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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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My mistake. Not sure what. Made me think he was a OC at one time. I might be thinking of the other guy with the Titans who since passed away.

Throw Schwartz's name in the ring for DC.....

Sherman will be fired. Philibin and Ireland are here to stay as long as Ross is here. even if next 5 yrs are 8-8 they will not be fired!

I also wonder how cry baby Brady would have fared getting sacked 58 times? Or Peyton Manning who had 10 fumbles despite getting sacked only 18 times would've done?

Wilson also turned the ball over on a per attempt basiss more than Tannehill ... don't forget to include your fumbles!!

We can play this stats dance all day partner. you're dancing with the master...

Gogo. It is not just the snap count. Tanny has no deep touch. That cost us a couple wins and that can't be taught!

And if you are talking deep ball and Tom brady, sheesh, you know less than I gave you credit for.

If your comparing Brady to tanny u are a joke

Mark c'mon! please, do not dare to compare a Hall of fame, record breaking, 3 times Superbowl winner, MVP's with the piece of s.... of QB that we have, please...

Posted by: GOGO | January 03, 2014 at 12:59 PM

how does the snap count tell them the play?

of the 58 sacks, at least 30 are his fault for holding the football too long, and because of his snapcount.

"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."

Well that's cherry picking info if I've ever seen it.

Grimes was great. Wake was pretty good. They are both borderline elite, but they alone weren't good enough to make the defense even good. Strictly average against the pass and dismal against the run.

As for our offense, they had zero elite players in critical positions. Zero. Pouncey comes the closest, but realistically a center isn't going to win many games for you no matter how good they are. Hartline was consistent for the most part. Wallace had his moments. Elite was not to be found.

Nowhere did I compare Tannehill to Brady, i compared stats of the two qbs. Try to keep up.

wallyfin, im sorry I forgat that you just came back from the moon! no football there right?

It'd probably also help to get a couple running backs that don't fall down when the wind blows I swear I've never seen a back go down as easy as miller does show a little heart for god sakes

Mark, who play WR at NE this year? do you know what Brady & Manning, Luck could do with a wideopen Wallace twice per week? and Hartline? Wess Welker???? do you remember for example?


I don't know what you mean by 'elite' offensive players. People through that word around all the time and I don't know what it means. Do you have to have 'elite' offensive players on your offence to win? How many does KC have? Pretty good team, no? Cinci? Colts have how many ELITE players making the playoffs this year?

ELITE.....one of the most over-used words in Pro Sports. How many ELITE players did the Super Bowl Ravens have last year? Is Flacco ELITE? What happened to him this year? Did he stop eating his spinach?

Total nonsense!

Mark I saw no stats just ignorance!


The Pats were using a snap count where it was one head bob or 2 head bobs by the center. I understand what you are saying, just don't think the defense can decide that quickly when they here GO or GOGO. They have a defense called already.

the problem is we are easy to defend with Wallace pressed against the sideline and no one capable of blocking.

@ 1:16, yeah , responsible for 30, this has all the earmarks of a properly conducted stat and not something you pulled from your hindquarters.

let me tell you something here, one qb I thought Tannehill resembles in a lot of ways is Big Ben. Now Big ben played in similar conditions this year ... underperforming defense, unreliable running game, porous o line. Now Ben with his two SBs under his belt and tenure in the league managed to pull off a 92 Qb rating compared to Tannehill's 81.7. Sounds like a big difference, doesn't it? Both had to throw the ball almost the exact same ... Tannehill 36.8, Ben 36.5. Very comparable. You know what the total difference between 81.7 and 92 is over an entire season?

19 completions
211 yards
3 touchdowns
3 interceptions

There is your entire gulf of difference between these two guys.

Now go on and spew your uneducated hate. You don't think Tannehill can improve in his 3rd season by 200 yards over an entire year, 3 tds, and 3 fewer pics?

Consideer by how much he improved from season one to season two and re-think.

If Clay had caught one more TD pass this year he would have set a record for Dolphin TEs. Would that have made him ELITE? I have no clue what that word even means.

And RB that can't break a tackle.

Its all a moot point. Getting to the playoffs and getting bounced in the first round does not equate a successful season. If that is this organization's goal, then yes we are close. But we are no where close to being championship caliber.

Fact is the Dolphins improved over last season. Period...

Dolphins pasted the smell test, versus teams they normally lose to, and lost against inferior teams, typical of an up and coming teams. Two years into the new regime, and that regime has the team headed in the right direction. IMHO...

