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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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Nolan Carroll must go.

how 'bout fk Aponte and the cap space and just make the 2nd rd. of the f'n po's 4 1ce

this is what the f'n cap space got u

Truth, I'm with you on Philbin - I would give him this year but unless we see double digits in wins, there's no excuse. He would've had three years - the Qb position solidified - and whether or not he is top ten - he's good enough to get results. There is no excuse. They all stay or go at the end of next year ... no need for interviews or helicopters or constant debate.

As far as Whisenhunt goes ... when he had Warner ... he was great. he was great in Pittsburgh. Rivers was the 3rd best Qb in the NFL with him. he was very competitive even when he had KEvin Kolb who is barely in the league now. Nobody can win with a Skelton or those other jabronies they had playing Qb. I'm a big fan of Whisenhunt. he deserves another chance. Just go to that same Pittsburgh tree and find him a def co-ordinator because his prior units were no good.

Rising Dawn,

That's an excellent point about Aponte. I agree 100% on that. If she leaves there is really no one to blame at all. It's not like she's going to another team. She would be leaving for an important role with the NFL itself. As you said, that's something any of us would be honored by.

Mark, do you watch all these guys in college? Just wondering, you have an extensive knowledge of college players, and wasn't sure if you just watch college ball all the time, or if you have like a self-scouting operation up there.

I'm asking because you're knowledge of players I've never heard of before is quite impressive.

The point was that Ross might have a very capable GM candidate in Aponte all along. If she leaves or goes to another team as a GM and does a good job, then he DID let her get away.

Meanwhile, Ireland sits in his office checking the arrest records of the mothers of potential draft choices for guidance on who to draft...

From a presser at the coaches meeting in Arizona early in 2013, J Philbin:

(On if he’s a little more involved in the personnel on the roster as opposed to last year when it was his first year) –

“I’ve had more time. Let’s put it that way, absolutely. In the first year, you’re putting together a staff. You’re putting your calendar together, time frames, all those things. Obviously, we have a much better handle on that at this point. I would say definitely more of my time has been devoted to personnel.”

Dolfan Rick,

I'm not giving Ireland a free pass here. He's a responsible as anyone. They either both go or both stay. Thats how I see it.

Posted by: Craig M | January 06, 2014 at 09:37 AM

More hypocrisy. When Sporano was fired, you were all gung ho that Ireland should stay.

Now he can go but, only if Philbin goes? So, that's not givin him a free pass?

Open thy mouth & we shall insert thy foot.

State of the Team Talking Points:

1 - Defense is dreadful, especially against the run. Cannot cut two of the worst LBs in the league due to cap hit. Two DTs are free agents. Top CB is a free agent. Second CB is hurt most of the year.

2 - Special teams is average, except for the punter.

3 - Offense is horrible. The QB is a mystery. Throwing for yards - Dalton does the same but he has limitations. Tannehill has his strengths, but his weaknesses may be limiting his ceiling. The offense needs a new OL, new RB, new WR, another TE and a rookie QB to develop as insurance.

4 - Head Coach does not inspire confidence. His assistants, even less so. At best, he's a lame duck next year, which normally leads to disappointment or disaster.

5 - Front office has not acquired enough talent for a very long time. Ireland has been GM for six years and he's struggled. Aponte wants out - probably for good reason.

6 - Owner has struggled as well. He seems too loyal to Ireland. Perhaps he's too loyal to Philbin as well.

Conclusion: The rebuild of a rebuild is not going well. The team is simply not put together well and the lack of talent from multiple drafts is beginning to catch up with the Dolphins. Also, some very big FA signings have resulted in paying for poor performance with valuable cap space.

If a team is striking out in the draft and the FA market, then there is going to be a collapse at some point. Especially when the franchise QB is struggling. Tannehill has strengths and weaknesses. His play against the Jets was simply horrid. He's 10th out of all 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year QBs in QB rating.

The silver lining is that if the 2014 season starts to unravel (like 2011), then the Dolphins should fire everyone in mid-season and try to get the number 1 overall pick in the draft to finally get the QB they need.

beerphin, if you love your WRs, tune into kelvin Benjamin of FSU tonight - manbeast!! By all indications, he would be available at our pick. Without seeing how this guy tests out athletically, he sure passes the eye test and leaves you with a wow factor.

