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The arguments: Coaching vs. personnel dept.


The NFL is about pitting opposing forces against each other in a battle for survival. It's about one team against another. An offense against a defense. A unit, perhaps offensive line, against another unit, such as the defensive line. Sometimes the NFL even pits a team against itself. Teammates practice against one another. Teammates at the same position compete against one another for jobs and playing team.

And at times like this, one department within a team may be forced to face off against another.

That's what it seems might have happened with the Dolphins Thursday. You see, if owner Stephen Ross's visit to the Dolphins training facility was what was widely reported -- a fact-finding mission to help the owner understand why his team was only 8-8 -- then Ross might have unintentionally been asking one department to face off against another.

On Thursday at Dolphins camp it could have been the coaching staff vs. the personnel department.

It was Ross meeting separately with coach Joe Philbin and general manager Jeff Ireland to find out why things went sideways in 2012. And he almost surely got vastly different answers to the same questions.

We already know Philbin believes his coaching staff, led by offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, did an outstanding job in 2013. That's why Philbin wants to keep the group intact. And it's pretty clear the personnel department believes it also deserves a continuing opportunity to upgrade the Dolphins because, well, the talent in '13 was upgraded over 2012.

But both cannot be exactly right when they're both responsible for a team folding in the final two weeks and losing as many games as it won. So here are the different views of the world:

The coaching staff's view: We did as well as we could under difficult circumstances and talent that simply wasn't good enough.

The personnel department's view: We provided enough talent to get this team to the playoffs and the development and coaching of that talent failed to get us there.

I'm not saying that is exactly what the two department heads -- Philbin and Ireland -- told Stephen Ross. But ultimately, that has to have been the general message for each to make a case they deserve to continue with the team.

Same team. Two different views of why the Dolphins failed to make the playoffs.

And, interestingly, both can score points. Both have a case. It's not 100 percent one department's fault why the Dolphins didn't reach the playoffs.

Consider, if you will, the issues I am about to present. I will give you the coaching staff's view of the issue and the personnel department's view.

The offensive line

The coaching staff's view: Are you kidding us? We worked a miracle with this rag tag bunch. Sure they allowed a franchise record 58 sacks but we lost two starters, we were working with an afterthought signing at RT that got benched midway through the season, we had to start Sam Brenner, a rookie undrafted guy, a couple of games. We might have used a rookie high-round draft pick to fill in but we didn't have any. We had Dallas Thomas but he didn't meet his draft pedigree expectations. We made Mike Pouncey into a Pro Bowl player. And we didn't have Jake Long.

The personnel department's view: We offered Jake Long nearly as much money to sign in Miami as he got in St. Louis and he made the decision to leave. We didn't cast him out. Also, he finished the season on the injured reserve list for the third time in three years so he simply is not a playoff-caliber LT because he doesn't last until the playoffs anymore. We had a solid answer to replace Long with Jonathan Martin but he freaked out. That's not the personnel department's fault. And even before that happened, we traded for Bryant McKinnie and he played well much of the time he was here. As for right tackle, Tyson Clabo was very good in Atlanta last year and was good toward the end of this season. He neither forgot how to play after leaving Atlanta nor suddenly remembered late in the year. His early season struggles was a coaching issue. Oh yeah, we drafted Mike Pouncey.

The run defense

Coaching staff's view: The two new linebackers the personnel department signed -- Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler -- didn't pan out as advertised. They didn't play downhill. They didn't make plays behind the line of scrimmage. They weren't the upgrade we were promised. Randy Starks had a good year. Paul Soliai was good as well. We improved the play of Cameron Wake in holding the edge and developed Olivier Vernon into a fine player. We rock!

Personnel department's view: The two new linebackers did not play as well in Miami under this coaching staff as they did last year for different staffs -- Ellerbe in Baltimore and Wheeler in Oakland. And here's a trend: The two guys we got rid of, because this staff wanted an upgrade, played better for their new coaches than they played here for these guys. By the way, we didn't overpay for Starks or Soliai so they played harder in a contract year. And we drafted Vernon. What a bargain!