GM is the only link in the chain that Ross should reevaluate, Ireland went all out last Free Agency period and over paid for one more W in the win, loss column. Coach Philbin's draft philosophy is the proper approach to acquiring Championship talent. Free Agency is for rewarding talent already on the roster.

Die-Hard Dolphan from NJ. No fair-weatherness here.
I'm PRO Philbin and staff, only coach should make the changes he deem necessary to his staff.

Mark from Toronto,

Are you indicating through your stat. evaluations (turnovers) you would rather have T-hill at QB over Russell Wilson. You are not a master of anything on this site. You are entitled to your opinion but that's it.

Tannehill 36.8, Ben 36.5. Very comparable. You know what the total difference between 81.7 and 92 is over an entire season?

19 completions
211 yards
3 touchdowns
3 interceptions

There is your entire gulf of difference between these two guys.

Now go on and spew your uneducated hate. You don't think Tannehill can improve in his 3rd season by 200 yards over an entire year, 3 tds, and 3 fewer pics?

Consideer by how much he improved from season one to season two and re-think.

Posted by: Mark in Toronto | January 03, 2014 at 01:28 PM


Jeff Ireland has publicly said 'this team's goal is to make the playoffs' every year. I have a problem with that. The goal shpuld be to win the Super Bowl every year. I don't consider just making the playoffs to be a successful season. I agree with you. Its part of the problem in Dolphin-land.

Craig, to me elite ( as far as qbs) means your team is afactor no matter what the supporting cast is or at least overcome serious deficiencies in your cast.

This year we learned that Flacco, Eli, Ben are not elite. One can make a great argument that brady is not elite anymore. I mean when someone starts the argument .. do you know who he was throwing to this year? Automatically ...not elite. there are only three guys that are elite ... peyton, Brees, and Rodgers.

That's it, everyone else needs a certain degree of help to make their teams relevant. yet many of our fans spew at our Qb because after year two he is not Peyton, Rodgers, or Brees ... although even neither of those three guys were either.

When you rank in the 20s in two or more significant team categories... your team is not a playoff team, bottom line. yet a lot of these posters cry we do not have one of those three guys although there are only three of those guys walking the planet ... period.

Ross still cant make a decision? LMAO!

Big Ben vs tanny. U r a joke. When Wallace was on Pitt and beat his man deep it was a td and a game changer. Tanny can't do that. Big difference! U must be an accountant and can't see beyond numbers.

Mark, what are the Tannehill so called improvements? he has 700 more yards with 80 more passing attempts and one more game played (last year was benched on 1st play against the Jets) he also has 4 more Interceptions this year, and he has more talent around this year, he lost his last 2 games when he need one to go to the playoffs scoring only 1 TD? he also has better QB Total Rating last season and only 1 more win, is that what you call improvement? I hear the same excuses over and over with Henne.

If this is really what the "He Said / He Said" arguments of these two departments was like, I think the case was just made that neither of them should be getting another shot next year.

Mark from Toronto = Village Idiot

@1.35 exactly! agree...

MIT @ 1:28

Agreed both QBs had similar season and got similar results both 8-8.

You could also say that Henne started 29 games in Mia and went 14-15. Tanne started 32 games and went 15-17, but Tanne had better personnel and coaching.

The only good thing that could come out of Ross not firing this staff, Ireland included, means that I won't waste one second of my remaining life in May watching the NFL draft, and I won't lose another 60+ hours of my life watching my TV next year on Sundays or whenever the Phins play.

If Ross keeps this circus intact, then I will work on getting my guitar chops into smoking shape and work on getting my band to play Gilbert's Marina on Sundays instead of sitting on the couch in front of my TV.

Sorry Mark i hate the guy but Brady is one of the 4 Elite QB's.

No no, don't draw conclusions from me making an entirely different point, promichael.

I just pointed that out because some people will say Tannehill turned over the ball too much (which he did but not by a great deal) he is not a good qb and should be thrown out.

However, it is statistically proven that a young qb will turn the ball over, especially if he is askedd to throw more than the average and especially if there is not enough balance to the offense between run/ pass.

This year, the average turnover per attempt ratio in the NFL was 4.2%. Tannehill was slightly over that at 4.4%. Not a reason to throw him out. The point I made is that there are more heralded Qbs who had comparable or higher turnover per attempt marks in the NFL. Wilson is simplay one of them (4.7%). Other include Stafford (4.9%), Palmer (4.9%), Cutler (4.8% and just signed one of the richest deals in the NFL), RG3 (5.0%), and Flacco at (4.9%).