But Watkins, Evans, benjamin, Green-Beckham, these are the types of wideouts we need - especially if we go with Tannehill long term - huge catching radius'

AntiMatter--there's no indication whatsoever Aponte is leaving for another team. That would be different. But since that is NOT what is happening (or potentially happening) it is irrelevant to the discussion.

I'm sure you understand the concept of career advancement. It happens every day in every industry.

Let me ask you: If YOU were Aponte and were offered a high-level job in NFL management would you not seriously consider it? Would you not take the job if offered?

I find it hardtop believe you wouldn't.

This is NOT a case of letting someone "get away." People have the right to advance their own careers as they see fit and if Aponte is offered this prestigious job is IS a step up the ladder for her.

Does anyone ever understand or read 2watts posts, ever? What a gigantic waste of time. Every post is an epic fail.

What is Ross supposed to do? Tie Aponte to a chair and refuse to allow her to leave?

Agreed there is nobody to blame if she goes. This isn't slavery. I wish her the best.

I will name the helicopter after out cadence....Go when it lands and Go Go when it leaves

It's understood that GM's get between $1 mil and $3 mil a year. The Charger's GM just got a new contract that is for 5 years and worth roughly $11 mil. This is per Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. It's "believed to be the 3rd richest and the longest pact among the league's general managers".

Without absolute certainty it's thought that Jeff Ireland get's roughly $2.8/year. He was given an extension last summer for an additional year.

I wonder if Ross feels he's getting his money's worth?

Hey DC, I do love watching college ball ... I do not watch everyone play but I do watch a lot of top 25 teams play and some players you get to see more than others because the same teams tend to be on tv. I also do spend a bunch of time closer to the draft comparing test results for players of similar positions and slo comparing their in season statistical performance as well. it's superficial of course but still gives you a pretty good benchmark of who may be mid round steals or who may be a fraud at the top of the draft (for instance I hated jarvis Jones in the first last year) but not surprised when guys like Terron Armstead and Sam Brenner flash because their athletic test scores overall were excellent for where they were drafted or in Brenner's case UFA

If Ross started to stand in the way of his employees--like Aponte--pursuing bigger career opportunities then good luck finding ANYBODY worthwhile coming to work for him in the future. Who the hell would want to be in an environment like that?

Honestly, some of you guys need to take the blinders off. That's simply not how you do things.

Posted by: Sign | January 06, 2014 at 10:47 AM

My silver lining is since 1999, we've made the Playoffs 27% of the time. So roughly once every four years. And it's been 5, so we're due (but we're now at the bottom third of the league in Playoff appearances). It's been a hard fall for the mighty Dolphins of old.

In short, I'ma numbers and football junkie so this si how it morphs itself I guess...

Also with college football, I'm a fan of teh U but not fanatical about them so it allows me to watch college ball for the sheer love of the game without massive fan biases which makes it extremely enjoyable.

Oscar Mentalo,
did you have to wax that door or the fronds you used as oars??

Polian echoed the same sentiments I echoed this morning. Philbin has little to nothing to work with.

You cannot make chicken salad out of chicken shyt.

It's amazing that people don't see this. Look around the teams in the playoffs & look at their rosters compared to ours.

It's NIGHT & DAY talent wise. The only team playing way above their heads, talent wise, is NE. But, they have Brady & Bellichek.

Every other team is very talented. Compare Miami's roster to ANY playoff team & you will see MAJOR short comings in talent ALL OVER THE FIELD ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BALL.

This isn't coaching folks, this is talent evaluators.

Yea, give Ireland another year. I'm sure it'll be any different than the last 6. Spend money on FA's, miss on most & maybe 1 or 2 pan out just enough to keep us .500.


Yes, it's been a very hard fall from the Shula Dolphins.

For me, the frustrating thing is that there was so much that could have been done to improve the team. It did not have to be this bad. Lol.

