Ross to fire OC Mike Sherman with his simplistic offense. Ross may have contractually given away the right to make a decision on Sherman, language on the agreement would have to be reviewed to know why the OC Mike Sherman is still with the Dolphins. Obviously Ross respects and wants Philbin back but Mike Sherman needs to be replaced more than any other move being considered.

Sherman cant make chicken salad out of chicken shyt.

As it is, we cannot go on. That is plain to see.

Cant win without a QB.

This is such a trash heap. I wish he'd just make a friggin decision already. Every day Ross delays is a wasted day to move ahead. Other teams are already hiring new HCs and assembling staffs. If Ross wants Sherman gone, who says Philbin will have his pick of quality replacements? And I'm starting to warm to the idea that no respectable coach would want to come here for what might be a 1 yr gig. If it doesn't work out, anyone believe there won't be a clean sweep in 2014?

And as far as Ireland/Philbin, I'm getting sick of Ireland not being able to get along with anyone. You now have 2 HCs, a VP (Parcells) and a glorified capologist (Aponte). Time to cut the cord Ross, if you're GM and HC can't get along, you should know by now that's a recipe for disaster.

Fire Philbin, Sherman, and all of Sherman's family. Hire Zimmer and Gruden from the Bengals as HC and OC. Ireland is 50/50 to me, but Philbin and Sherman are absolutely awful.

No decent HC would work with Irescum.

While Ireland did add Grimes, Wallace, and Gibson in 2013, he also added two LBs that nearly destroyed the entire defense. Even worse, it would be very difficult to cut either LB due to cap considerations.

With two NT going to free agency and Grimes a free agent, then the defense does not seem like a unit that is going to improve in 2014. The Dolphins are already way over-invested in the defense at this point.

The 2013 draft was, quite simply, a disaster at this point. Only the kicker played a significant role on a very average team. Perhaps some players will "develop."

The offense? It was horrid. Horrid.

This is not something that a change in OC or position coaches is going to fix.

After six years of losing out on talent in the draft and free agent signings that make no sense, it's time to change GMs.

Ireland has had 24 (counting trades to get the picks) draft choices in the first three rounds; Pouncey, Vernon, and Ordick are the ONLY players that are good at this point. No one knows anything about Jordon. Tannehill is still a question mark.

A team that misses on 21 of 24 premium picks is not close. It's a team heading for a disaster either next year or 2015 due to the lack of talent and not enough cap space to sign expensive free agents to mask those mistakes.

Just get a new QB. Draft "Mr Football" Johnny Manziel. Problems solved!! He doesnt need a great OL to be effective!!

Philbin and Ireland being at war with each other should be of no surprise. The GM ignored or did not realize the lack of talent and ability on the offensive line and then gives up picks to move up. Then he takes a P/T defensive end who did not see the field often enough to justify the move when the OL was not addressed. Many posts on this site defended Ireland for his move to get Jordan but it was a fundamental error by Ireland as was giving up a number one receiver without a replacement which allowed the Dolphins to be in dire need of WR talent the season before this one. I do not think Ross will replace Ireland however the owner will get advice from every expert in the business before making a final decision. Even the players realize the at the very least Sherman must be replaced. Give Sherman another position on staff. Like keeping track of the age and birthdays of all the players on the team

The bogger issue and the one we don't know the answer to is whether or not Ireland based his draft / FA acquisitions on what the HC, OC and DC presented as their most pressing needs. We all understand the need for an explosive WR and Wallace fits that bill. All of us I will assume as did the staff and GM understood from the get go that Wallace's strength is to use his speed to get open. He is not an "in traffic, fight off the DB" WR. So from this prespective the GM did fine. Now the fact that the OC planted him in one spot all year, rarely put him in motion or in the slot, nor ran crossing patterns usin his speed to create separation is on the coaches. Did Coyle with Philbins ok sway the GM to go after a speed rusher? Dont know. What I do know is that while the Fin's D was better at stopping the run pre Wheeler and Ellerbee, it didnt matter because every TE in the league seemed to have career days against Dansby and Burnett. Never mind the opposing team having a 3rd and eight to contend with after stopping the first two run plays, the opposing offense simply ended up hitting the TE or running back for 12 yards and a first down anyways. And yes, there wasnt much improvement this year, and the problem has reversed itself. Now teams just run on third and eight. Why? Well because the offense cant score. If the offense scores it pressures the opposing offense into gambling more often then not. Bad offense = bad defense in the NFL as its played today. Again it matters not. I dont see any major changes in 2014 In the four key spots GM HC OC and DC.


