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The three structure possibilities for the Dolphins

When it comes to the Dolphins search to replace Jeff Ireland the "what" is initially more important than the "who."

I don't mean to diminish the identity of the person who will fill the job. The "who" is important. But what job is that person going to be doing? What role will that person have within the Dolphins football structure? Most importantly, what kind of power will that person have?

Once owner Stephen Ross, who plans to speak to the media at some point soon, makes clear what his vision for the job is, then we'll know who is best suited for the job.

Ross and the Dolphins have really only three choices for that open role because they have three directions they can go in establishing their club structure. Those are:

The strong general manager, the weak general manager and the talent evaluator. Allow me to show you what each role entails ...

The strong general manager: This person is hired with the autonomy (power) to make multiple key decisions. He can bring in his own personnel staff, including assistants and scouts. He does not answer to anyone else in the organization other than owner Stephen Ross. And he has the power to fire coach Joe Philbin -- if not immediately, then after one year of evaluation. 

I'm not a big fan of what Ross has done the last two change cycles he's put the Dolphins through. He fired Tony Sparano in 2011 but kept general manager Jeff Ireland. That forced him to miss out on proven coaches, including Jeff Fisher, because they wanted to bring their own GM they were comfortable working with them. This year, he fired Ireland but kept coach Joe Philbin. So, once again, it is possible Ross will miss out on the best or most proven strong GM candidates because they might like the option of hiring their own coach to work with.

Instead of sprinting into organizational changes the Dolphins have had to limp on one leg because Ross handicaps the process by limiting his field of interested candidates. Oh, the list of candidates may not seem limited initially, particularly in the GM search, because no one comes in with demands of full autonomy. But once the Dolphins show interest in a particular outstanding candidate, he might back out if he demands full autonomy and Ross isn't able to grant it.

The weak general manager: This person is titled as the GM but his power is limited. He may have final say over personnel in the draft and free agency but that is probably limited to him needing a consensus with his coaches, particularly Philbin. He has no authority over Philbin or executive vice president of football administration Dawn Aponte and therefore cannot keep or get rid of either one -- regardless of whether he'd like to do that upon his hiring or after one year. He probably wouldn't answer to either of them but instead answer directly to Ross just like they do.

Under this structure, Ross would have the weak GM running personnel and answering only to him. Philbin runs the coaching staff and answers only to him. And Aponte runs the remaining portion of football administration -- the player budgeting, contract negotiations, league matters, other legal matters like getting Richie Incognito off after he assaults a female golf course volunteer during a team event ... and the always important editing of the winning locker room video with the hopes of hiding the fact Philbin was reading from an index card.

(Not kidding).

I'd say the Dolphins had a weak general manager in Ireland. He didn't have the ability to hire or fire either Philbin or Aponte -- and that was proven when he unsuccessfully tried to have Aponte fired in 2012. But even Ireland had more power than probably an incoming weak GM would have in that he made the final call on not only the draft and free agency, but also the roster. I would not be suprised if Philbin gets final call on the roster going forward.

The talent evaluator: This person may or may not carry the title of general manager but it would be something of a misnomer. He'd be a glorified scout. He'd be only a talent evaluator and that's what I'm calling him going forward. He'd lead the setting up of the draft board. He'd make suggestions of which players to draft and which free agents to sign or discard. But he would have no final say on, well, anything. He wouldn't have the overriding final call on pulling the draft-day trigger. He wouldn't have the ability to hire or fire anyone, least of all DawnJoe. He'd have to get consensus to do practically everything outside of giving his opinion on talent.

In this scenario, the Dolphins might have Aponte as the GM with the ability to hire and fire this talent evaluator. Or they'd possibly have a football czar -- someone like Carl Peterson or Eric Mangini -- over the organization. Philbin, Aponte and the talent evaluator would be under the football czar who would be under Ross. Current assistant GM Brian Gaine has been mentioned as an internal candidate for the open position. He'd be a fit in this talent evaluator job.

By the way, if this is the one that is actually open, the Dolphins will have a difficult time attracting top-flight talent. The best and brightest simply want more power than this neutered version of a sort-of GM.

So which of these jobs is the one that should be open? I have an opinion. But as I've already thrown 935 words at you, I'll leave that for another post. 