Once more time - for those who can't read between the lines. What I was suggesting is that Ross dump Ireland and give serious consideration to Aponte as GM. Simple as that.

If she's as qualified for the position as I have heard from everyone who knows her, then hire her before she leaves. If not, then get someone else.

A capologist with financial skills and legal knowledge and is not hard to replace. That's not the point. A capable GM with multi-faceted NFL experience and financial discipline is harder to find.

Jeff Ireland should wash rhea chopper for the remaining time on his contract and also take out the garbage.

Philbin gets a pass cause Shula likes him

Sherman can do whatever he wants because everyone is scared of him

Oh well there you have it

Oscar,didn't a russian mig 21 eject u over Hialeah going 800 mph back in the 60's?

The funny thing is all the experts called for us to be 6-10

So did we over perform aha that's the question

1 inbounds toe and a phantom pi and they r 6-10.

1 game indy, they had flags


Sorry folks as bad as Ireland may be, the blame in my book rests with the coaching staff and particularily with the head coach who cant see or worse wont see that his OCs coaching and play calling is a determent to the team. He is stubborn, old school, and refuses to adjust the offense in trying to overcome a weak o line. Like so many have pointed out, no roll outs, no read option, no screens, no putting your fastest wr in motion or in the slot to create mismatches, no fullback, limiting 6'5" TEs from running patterns in the seams, and so on. I dont care if Egnew cant block, he can run and from all accounts can catch. So why not use him? Not trying to compare him with other TEs but I dont really think the Saints marvel at Grahams blocking ability or the Pats reval in Gronks ability to seal the edge, or Harbaugh commenting on the great blocks made by V Davis. The difference between the Fins and just about every other team is they use their TEs as receiving weapons. While Clay had a fantistic year, when opposing defenses took him away, they really took him away. The reason...size matters at the TE position. It works wonder when the QB can throw up higher than having to aim low. Again, this all goes back to the OC and the HC not simply having the nerve to tell his OC what he wants to do. In the Fins way of doing things the OC is calling the shots and the HC is just watching it unfold, diasterously week after week.

I bet no one looked at it like that

6-10 is over performing 4 this pathetic bunch

LOL, you saying every team has talent except for ours?

Then Philbin should be coach of the year to get us to 8-8. i don't think that's a correct statement either.

I think we have major holes but we didn't beat 4 playoff teams by being overall talent void. I mean, I can understand one or max two on victories against good teams. But beating the good teams wasn't a problem for us all year.

More power to you Mark. I try watching as much college as I can, but the wifey and I have a deal, if I handle my responsibilities on Saturday she'll leave me alone Sunday. Which works for me.

We are right where we are supposed to be folks we are primed for our next phase

I f Philbin goes, who would replace him? Got a feeling this loser franchise won't fire anyone one!

Didn't aponte fu$k up on porters contract or something like that? Fu$k her too. She should be gone as well. Ear force one is ross' copter.

We will be just fine after another offseason to add more talent to this starved roster

Ear one to ground control is there anyone there copy

I thought we were bad imagine being a Bengal right now


Any good organization needs ti have HC and GM working hand in hand. It doesn't work any other way. I don't any of us actually knowhow things work in Miami. I don't get how this team drafts Egnew in. The third round and then never plays him. I don't get how this team trades up for Jordan and then never plays him. That to me would be the cause of tensions between Ireland and Philbin. If Philbin wanted Egnew then how come they haven't coached. Him up better to be a better player. Again, a disconnect.

And you say, 'Tannehill was all Ireland'. I have a very time believing Ireland drafted Tannehill and his former College head coach and current head coach didn't want him. More likely they were strong advocates for Tannehill being the QB of this team and Ireland agreed.

Bengals have been in the Playoffs every year Dalton's been a Pro. I'd MUCH rather have that problem then getting into the Playoffs twice a decade.

Let's remain positive Guys it will get better

Does loyalty equal wins? Don Shula was loyal to Tom Olivadotti, Tony Sparano was loyal to Dan Henning. Joe Philbin wants to show loyalty to Mike Sherman. In the end, loyalty without positive results(wins) gets you fired!