I agree that it would be difficult to hire a talented OC or position coach of any talent to come to Miami for a one year make or break season. Those with better options will probably avoid Miami, everything else being equal.

If I ever meet Stephen Ross there is only one question I would ask him. Did Joe Philbin bring his cue cards with him for the first interview and for last week's meetings?

"Time to cut the cord Ross, if you're GM and HC can't get along, you should know by now that's a recipe for disaster."

Posted by: DC Dolfan | January 06, 2014 at 08:49 AM

Absolutely, DC. This scenario has been played over and over in the NFL. Anybody who follows football knows how bad this can be for a team.

I like the idea of keeping Philbin and Co. simply because Ireland's had his time and failed repeatedly. The team has a scouting staff, Dir of Player Personnel and an assistant GM. It's not like Ireland's necessary for anything. Continuity can be achieved without Ireland. Just promote SOMEBODY or turn the player acquisition job over to Philbin and see what happens next year.


Don't remember you EVER saying 'the Dolphins should draft Keenan Allen' last March. If you did it must have been in passing, under one of your many names. Too easy and play Monday morning QB AFTER the fact.

I take it you'll admit you were wrong when Jordan. Becomes a star,right truth?....

Dear Mr. Salguero

1 The Michigan fool of flight

2 The Jets transporter...minus Jason Statham

3 The Search and failure

4 Rudderless in Miami

Soiled :)

I know, next year lets switch i up...run will be go and pass gogo...boy is that goig to drive the league crazy or what...we will be unstopable...here we come SB

Posted by: J T SANDRR | January 06, 2014 at 08:54 AM


The blogger knows there is not one household name on the roster via the draft in 6 years.


Tell me what GM is going to want to come to Miami and inherit Philbin and the coaching staff? No one.

If you get rid of Ireland you might as well get rid of everyone. Its that simple.

"If I ever meet Stephen Ross there is only one question I would ask him. Did Joe Philbin bring his cue cards with him for the first interview and for last week's meetings?"
That's funny! lol

DC/Sign, that is a valid point. Also keeping a disgruntled Philbin in a make or break season doesn't make much sense either.

It appears at this point they probably won't make major changes. If anything maybe Ireland goes. Still wouldn't be suprised if the OL and QB coach go.

Though whatever they do should happen quick. Grimes, Odrick, and Soliai need to be re-signed asap. Starks is probably going to get paid somewhere else.

As far as Dansby, he had a good year. He wasn't bad here, but couldn't cover and didn't create turnovers. Ellerbe needs to improve his run D obviously. Maybe they draft a LB.

Don't agree, Craig. Teams have been keeping GMs and replacing coaching staffs for years and keeping coaching staffs and replacing GMs. They will keep on doing it because it often works and is seen as the best way forward. Every circumstance is different. Your brush is too wide.

Steve Ross, worst owner ever?

And by the way, its very naive to think Philbin hasn't been HEAVILY involved in player acquisition since hes been here. First moves were to get rid of Marshall and Davis. He and Sherman wanted Tannehill, he got him. Didn't like the vocal leaders in Dansby, Bush and Long.....GONE. wanted more athletic linebackers for Coyle to play with....say hello to Ellerbe and Wheeler. Needed a stretch the field WR.....WELCOME WALLACE.

Ireland's given him everything he wants. If the results aren't there they should BOTH be gone. Its a team effort. last chance for both.

Craig M,

I personally think Philbin should go too but if not he is perfectly capable of finding his own personnel guy.

Lovie Smith is doing that very thing right now in Tampa. His top candidate is player personnel director for the Chiefs Chris Ballard.

Letting Karlos Dansby leave was MORONIC!

Ross is TOO CHEAP to pay a real GM.


It never works in the scenario you are talking about. Every GM wants his own coach and often his own QB. If you think Pioli is coming here to inherit Philbin and Tannehill long term you're kidding yourself. Pioli's a control freak, from the Par ells and Belichick tree. He'll do things HIS way, or not at all.