I think it's more important that Tannehill showed that he can bring production from the position. he was 12th amongst NFl qbs in touchdowns this year and 10th in total yards. He showed he can play.

Stay the course. Change wouldn't be prudent at this juncture...

Can someone please shove a kock in Craig M mouth?

did I miss anything since yesterday?? don't answer, it was retorical

Posted by: GOGO | January 03, 2014 at 01:36 PM

GOGO< what kind of TV do you have? T-hill was injured not benched last year.

That's right they don't have TV where you live.


Give every QB a chance to play 16 games for the 2013 Broncos and make every QB play 16 games for the 2013 Jags and then compare them and I expect that all the QBs in the league would be statistically equal to each other.


wally, yeah Brady may still be elite but he definitely did slip this year. Is it an indication of age catching up? We will find out very soon ... within a year I would say. I don't have a real problem with Brady being considered one of the special ones still. Just said you can make an argument based on results this year.

Exposing the Fraud,

Actually, Sparano kills Henne development with the Wildcat, Henne have better arm, touch, deepball than his cousing Tanne.

Steve and gogo, your counter arguments are very well written and thought out ... thanks for engaging me.

Proved that both of you .. or the same person are mental midgets. Thanks for showing that to everyone else too.

Tannehill 36.8, Ben 36.5. Very comparable. You know what the total difference between 81.7 and 92 is over an entire season?

19 completions
211 yards
3 touchdowns
3 interceptions

There is your entire gulf of difference between these two guys.

Now go on and spew your uneducated hate. You don't think Tannehill can improve in his 3rd season by 200 yards over an entire year, 3 tds, and 3 fewer pics?

Consideer by how much he improved from season one to season two and re-think.

Posted by: Mark in Toronto | January 03, 2014 at 01:28 PM

Tannehill over or underthrew Wallace at least 10 times, and that's calculating on the conservative end f the spectrum. Let's say Tannehill connects on at least 5 of those throw averaging 45yds per td catch:


5 tds 225yds. This would exceed Ben's rating.

You can also flip this scenario and the gulf widens even more in Ben's favor. If Ben still had Wallace, he probably hits those 5tds in this calculation to Wallace, Tannehill misses.

Crazy thing about "what if" comparisons, they can also become "double-edged swords. All depends on what information it's user decides to in or exclude.

So, the best stat will always be wins and losses. In this stat Big Ben and Tannehill indeed are "dead even". Both lead their teams to 8-8 and "sitting on the couch" playoff position.

Mark needs one too!!


QBR attempts to measure the quality of QB play in critical situations. But for teams with a lousy defense, that gets blown out all the time, after the 1st half there are no meaningful plays. Teams with the best defense have the best and/or very high powered offenses have the highest QBR.

Has Ireland, Sherman, coyle, & QB coach been fired yet?!?!? Mando, what's the scoop snoop?!?!?!

Mark, I have a 70" Sony Bravia LED 3D Smart TV, anyway:

definition of benched: to seat on a bench.

he was benched because of an injury.

Posted by: Mark in Toronto | January 03, 2014 at 01:41 PM

good post Mark.

and let's hope age catches Brady soon. I think when Brady goes, Bellecheat will follow. He won't start over with a new QB.

Mark is a pathetic Tannehill homer like he was with Henne. Gogo brings out facts and Mark has nothinf to counter with it jist calls himself a'master' GTFOH!

I guess when Tannehill's TDs go from 13 to 24, that's not progress either, right?

Hate Tannehill if you must guys but at least have FACTS to back up your points


If a QB produces the go-ahead drive in the 4th qtr AND the defense holds the lead then the QB is a hero.

If a QB produces the go-ahead drive in the 4th qtr and then the Defense turns around and gives the lead right back then the QB is bum.

Ben had Wallace last year and had 100 fewer yards out of him so i don't know where you are going with this. Let's please stop talking in subjectives and only in what is in the real world.

Brady is first ballot hall of fame good gawd.

THill flat out choked the last 2 games.... 0 sacks against the Jets and ole boy TCrap puts up 7 lovely poibts... He suck!

GOGO, I have a 55 Samsung msyelf, not as big but big enough,. I never asked you. i dodn't even know what the relative merit is to the conversation....

THil needs to be replace but so does OL, Sherman, and Coyle

There isnt a coach in the universe that could survive when Ireland supplies near zero talent from the drafts.

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