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill

The coach staff's view: He improved this year. He's still a work in progress but anyone who doesn't see he's getting better is a hater. Yes, he's got pocket presence issues. But Zac Taylor will take care of those next training camp just like he took care of the issue for ... um, nevermind. Tannehill cannot hit the deep pass to Mike Wallace but that's because Wallace runs too fast. Why did we sign a guy that runs too fast? We will get that taken care of next training camp.

The personnel staff's view: We drafted him. Fans said we overdrafted him at No. 8. If he was coming out in this year's draft he'd be No. 1 overall to the Texans. You going to get rid of a GM who finally found you a quarterback? Checkmate.

Mike Wallace

The coaching staff's view: He had a great season. We were given a player who doesn't fight for the football when it's in the air so his ball skills are questionable. He had durability issues in training camp and we milked him for a good, solid season. It's not our fault if someone, ahem, overpaid for him.

The personnel department's view: Wallace is a proven, dynamic, deep threat receiver who averaged 17.5 yards per catch in Pittsburgh and that's what he would have been here if the coaching staff hadn't turned him into a 12.7 yard per catch possession receiver. They always lined him up on the same side of the field. They never motioned him to get him open quicker. They never used him in the slot.

Brent Grimes

The coaching staff's view: We coached him back to his Pro Bowl form.

The personnel department's view: We saw something in him and were willing to pay what other teams, including the Atlanta Falcons, were not. We rock!

Reshad Jones

The coaching staff's view: He took something of a step back once those other guys paid him. We did the best we could and turned him into a run-stopping strong safety.

The personnel department's view: He was becoming a playmaker until those other guys couldn't find a way to stop to the run and started lining him up in the tackle box most of the time.

The rookie draft class

The coaching staff's view: They didn't help one bit. They were always hurt. It's as if they weren't there. We can't make chicken salad out of chicken, well, you know.

The personnel department's view: No one developed them. Great coaching staffs develop players as we go, even after training camp is over. This group gives up on young players after training camp so it takes a year to develop even the good players -- like Olivier Vernon. Trust us, Dion Jordan is a beast and Jamar Taylor will be good.

The running game

The coaching staff's view: We didn't have Reggie Bush. The offensive line fell apart. Daniel Thomas is just a guy. Lamar Miller is just a faster guy, but ultimately he's JAG.

The personnel department's view: Bush fumbled a bunch and was benched in Detroit. How do you think that would have played here? Miller averaged 4 yards a carry. We'll address the position in the offseason. And, by the way, you can't run the ball against Buffalo (the No. 26 ranked team against the run) if you don't try it more than 12 times. New England ran it on Buffalo 43 times one week after we tried only 12 runs. They gained 267 yards.

The collapse

The coaching staff's view: We had a bad game at Buffalo and none of the players made a play. That's a talent issue. Against New York, they played very well. We congratulate the New York Jets for the victory. They deserved to win. But everyone gave effort. We tried hard. We milked every last point out of a team that was so lacking in talent we were 3-4 against AFC teams that failed to make the playoffs.

The personnel department's view: We were talented enough to beat Phillip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton and Tom Brady but we lost to Thad Lewis twice and Geno Smith with the playoffs on the line? We were 4-1 against AFC playoff teams but lost twice to the last-place Bills and the winless (at the time) Bucs? That inconsistency isn't a talent issue. We had the talent to make the playoffs.


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The sad thing is we are going to have to read this firing gossip for weeks because no one is going to be fired.



I tend to see it the same way as you. My only problem is that Ireland drafted Martin and he was wrong on him. He kept Cogs when Philbin wanted him gone. He traded up last year and could have drafted an OT but chose to draft Jordan. I think the poor OL this year is mostly Ireland's doing.

I guess I could add that he let Long walk too and was wrongly that Martin could replace him.

Uhh, I think you forgot the fact that it was a total crap weather week in the middle of a holiday season and the Bills were already out of the playoffs. Don't compare their fan base to ours. Have you BEEN to a Dolphins game lately? Look, I'm a Dolphins fan and bleed Aqua and Orange. I want to the Orange Bowl when this team was relevant.

You couldn't be any more wrong about the Bills fanbase. I know a TON of Bills fans that see optimism with the new regime. THey led the league in defensive turnovers. At least they are exciting for Christsake!! But they share one thing in common with Fins fans. THEY ARE SICK OF LOSING.