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Dashi, I wrote in my entry Super Bowls win OR PARTICIPATE in...

being angry and miserable to everybody. That's all I'm saying

Posted by: Chance McGillicuddy | January 09, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Hahahaha yep, okay. Stick around a bit (wink wink) and you will see exactly who I am nasty with. I'll give you a hint, it's not anyone that is here to have rationale and objective discussions about the Miami Dolphins.

If you want me to be nice to troublemakers and losers with nothing better to do than to hang out in random blogs and make fun of fans don't hold your breath.

Whatever you guys think just dont take in account what Dashi thinks he by far the worst poster in the board. His recommandations

Get rid of Dansby and Burnet
Get rid of Bush
Philbin a heck of a coach
Ireland isnt that bad
Fins will win 11 games
Tannehill is a franchise QB
Lamar Miller is a stud
Glad Jake Long gone etc

Has there been any poster as wrong as he is??

Well, at this point it's obvious that the biggest problem with this organization is Steve Ross. I know nothing about the man's business past, but he's a billionaire so he obviously made some strong, tough decisions. But his handling of this franchise has been nothing but passive, naive, short-sighted and timid from the moment he took over. Half-measure after half-measure after half-measure have made the Dolphins the fractured embarrassment they are today. And it doesn't seem as though he's learned from his mistakes. And if it's true that he's handed power over to Philbin and Aponte, and only wants to bring in a glorified scout as GM, then thing are going to get much, much worse before they get better. It's his franchise and ultimately he can and will do what he wants, but he is running the organization further into the ground than it was when he got here.

bloggers on a fan site.

Fu$#ing priceless.

Posted by: Phins78 | January 09, 2014 at 09:53 AM
wife beats him folks
this is y he is this way to total strangers

...This has nothing to do with this post. But!

It drives me up the wall when "football experts" call the zone read the read option..

Read option is the same freekin thing. It is redundant. I wish there was a buzzer that went off that exploded these guys when they use this term. What do you think you are doing when you are running an option? Making a read! Drives me nuts


Okay..here is my assessment....

1) A "personnel director" or "czar"...like a CEO will be hired..someone close to Ross whom he trusts....someone known in football circles... if he says it , Ross does it..

2)The "GM" will be a talent evaluator with NFL experience and a proven team player.....

3) The OC will be someone who can assimilate the West Coast Offense, and has previous HC or assistant HC experience....if Philbin proves a failure, the OC will be next HC

4) The O-Line Coach, QB Coach an Asst. QB Coach will be replaced ... the new OC will play apart in who is hired...the new QB Coach will be someone with NFL experience to work closely with T-Hill to improve his weak areas...

5) Philbin will remain HC...Ross likes him, Aponte has his confidence, but if he doesn't produce a playoff team next season, he will be history....

Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher are rumored to have interest in coaching again next year.

Posted by: Phins78 | January 09, 2014 at 10:21 AM


No, they're not. And both are retreads.

Every coach wins in Pittsburgh because of the stable situation there (exactly what fans in Miami do NOT want) and Gruden left the Bucs in total shambles when he was canned there.

Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher are rumored to have interest in coaching again next year.

Posted by: Phins78 | January 09, 2014 at 10:21 AM


No, they're not. And both are retreads.

Every coach wins in Pittsburgh because of the stable situation there (exactly what fans in Miami do NOT want) and Gruden left the Bucs in total shambles when he was canned there.

Dashi has by far the worst football knowledgr EVER! Hes wrong about EVERYTHING!

Dashi @ 10:11. I want one guy responsible. Who makes the draft decisions in your scenario? The coaching decisions, the free agency decisions? I don't want it to be convoluted.

Hi Twinks!

have a HAARPy day !

Agree with oldschoolfinfan on Philbin. The man is married to the intermediate passing game. More than 30 points in ONE game all season and he's supposed to be an offensive guy. I don't even think Philbin has any business being an OC. He is absolutely petrified of losing, which is why he's satisfied with an 8-8 record. Dolphins not going anywhere with Mr. Vanilla at the helm.

The Strong is REQUIRED. Anything else is a half measure accepting the mediocraty and disfunction that got the Phins in this mess. No more help from the NY Jets failed system either. And please Aponte take the NFL job Now!