Once more time - for those who can't read between the lines. What I was suggesting is that Ross dump Ireland and give serious consideration to Aponte as GM. Simple as that.

Posted by: AntiMatter | January 06, 2014 at 11:03 AM

And one more time - for those who can't seem to grasp the concept - a job offer for a significant management role in the NFL OFFICES is a career advancement hat exceeds ANY General Manager position with an individual team.

Again, the question remains: If YOU were Aponte and you had the opportunity to take a significant job with the league itself and help formulate NFL policy you wouldn't pursue that chance? You would prefer to simply stay put with an individual team as GM or anything else? I really find that hard to believe.

What's with all the sway all of a sudden with Dawn Aponte? What skills does she really have when it comes to doing the GM job? So she is good at contract negotiaitions. Does this give her an insight to player development, provide her with a keen scouting eye, or some special team building accumen? If the only argument is that anyone is better than Ireland, then there isnt much there. No bother coming back with internet stuff because I have read it as well and again, nothing, including real news outlets provide any insight other than she would be the first female GM. Thats fine with me as soon as someone anyone produces a list of players she recommended to draft, sign, cut, waive, or trade. Anyone know of such a list? So she has worked i the NFL front offices...swell. She worked for the Jets for 15 years...how did rhat work out for them. Just saying, before this wagon picks up anymore speed, what can you fellow fans provide in the way of the Aponte portfolio?

I saw lots of clutch QB play over the weekend, minus Andy Dalton's performance. QB's elevating the offensive talent around them and willing their teams down the field with excellent decision making. Then I contrast that to what I saw from Tannehill the last two weeks of the season. Quarterbacks rule the playoffs, not running games or dominant defense. Its like starting pitching in the MLB playoffs. It doesn't matter how many runs you scored in the regular season, the starting pitchers own the playoffs. While Luck and Kaepernick are carving out their legacies with each playoff win, Tannehill is still mired in a sea of question marks. He absolutely gets a third year with a better line, but he needs to start earning his paycheck in the 4th quarter with the season on the line.

The Bengals will be consistent losers again in due time. Nobody is a cheaper owner than Mike Brown and their all is inevitable (not that they're world beaters now).

Who cares!!!

Look at teams like The Texans and The Ravens, that have a much stronger roster than The Dolphins, and yet had such poor outcomes. Phibin is a good coach and the GM is not as bad as people suggest. However the assistants, especially Sherman need to be upgraded. Never understood why they brought him in as O.C. anyway. Why are people so surprised that we did not finish strong? The truth is with that offensive line it is a miracle they even finished at 500. And did not get the QB hospitalized. Let's be real people.

DC, interesting predicament the bengals are in. Some less than knowledgeable media types were clamouring for Dalton's head before the playoffs and likely more are clamouring for them now. I thought in at least teh first playoff meeting and possibly the 2nd, the bengals were out gunned and didn't have much chance so I didn't put much of that on Dalton. But yesterday was different. He turned the ball over three times - at home. Not good at all. Weird thing is that over the season he had this rep for turning the ball over but his turnover rate was 4.1% per attempt. The league average was 4.2% - so he was slightly better than averge. he also produced almost 4,400 yards of offense and 35 tds in year. I had him at #8 on my personal qb rankings for 2013 in between Roethlisberger and brady.

I think Cincy should keep going with Dalton. Going to be impossible to replace that kind of production and he's still very young. He's good enough to win with and as he matures further the turnovers will decrease.

For the record, I'm neither pro or con with Aponte remaining with the Dolphins. She has clearly done a good job as a capologist but none of us has enough insight to know whether or not that would translate into effective GM skills.

I am simply pointing out that if she leaves for a prestigious role with the NFL that is not a case of letting someone "get away." It is simply a case of career advancement for ANYBODY with ANY team.

Frank from Pa @ 7:23 AM:

I can think of 5 ex-Dolphins players right away that were cut by Ireland and were/are in the playoffs (6 if you count Satele on the Colts, but that could have been Parcells)::

1) Vontae Davis - Colts
2) Sean Smith - Chiefs
3) Richard Marshall - Chargers
4) Anthony Fasano - Chiefs
5) Rob Ninkovich - Patriots

It seems many Dolphin players that leave Miami go on to excel with othervteams. Sometimes that is because they are a better fit in other teams schemes, but I tend to lean towards they are coached up.