I want to old days back and if you think the current cast is getting us there, think again.


Stephen Ross isn't going to fire anyone, unless he fires everyone & starts with a new GM. Joe Philbin has a clause in his contract that only he can hire & fire any of his coaches & unless he wants to fire Philbin all the coaches stay. So like I said, it will be everybody or nobody & right now it's looking more like nobody. He went into his meeting yesterday with only Matt Higgins as an adviser & he knows absolutely nothing about running a team. If Miami loses next year only Stephen Ross will be to blame.


Nobody actually disclosed to Mando what was said.


Wallace down the right side only confirms that Tannehill does not either have the Arm Strength or the skill for the deep ball. Simple positions as Weak side and Strong side says it all. The LT position is important because it protects the "BLIND SIDE". Him throwing down the right side compared to repositioning his body or across the body throws only makes sense since there was no line and time. Imagine him staring into the face of a DE coming in from the blind side while he is trying to make a throw deep. Even more sacks and turn overs. Bad coaching. But then again if Ireland had brought in Jennings the season might have ended differently. A lot of Ifs, ands & Buts.


I don't consider myself a reactionary and in the past I'd be preaching patience. But no more. Everyone deserves a pink slip but unfortunately I think you're right. It'll be the status quo for our beloved Dolphins.


We played the #1 defense in game 15 and the #2 defense in game 16 and our injuries were too much to overcome. Furthermore the new CBA does not allow nearly as much player conditioning and players are breaking down all over the league. Even so we increased our win total and we were competitive all year.

Mando likes stirring the pot, because it is his job to write articles. But make no mistake Mando knows less about this team or NFL football than I do.

Miami has two ways to go & 2 ways only !

1) Either keep the whole regime in tact for 1 more season with the ultimatum, win next year or you are all fired.

2) Fire Jeff Ireland, Joe Philbin & the entire coaching staff & start from scratch. Tom Gamble & Jason Licht are the 2 bext possinle available GM candidates.


What is going to happen is this. Philbin and his gang of tools is going to get together and come up with a master plan. After the circle jerk and blaming the players for all of the problems they will present their plan to Ross, who will allow the travesty to continue.

Ireland and Dawn Aponte will remain to once again waste an orgy of poor picks sending at least one stud for Philbin to sit on the bench.

Next year the team will be 9-7, miss the playoffs because they needed to be 10-6 and we will go through this again. When we get to 10-6 the following year we will not make the playoffs because the other guys will be 11-5. Once again we will go through the orgy bring the cap up to the max and then boom, Ross will fire these incompetent turds.

Ross will then hire a bunch of new guys and we will start over.

Instead of going for it right now.

Want to put fans in the seats? Go INVEST $10mm a season in Bill Cowher and put Jeff Ireland out on the streets. Dolphin fans will finally believe the franchise in on the right track.

tannehill may have always been in a west coast offense but i don't think that offense truly fits him or wallace for that matter. hartline yes, bess would have fit. those quick slants.

i thought all 2 seasons that the offense was very vanilla and easy to defend. i'd like an offense that allows a big fast QB to get some space and the freedom to move. it was as if RT was told stay in the pocket no matter what. he pretty much did!! maybe i'm crazy, but even looking at RT on the sideline it seemed he wasn't ever being taught, he was being told what to to. it also seems like instead of audibles he had a choice of A or B. i believe if you wanna see tannehill improve you get him a new OC at the very least. but i'd rather see the whole staff go. i don't want any more guys who play the game to be close at the end and HOPE we can pull out a win. that has been what we've had for 7? years now. i don't need a coach high fiving everyone, but how about one that makes a gutsy, creative, run through walls for him team. i don't like rex at all. but would you ever see our players talking and celebrating like the jets do for philbin, soprano, cameron???

What a mess this franchise has become. The personnel side and the coaching staff working against each other instead of working together. Finger pointing all over the place.

How can anyone say we will make the playoffs next year when this regime can't even get on the same page with regards to moves made and how to coach those moves.

