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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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It's your folly to write off a Qb after two years... not a smart thing to do when he shows significant improvement. Then again, you just chime in under different sign in names anyway...

Sam, that's exactly right @ 2:33

Posted by: Mark in Toronto | January 03, 2014 at 02:45 PM

Even better, in 2013, Tannehill was called upon to throw the football 8 more time per game and increased his td numbers while raising his int % by ZERO!

Dolfan Rick,

In my opinion they are not working together because Ross wants someone's job for the horrific last two games. I agree that appointing a Czar would work to take away Ireland's inept decision making and power. We would have to read the stipulations and legal language of what Ross gave Philbin which empowered the HC with regard to coaches on his staff.

I don't know if they give All-Pro for long snappers but John Denney is the best of those I've ever seen.

Posted by: oscar canosa | January 03, 2014 at 02:14 PM
Oscar,and this is why the defence is breathless in the 4th Q Eh?

Sam, you see what I'm seeing....

There are no changes going to be made. The owner is a billionare not a football man.

To all the Tannehill bashers out there or guys who want another QB. Who is your choice to lead this team next year. Who do we get. Is Matt moore the answer. I seen him cause a pile of turnovers in the preseason and more turnovers in the regular season. Is pat Devlin our guy to lead to the promise land?. If he was then i gotta think he would be playing, let alone drafted.

You say the draft?. Ok so now were starting over at that position, where it generally takes 3 years to figure out the defenses in the NFL. Very rarely does a QB come out of the gates and put it all together.

You guys will say well luck and RG3 and russell wilson. Well luck has had his ups and downs, RG3 regressed from his rookie year when the league caught up to the read option. Even russell wilson had a worse year this year than last.

Also were forgetting the supporting casts these guys had around them as rookies. As a QB i'd love to have the seattle defense and running game. Something the dolphins wouldnt know about.

So who we drafting?. Manziel?.

Today I was challenging myself with trying to find some sort of shred of logic behind Ireland not being fired...
While there is no actual way to defend Ireland, and the idea of him returning literally makes me both infuriated and sick to my stomach, there is one way that you can spin it if you are Ross.

The only way you can spin it so it makes a shred of sense is to say this is a .500 team. By very definition they are average. So as poor as Ireland has been, he's at least found a way to field a competitive team, which is more than you can say about some Franchises. Basically, they aren't where they want to be...but you can do worse.

From there, In today's NFL there is more-or-less a holy trinity within successful organizations - Which consist of the GM, the head coach and the Quarterback. If you are operating at a high level in those three areas chances are you are a Super Bowl contender. It may be beyond dysfunctional to retain Ireland, but with Ross (seemingly) fully behind the other two parts of that equation it's also at least a bit dysfunctional to fire the GM, and then hire a new guy and force a head coach and QB onto them. 3rd year is often the sink-or-swim year for HC's and QB's, so it makes sense to back those two and Ross could spin it as, they are either succeeding together or everyone is gone, everything's getting rebooted all at once.

Again, I'd love for the team to get rid of Ireland and bring in a real talent evaluator to hopefully allow Tannehill and Philbin to succeed next year, but that's what I could come up with when trying to think of any logical explanation (even if it's one I don't agree with).


Why have a czar when you have a gm, and why have a gm when you have a czar?

If you have a car, he needs know football and talent evaluation as well or better than the gm. If the czar is this smart, then he's virtually a gm anyway.

Having a czar and a gm, only amounts to having "too many cooks in the kitchen" trying to flip one egg.

1 TD In 2 games.19-0,,,20-7... If you STUPID HOMERS Want this then you are all hopeless,i don't want this pasty faced PUNK who SUCKS On the team I root for Eh?

Dolfan29 thats the issue we'll be stuck in mediocracy until we land a stud QB...

Sam, you see what I'm seeing....

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

As I said in a prior post, Tannehill needs his greatest improvement in areas the number do not really tally. Connecting on at least 2/3 of the Wallace deep throws and improved pocket presence.

Other than this, it's on the architects of this offense and personnel to improve the talent around him. Mainly oline, better run blocking and pass protect, and greater consistency at rb.


How can you say whether Tannehill could be that stud QB?. You have given him two years. He came out of college with 19 starts. Hes improved in this offense from year one to year two. Its a progression. You draft a guy now and your waiting another 3 years atleast for that QB and even then there is no guarantee hes a stud QB

Lets look at what makes a stud QB. A manning, Brees, Brady or rodgers i suppose. Well that is only 4 guys out of the hundreds that play the position outside the NFL.

Whether RT becomes a stud at the position still remains to be seen. However i dont think two years is a fair assessment. Most NFL experts will cite 3 years is the benchmark for evaluating.

Mike Sherman gradually lost conidence in Tannehill when he didnt show any improvement in year 2.

Posted by: Ape Tamer | January 03, 2014 at 03:10 PM

It's a very tough call on evaluating a qb when everything around him also fails. The final 2 gms from Tannehill were far from sterling, but, was everything else around him.

The offense was bumfucked by committee. There was enough blame to be spread everywhere.