If there was going to be a change, it would have happened right after the Jets game. Ross doesn't want to fire anyone, so he's delaying and delaying. It's classic PR.

Ireland and Philbin will get another year.

Lame duck coaches and GMs make desperate moves. Considering the subpar drafts in the past six years, the 2014 draft could be an epic fail.

So, while other teams that started out worse than Miami in recent years are contending for Superbowls, Miami Dolphin fans are now facing the reality of looking forward to the 2015 draft.

The Dolphins could have drafted many of the young players that are doing so well throughout the league. Many of those players were discussed on this board by various posters.

Ireland has repeatedly missed on picks in the top three rounds of the draft. In six years, only Vernon, Ordick and Pouncey have played at a good to high level from those rounds. Jordon is a nonfactor for a reason; he's not that good at this point.

Tannehill. Opinion is all over the place on him. One thing to consider is that he's currently only the fifth best QB from the 2012 class; Luck, RGIII, Wilson and Foles all ranked higher in 2013. Even more of a concern is that, of these five, only Tannehill has never played in a playoff game.

Of course, the talent around Tannehill is very modest. That's on the GM.

McCoy finished the season with the same record as the fins and his team had a lot more talent. Anyway Philbin and Ireland are here for one more year. Sherman is gone for sure. Coyle should also be in jeapordy, his game planning and lack of adjustments was horrible. He essentially had players that played at much higher levels prior to him coming here. Say what you want about Sparano, his teams always played hard for him. This team seems to lay down quite easily and plays down to their opponent.

Vontae Davis was cut by Miami??

When did that happen? They go two 2nd round picks for him.

LOL, you saying every team has talent except for ours?

Then Philbin should be coach of the year to get us to 8-8. i don't think that's a correct statement either.

I think we have major holes but we didn't beat 4 playoff teams by being overall talent void. I mean, I can understand one or max two on victories against good teams. But beating the good teams wasn't a problem for us all year.

Posted by: Mark in Toronto | January 06, 2014 at 11:13 AM

Every tem in the postseason is LOT more talented than us, YES. If you disagree, you're jut being a homer.

YES, the sun can shine on a dogs as* every now & then & we can beat some good teams. That's life in the NFL.

What you will notice however, is that the really good, talented teams don't play down to their competition every week like the Phins do.

They don't get swept by a horrible Bills team. They don't get spanked at home by an awful Jets team. They don't get beat by an awful Bucs team.

Every good team has a let down game here & there. That easily explains why the Colts, Pats, Bengals & Chargers lost to Miami but continued on to the post season.

How else do you explain it? Those teams won consistently all year. Chargers up until recently. Considering the coaching & personnel changes in year 1 of that franchise & what they are doing is impressive.

Talented teams bounce back from ugly losses. Talent devoid teams don't. I didn't say Miami has no talent. What I said was they are ORDINARY. They are. Hard to argue that if you have any objectivity to you.

The phins are inferior to good teams. Period. Their record every year shows it. Youcan blame coaches every other year but, the only constant in all these mediocre seasos is 1 man. Ireland.

They players he brings in are A. not good enough & B. Not as good as other successful teams.

Look guys we know NOTHING about what was said between Ireland, Philbin and Ross. We don't know if Philbin and Ireland get along or not. We don't know if Ross told Philbin he wants Sherman gone.


I think the answer is simple....Go All In our All Out. I don't like making half a move. You either get rid of you Ireland AND Philbin or you let them both have another year.

I don't want to bring in a new HC or a new GM and forcing them to embrace the incumbent. That is not the way to attract top talent in either a GM or HC position and we all know it. I just hope Ross does too.

If Dawn Aponte's best skills are managing contracts - they can get a lot of people to do that job. It's not an overly difficult skill to accomplish, heck with a few weeks training I could do the job. There are CPAs all over the state to or 31 other teams or even interally to promote.

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