I don't see us any closer to the playoffs. I only see us as further away from them

The issues are not lack and white and unfortunately neither are the solutions, but somebody may need to be accountable for a talented team and promising season underachieving and ultimately collapsing in embarrassing fashion.

It is inevitable that Sherman will leave, which means that Tannehill will eventually have to learn a new system. What OC's are out there right now that have good systems and are great QB mentors?

If Ian's info is right and Sherman has more influence over team that we realize then there must be a power struggle and that isn't good (Obviously). Is he giving a 100% effort or sandbagging to make Philibin look inept?

Seems like the relationship between coaching staff and front office is pretty dysfunctional.

Brian Gaine seems like logical choice to replace Ireland mainly because of continuity during draft process. Pioli really caused a stir in KC, but their roster looks pretty good right now.

Coaching candidates, well time is ticking on that one........

All the Dolphins need is 6 new starters on the Offense,4 new starters on the Defense,a qualified Head Coach and a Semi-decent Offensive line coach and they will be in the hunt for the AFC East next year.I can't wait.

Look people Miami may have puttered all year & stunk up the last 2 games due to all the important players we lost along the way & we may have just run out of gas. Of course it could have also be from bad coaching or bad drafting as well. WE WILL NEVER KNOW, BECAUSE ANY ONE OF US CAN BE RIGHT & ALL WE CAN DO IS BE FANS. My message would be to quit playing couch GM & root for the team or another team.

Is it possible that Tannehill has outgrown Sherman? Hes been with Sherman for like 4-5 years now. I'm sure he knows his system inside and out. But what if playing under Sherman now stunts his growth? Maybe he needs the challenge of playing under someone else to challenge him further? Just saying...

I like Norv Turner but there are other guys. Scott Linehan was always though of as a bright young guy has his stock slipped? What about Jim Schwartz? Wasn't he an OC in Tennessee? Bit of a pr*ck but all accounts but still thought off as a bright guy to be an OC. How about Gary Kubiak? Didn't work as a HC but might be good as an OC. I'm sure there are lots more out there.

didn't Ireland pick our last 47 olinemen. That's about how many we've had. He said our Oline is not bad for only 6 years.

I agree with some. As much as I'd like to see Ireland gone, Philbin & his staff are to blame for the failure to make the playoffs. The wins were made NOT because of coaching but in spite of them. Fire Philbin (which Ross won't do) or don't fire anybody.

Firing Sherman will only postpone the inevitable...they'll all be gone the next year.

@ Craig M : That is very possible, but like I said ONLY Joe Philbin has the power to hire or fire coaches here as long as he's the head coach.

@ Sherman : Yes Jeff Ireland had been terrible at drafting offensive lineman, but over he's been about average in regards to drafting.

Posted by: Rick | January 03, 2014 at 11:57 AM


All or nothing, but i still think we can upgrade the play caller.


The Philbin/Sherman relation reminds me of the Bush/Chenney White House. You never know who really is running the show. Both of the top men lacked experience so they delegated and were influenced to much by their "friend" Bad Scene Dude.


Thats fine. But Philbin works for Ross. If Ross TELLS Philbin he needs to make a change, Philbin will have a choice. Make the change or lose his job.

Listen, the Dolphins blew a GOLDEN chance to make the playoffs. Someone needs to be held accountable for that. In the end I think it will be Sherman but I wouldn't mind if it was Coyle too.

Posted by: klndry | January 03, 2014 at 11:58 AM

I think Kindry is in the ballpark :) If anybody goes it might be one of the coordinators after a stern warning from Ross to Philbin. But that's probably about it. Same old same old

Nobody is getting fired, Sherman may "retire" but nobody is getting fired. This year.

Fire everyone PERIOD.

@ wallyfin : The play calling may have been that bland because of the deficiencies with the offensive line. We will have to wait until next season to find out. I am sure since rumor came out that Ryan Tannehill has lost confidence in Mike Sherman's offensive play calling that Joe Philbin, Mike Sherman & Ryan Tannehill will have a sit down together & iron things out before next season starts.

With all of the above being said, I think the best course of action for continuity would be to keep the coaching staff intact for one more season. Change just for change's sake is a time wasting set-back.