Sam, you do know that the league average for connecting on long passes is somewhere around 40% right? If he could connect on 67, we may be talking MVp, it's a bit unrealistic.

so was

Pretty much it will be new OC and new DC and their new assistants. If Philbin doesn't like it he can vote with his feet. Status quo will not work here.

MIT, my bad, typo. I meant 1/3(33%).


to add to my prior comment. This team escapes mediocrity when the coaches and GM decide to build a solid running game and offensive line for this team.

As i see it the coaching is sub par and just not a fit for the players we have

So, the question at RB will be Ben Tate in FA or draft a kid. I don't see us getting the Ohio St. kid in the 1st round (that would be dumb IMO, not a good 1st round position to draft unless you're getting Adrian Peterson). So who else can we get later (that can develop into a hidden gem like Alfred Morris)?

The Czar that I envision is one that has complete authority over Philbin, Ireland and even Ross. Only way to get out of this mess.

Jaguars To Let Jones-Drew Test Market

Maybe management can set up a bakery at both endzones of the stadium. I bet our oline would block their as$#s off to make it to the endzone then

There is no better option than Tannehill for this team.

There is no one better than Tannehill in free agency. Cutler got paid an insane 18 mil a year.

That leaves trade a bunch of picks for a Johnny Football or Blake Bortles. Tannehill gets a third year like it or not since there is no better option.

I think he can make a jump forward in year 3, but if he doesn't it will be time to start over again.

Same old BS from the owner , lets get together have meeting about what should happen , and than NOT DO ANYTHING , this is complete BS... There needs to be MASSIVE changes , can we really go on like this.....

NO SUPER BOWL WIN since 1973 , need I say more.

Kubiak new OC.

DC, I'm loving me some Ben Tate and Branden Albert ... let's go!!

Next year Tannehill will be the most improved QB in the NFL...

Did anyone see the Alabama left tackle yesterday? Definitely a no from me on taking him in the first round.

Its nice to see others notice Ben Tate as a free agent priority!
He could really take pressure off tannehill.
Plus that would make us one step closer to having a stud offense next season!

Nah, I'd rather go after Manziel.

NeMo, I do agree with that. I think this year, the qb proved he can be mid tier but as we know it's difficult to win with a mid tier Qb ... especially with our drafting and coaching history. Tannehill has to push top ten status next year... ma be as simple as producing as many yards and TDs as he did this year but with fewer attempts and slightly fewer turnovers.

The Czar that I envision is one that has complete authority over Philbin, Ireland and even Ross. Only way to get out of this mess.

Posted by: oscar canosa | January 03, 2014 at 03:28 PM

Hope your czar also has a billion $'s. He'll need it to be new owner of the team. Only way an owner appoints someone over himself is when "he sells the team".

32 NFL teams, zero czars with more power than the owner. Enough said.

I would guarantee Manziel doesn't do as well next year as Tannehill did this year.

Ross wants a head on a platter, expect Shermans. The only unknown is will Philbin allow him to be the sacrificial lamb. Then will Ross fire the HC? Ireland isn't going anywhere! (un for TUNA tely.

No, no, Sam, there are other ways than $$$. You have to realize that Most are still very primitive People and need some guidance. Look at yourself, you are being guided and still don't know it.

Yes Mark, I think a better O-line and running game would help out a lot.

Trolls want Tannehill replaced, but there is no better alternative.

Did anyone see the Alabama left tackle yesterday? Definitely a no from me on taking him in the first round.
Posted by: NeMo | January 03, 2014 at 03:33 PM


Thats hilarious NeMo. After the first half there were some posters on here last night saying just the opposite and how he should be our 1st pick. What a difference a half makes huh.

All you guys that want Manziel. Did you also want Gino Toretta, or ken dorsey or maybe charlie ward when these entered the NFL. What did they end up doing?. Maybe we can reinvent ryan leaf or akili smith. Oh i know. Is Tim couch still around some where

NeMo, no there isn't. Can anyone say that Cutler had a definitively better year than Tannehill this year and he's like a 6,7 year pro or whatever it is. Also Cutler had a top ten o line, pro bowl rbs and two wrs, and TE. And still 8-8 and unlike the mirage some people have here with Matt Moore, his backup did indeed play better than him when inserted. And he's costing $18M per year - that would be your best bet for improvement and it's not much of one.

Qbs are hard to ocme by - despite Tannehill's warts, he is the best alternative like you say.

If Mr.Ross still thinks Ireland is the best GM send him this link below!


Dolfan510, Really Gibson needs a pay cut for being a clutch WR until he got injured. Do you even watch the games?

Yeah let's start completely over again. Then all the haters will have something to bitch about for another 5 years. Fire Ireland & Sherman they suck, but 2 years is not enough time for a new staff. If they can't get us to the playoffs after 3 years then can them all.

Giving up on RT after 2 years is flat out stupid. How did RG3 do this year, or Newton in year 2? That's what I thought, crying just to cry. Mommy didn't coddle you all enough or are you just cry babies still?

Dolfan Rick, I saw most of the game off and on. He allowed at least 2 sacks and he didn't have good punch or hand position on 1 of them they gave a close replay of.