Bengals are overated as well as the chiefs.
Anything could happen in the playoffs that is why there is still hope for 2014!
Watch out for the colts and chargers!


I would love to hear your exposition on why the QB coach was ever hired and retained. It's my understanding he has never played the position and is not much more than a graduate assistant. Is he related to Sherman in any way?? In addition - do any of the coaches Philbum, brought in have any NFL experience as coaches?? I know the coordinators do. Plus I like the special teams coordinator he obviously knows what he's doing.

Why does the DC get a free ride??? Based on this years performance as well as the trend over the last two years, that makes no sense to me.

Dolfan Rick,

They are giving Lovie Smith complete control in Tampa. Hes never been a personnel guy before. It remains to be seen if its going to work or not. Philbin has for the most part been making a lot of the personnel decisions here. Hows that been working out so far? Do guys REALLY want to give him COMPLETE control over all personnel decisions? Hes made some bad calls in my opinion, in getting rid of Marshall,Bush and Dansby and questionable adds in Wheeler and Ellerbe.

Had Ireland left the 2012 LBs in place and focused on the offense, then this would have been a much better year IF(!) Ireland had drafted well.

He could have save major cap space by drafting a TE, 2 WR, an OG. He could have signed more talent in FA for the OL.

What actually happened was that the defense got worse and the offense did not improve. Worse, he wasted a good draft and cap space doing all of this.

This mis-building is similar to 2012 when he drafted Tannehill and did not have any TE and WR talent around him. The Colts got Luck and added two TEs and 1 WR in the same draft.

So many teams started from the same or worse situations than the Dolphins since the start of the Ireland era in 2008 and many of those teams are leaving Miami far behind.

Posted by: Craig M | January 06, 2014 at 09:14 AM

Craig, Philbin himself said he had negligible input in his first season because he was getting the coaching side together. This past year he commented that his involvement was not as much as he would have liked because of the constraints of his job. These were public comments.

Why hasnt Ireland been fired?

Promote Coyle to HC. He's the only one that did a good job.


I don't believe that for a second. You don't believe Philbin wanted Marshall, Davis, Long,Bush and Dansby gone? Thats the believe that most people have. He can't handle a team that has too strong a personality and questions his authority. I'm not surprised Dansby went on to have the year he had.

I have to agree with Craig - Both the coaching staff and Gm are to answer here. Like Mando said last week - the Gm provided enough talent for the team to beat multiple (not one or two ) playoff teams and the coaches also couldn't coax victories out of playing three games against last place teams.

Also the lack of personnel on the o line and LB is an indication of poor management on that side.

Philbin by all reports seems to be ready to sink or swim with his current co-ordinators. Seems a bit selfish to me. He is also taking along the careers of Tannehill and Ireland down with him.

I mean Sherman could only coax the 27th best offense out of the league despite having the Qb who accounted for the 10th most yards in the league ... how in the world does that happen??

On defense, you have a luxury of riches in contracts, pro bowlers, and high draft picks (some of which you can't or choose not to coach up or get into game scenarios) and you end up with the 21st best defense.

These co-ordinators truly defy logic.

Craig M,

You have to excuse me if I'm a little miffed at the moment.

Like I said I don't think Philbin should be let off the hook but we've had 6 years of dealing with Ireland's garbage. I guess I need a little more to time to build up my disdain for Philbin.

Btw if we axe Philbin and retain Ireland you realize it will be the 3rd coach Ireland has had.

Posted by: Craig M | January 06, 2014 at 09:26 AM

Craig, I'm sure you can easily find it with a search. Or do you believe Philbin is lying? Not sure which...

Ireland you realize it will be the 3rd coach Ireland has had.

Posted by: Dolfan Rick | January 06, 2014 at 09:30 AM
4th bowells

bill @ 9:22, mando also reported that at the 2012 draft Philbin and Ireland came together to make the Johnathan Martin pick and went through their joint thought process.

We saw on ahrd knocks how it was Philbin who gave the thumbs up on Vontae for a 2nd. It was filmed!!!

he truly has been elbow deep in some important personnel decisions.

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