Off season to do list:

-Upgrade along the O-line.
-Bring in a stud running back who can break tackles to compliment Miller.
-Resign Grimes and Starks.
-Bring back Keller if healthy.
-Get Hartline and Brandon Gibson healthy.
-A full-off season of work to integrate some of the newcomers: Dion Jordon, Jamar Taylor, Ellerbe, etc.
-Lots of timing practice between Wallace and T-hill to get those guys on the same page.
-More freedom for T-hill to use his legs to extend plays.

Rest assured even if their are no coaching changes, THEIR WILL BE changes in the snap counts, plays & play calling next year.

I think Tannehill does need a new OC not a totally new system. Sherman can only take him so far. i think with the right OC and Qb coach Tannehill can be great.


I don't buy that Tannehill has lost confidence in Sherman. I know thats what was reported but my guess is that was floated by his agent to protect his client. Just my guess.

Whos's Chris Ingram?

Dulphins 2-14 next season with the same lame gm same hc and same staff, and of course same sh$tty qb. Clueless ross will give irescum another 1 year extension and failbin a 2yr extension and he will say we are close to where we want to be. Pathetic. Oh yeah put a red curly wig on ross and you have bozo the clown.

I agree with Mark in Toronto (love the profile pick btw never change always brightens my day) sadly nobody will be fired.

Ireland has made some good & bad moves, but no playoffs in 6 years is a huge red mark & no production from last draft class - wouldn't mind moving on from him. Overall though in the cap world of the NFL he has brought in some talent, but the OL continues to haunt this team year after year.

Philbin - seemed to have enough talent to win but believe was outcoached - he was a reach to begin with for a HC. I say let me go and get in an experienced HC to work with Ireland to draft/acquire the players he needs for his system

Also if Aponte is made GM I will officially tender my Dolphins fan card and become a fan of the Jags

Tannehill is the problem, # 27 on YARDS/PA, only 6.66/ # 24 QBR only 81.7, what else can be said? with a superstar WR that get open on a weekly basis downfield for easy TD, of course, who draft him? who play him over Matt Moore who is a lot better than him? everyoone must be fired just for allow the insane GO / GO GO snapcount that all of then insist on not changing to cover their asses! is disgusting! plase Mr Ross, fire everyone!

Great Post, Mando.

Best post I read was a couple of days ago (meant to respond to it), a fan in his 60's, basically said he doesn't have too much longer to witness the team being good again.

I can really relate to that sentiment. I'm not that old, but it's been a LONG time since I've been able to feel proud about my team. I was hopeful last year when we got Tannehill, very excited in 2008, and then a long drought before that.

I wish fans like that gentleman could speak directly to Philbin (players probably hear it more around town). He needs to fully understand the plight of this particular fanbase. We're desperate. Whenever he's in his "not too down, not too up" mood, he needs to know how DOWN this fanbase is. And how long they've been this way. Maybe he'll adjust his attitude to compensate for that. Maybe he needs to be a little less reserved and more passionate on the outside to show a demoralized fanbase that he's here to turn things around. Don't know if it will definitely help, but I do know it wouldn't hurt.

Anyway, great post brother. I feel your pain.

The only team in the nfl who tips their hand on what's coming every play pre snap go-go go and a coach that reads victory speeches off cards where it should be pure emotion of the moment something is very very wrong here with these people

Hey Joe, Kevin, hello Mr. Ross. Hey, Jeff's here too what's up guys? Why did you call me in here on a Sunday when Mrs. Sherman is making me a home cooked meal, I thought we were off for a while?

Also, not to point out the obvious. But why did Ireland sign about 6 players yesterday if he was on the chopping block.

Common Sense. Would a guy that might get fired be allowed to sign 6 players on the day he was suppose to get fired.

Nothing is going to come of this. Dolphins have too many holes to fill in the offseason and will see similar results next year, especially with another Ireland draft on the way.

This team does not have an elite core to it. It doesn't have players that can get us over the top. It's filled with guys that could contribute to a winning team if that team had 4-5 other elite guys at critical spots. Unfortunately that's not the case, and apparently mediocrity is good enough for management.

At least we're not Jacksonville.

Every year that's the big thing. Dulphins have too many holes to fill. Obviously they are not doing that through the draft or fa so that means fu$king fire these fools running the show!