This is all obviously coming from my amateur eyes. Just my 2 cents. Obviously this could all change after the combine or something.

I disagree with your statement @ 2:30. The defense can audible and change the set play based on Go or Go-Go. For example, a blitzer can elect to not blitz and instead can run defend. This blunder is on coaching. The staff needs to take the training wheels off of T-hill.

DC, I'm loving me some Ben Tate and Branden Albert ... let's go!!

Posted by: Mark in Toronto | January 03, 2014 at 03:31 PM

100% Agree!

Then draft:

Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State
Height: 6-4. Weight: 340.
Projected 40 Time: 5.33.
Projected Round (2014): 1-2.

1st rd

If Danny Watkins could beat out John Jerry in 2014 in addition to these things. The pass protection, run blocking, and rb position could be greatly improved in 2014.

I would also expect Tannehill's number to greatly improve over 2013's also.

Mark, so if we did Albert and Tate, do we go G or T in the 1st round still? Can we find a starter at 19?

Did anyone see the Alabama left tackle yesterday? Definitely a no from me on taking him in the first round.

Posted by: NeMo | January 03, 2014 at 03:33 PM

Yeah, and that SPEED RUSHER for Oklahoma completely ate his lunch! Forget his name, but that guy was outstanding!

lol. You guys are talking about getting brandon Albert now. We had our chance at him last year and didnt grab him. You really think this staff will now change their view on him and do a deal.

From alberts view. He knew the Dolphins were the teams he would most likely be shipped to and the Dolphins backed out of the deal. Not exactly a team rolling out the welcome mat

Sam I Am, can that kid run block? We don't need another Jerry.

Erik Striker is his name. He's a sophomore, too bad. Was sensational against Bama.

Sherman is running the team? if this report is accurate then I will start calling for Philbins head as well as Irelands...

Great to see Sam I am actually defending Tannehill. The post with all the improved stats 2012 over 2013 was fantastic. Those stats were MIT like!!
What I don't get is why anybody would debate about Tannnehill with bloggers that change there names so often....its obvious to me, upon reading the post, that it is Marco posting under those names. I gues he knows that MIT, Craig and Sam are onto his schtick ad will not "entertain" him anymore.

BTW this retirement thing sucks.....its not going to last past next week!!

Respect your opinion sam i am.
However i would draft zach martin with our pick(sorry im hooked on this kid)
At least we can agree we need offensive linemen
One question what number is our second round pick?

Umm I'm no billionaire business man but if this is the case and your personnel dept and coaching dept have two different stories and are pointing fingers at each other and are not on the same page well that's a poorly run business, you need to clean house and start over with everybody on the same page that's the only way to start turning things around and quit looking like a dumpster fire

What about the kid from Baylor (Cyril Richardson)? Also a massive human being. I think he's better in the run game, what say you?

Sam and dc, glad you asked me this question close together ... Gabe Jackson, I could hope/pray we could get a guy like him in the 2nd round if not then I would see if there's a similarly ranked G in round two or go in a completely different direction and draft FSU WR Kelvin benjamin.

In round one, I would go either Cameron Erving or Richardson from Auburn for RT or someone like an Eric Ebron.

As you can see my goal would be to get two of a big target, OT, and OG.

Of course I'm hoping/assuming the coaching staff can actually get these guys on the field in year one ... big assumption.

We can find a starter on O line at 19 if it's a RT ... I think an OT with the skills of an Albert is almost crucial in free agency ... I don't think an OT starter at 19 at LT is going to do any good at all...

D29, I don't think they had a problem with Albert himself but the Chiefs asking price. This year, won't cost any picks, complete different scenario in my opinion. Rumour is the dolphins already had financial terms worked out with Albert but were working on the parameters of a trade. Of course this was sqaushed by all parties involved but do you expect them to say any different? I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case.

Sam I Am, can that kid run block? We don't need another Jerry.

Posted by: DC Dolfan | January 03, 2014 at 03:53 PM

Danny Watkins is a mystery to everyone dolfan. He's a former #1 pick, if he can not beat out Jerry in 2014,may as well throw him back on the scrap heap.

He's listed behind Jerry at RG on the depth chart. If he can turn around his career and live up to projected expectations coming into the league as a #1 draft pick. We have ourselves quite a find.

If not, time to cut bait.

My pick at #19 would be Jake Matthews if he falls to us or Taylor Lewan.....Lewan should be there!!

So many questioning Tannehill and his ability. That would be completely unfair to do so. Even I question his deep ball ability but we have to remember it was poor coaching that is the reason. We had a decent running game a couple of times but that was abandoned. Establishing a running game early in the season would have taken care of the QB pressure issues, open up play action etc.etc.etc. Developing a chemistry between Wallace and Tannehill would take practice, was that issue addressed? Before every game the game plan is practiced and if there were questionable low percentage plays they should have been replaced by other plays. All in all poor coaching. The GM should be the one to have regular meetings about personnel issues with the HC. Did Ireland approach Philbin and find out why was there no running game being established. It would have been for Philbins to ask for a Full Back to improve the running game. A complete overhaul is needed. Players are good when coaching is good.

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