YOu know who else had a 6.7 YPA this year? Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan had 6.9 as did Tom Brady. Alexz Smith and Joe Flacco actually did worse at 6.5 and 6.4. yep, fire them all...

Posted by: Craig M | January 03, 2014 at 08:20 AM

Ross was a successful developer, not a captain of industry or leader of men. The skill set needed to make shrewd real estate decisions, is not the same needed to run a complex organization or lead people.

He has shown his lack of insight and foresight repeatedly, most recently his being caught flat footed by the collapse. His lack of a backup plan and his scrambling now to make changes, show him to be more reactionary than visionary.

I supplied them no running backs who could run, I supplied them no running backs who could block, I supplied them no offensive linemen who could block, I supplied them no tight ends who could block. I gave them no running game or pass blocking. Watch as I pin the struggles all on Sherman with a wave of my hand and a wink from my eye, no one will be able to decipher the lie! Alakazam, poof!

It's funny. Everyone would have rioted if the Dolphins drafted an Offensive Lineman again with their first pick last year, me included. "Not another o-lineman!" Now what is everyone saying? Wish we had some decent o-lineman to create some holes and protect our QB. It all starts and ends in the trenches, boys. Period. It's not the sexy pick, but thats what we need next year.


Is that why we had four guys make the Pro Bowl? Is that why Grimes was ranked as the number two CB in the league this year? Your logic doesn't make sense.

There's talent here, that part can't be denied. What I don't get is how the Bills beat us twice this year and the Jets made us look so bad in our own building to end the season. There's a disconnect there somewhere.

Andre Luck - 9 int / Tom Brady - 11 int / alex smith - 7 int /
Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco are NOT elite QB's anyway, I'm wondering how would be YPA on all this QB's that you mention if they have Wallace WIDEOPEN TWICE per game downfield?

Hey dolphin nation I see ver little hope for this team next year. All the talking heads tlk about is fixing the offensive line. I don,t hear anything about adding playmakers to an offense that avraged19 points this season. We scored 30 poits once this season and seven oints in the last 2 games. How bout drafting Jace Amaro with the first pick.

Ross' face looks like an anus with a hemorrhoid.

EVERYONE! please stop the non sense OL blaming, they could not do anything! defenses knew every play, Dolphins let then knew with the insane snapcount!

Tony Irvine,

That's PURE speculation on your part....you're actually making crap up! If the Dolphins had won their last two games you wouldn't have a leg to stand on. You telling me it was Ross' fault they lost the last two games? Because he's 'not a leader of men'? Total poppy-cock!!!

So i guess Ross was responsible for the wins against Indy, New England, SD and Cinci?

No one knows yet if he got it right on Philbin or not. That doesn't mean he's 'not a leader of men'. Total nonsense!! Should he have been ready to fire everyone when the team was 8-6 after beating New England with two games to go? 'Should have had a back-up plan'.....


Pick a card any card.
Ahhhh, I see you picked the offensive linemen card. Now put it back in the deck and I will tell you the number on the other side.
I'm seeing a five? No? Okay.
Is it a seven? No again, okay lets try...
Four? No,,,damnit,,,,TWO?! Come on it has to be two!
NO? It's one? How could it be one, I put dozens of offensive linemen cards in the deck for years, how do I always just pick the one?! So frustrating.


Schwartz coached Defense his whole career. He was a LB in College. He will be a better DC than Coyle. He comes from the J.Fisher Tree. Attacking 4-3 that occasionally plays Cover 2.

how could they run or protect the mediocre QB? football is based on surprise the defense, there is no team on any football league that can win lettting the defense know what they are doing, linebackers, CB's, safeties just need to hear a GO GO to just go straight to the running back, or a GO to blitz the mediocre QB, thats it, plain and simple...

Is it possible that this billionaire owner, Michigan State graduate and real estate lawyer gave up the ability to fire coaches on a contractual basis. So the Dolphins now have another dinosaur in Mike Sherman (fired from Texas A&M) running the Dolphins that can not be fired without Joe Philbins expressed permission. Much like Bill Parcells who contracted to not have anyone other than himself control football operations. Wow!

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