Joe Philbin has done NOTHING to earn the right to have ultimate power. NOTHING! He didn't even call the plays in Green Bay. I think this is shaping up to be a disaster. What we've got here is an owner who's a very big Joe Philbin fan. He hired him. The owner is going to do everything in his power to protect him. And I'm saying why? Good guy? Great. Well organized? Great. But he's never been responsible for a team winning. So we're going all in on this guy?

This has all the markings of a 4-12 season down the road, when the time finally wisened up and fired Wannstedt.

@ Craig...Philbin has a one season pass from Ross, and he knows it..

.....it probably went something like this..." Joe, I like you, I admire your workmanship. Ireland is out of the way. You have another year, but if you don't produce better than this year, we're going to have to part ways.." PERIOD .

How do you ". . .diminish the identity of the person who will fill the job." Perhaps you meant "diminish the importance."

..Not interested.

How can you say the fans in Miami do not want stability? I think most fans her would love to have some stability. But unlike the Steelers. Look at the guys who have owned this team, then look at the Rooneys. It is a sham here. I would go as far as to say that ownership is a factor I failed to include when I listed the 3 areas you have to be strong to win. I should have included owner, and it should have read 4.

We are weak at owner as well.So we have no stability. what is the Dolphin way? What defines this franchise? The definitions are not flattering. We all want stability. Keeping the wrong people doesn't equal stability.


Great point. I wasn't for getting my motivation from my coach. Self-motivated. Wanting to be the best in the game should be motivation enough. Every game you should want to have a good game for you and your team. Coaches are there to teach and to manage the game.The Will to be Great you either have it or you don't. Some people call it a "Motor" I call it the will to win. Guys that have a will to win go all out on every play without the coach telling them to play hard.

I also agree that having leaders on your team helps keep everyone motivated. They force other players to compete just as hard as them.

Is John Harbaugh a great motivator, Or was Ray's will to win on the field more motivation to win? Flacco can talk all the BS he wants, Ray might've rambled on with his speeches but the players would give their all for their leader. The Ravens didn't have that championship heart this year.

Brady, Can't stand the guy. But very few can compete like him.

Our run defense suffered because Soliai and Starks didn't play motivated. Yeah, they had good individual season's but you can tell they were just going through the motions.


I guess I kind of sort of agree with your evaluation. Certainly on the GM. I think Tanny and Philbin both fall in the category of incomplete at the moment though.

I would have to say if it were my call and what I thought was the right candidate was available I would problably make the coaching change.

At QB I probably would find some insurance in the form of another young guy but I truthfully would be counting on Tannehill being the guy.

Philbin is really an odd duck to read. While you can say he did a great job of not losing the team during the bullygate garbage, you can also say he lost the team the last two games when it really mattered.

So for me personally I'm going give him the benefit of the doubt because of spotty o-line play coupled with the fact that the replacement options don't rock my world.

I do think Home's theory of Marino GM and Mike Shula HC is interesting because that's basically what the Bucs are doing with Lovie Smith and his staff of Dungy disciples.

It depends on how much your wanting to brings fans back or win football games. Smith also has a decent record has a HC and Shula is an unknown.

The guy to hire is Pioli. Put some good teams together in New England and KC. Yes the team in KC finished 2-14 last year but that was largely on Haley and the mistake of adding Cassel at QB. The talent level was good, as evidenced by the number of Pro Bowlers last year and their 11-5 record this year.

Pioli is a bit of a strange duck but who cares. He'll be motivated to beat New England and he'll be looking to improve the perception of him from his time in KC. He's always been a good talent evaluator, as evidenced by the drop off in drafts since he left New England. I'd hire this guy and let him decide Philbin's fate. I doubt Ross will do this.



'Starks and Soliai were both going through the motions this year'? In a CONTRACT year? Don't think so. Soliai was dealing with an injury most of the year. Starks may have been upset that he didn't get a long term contract.they weren't the reason the run defence was crap!


You and me both. Read-Option is an Oxymoron. All Options are read options.

The term should be Spread-Option. Urban Meyer was one of the first to run this system in college. It was called Spread-Option because they took the College Spread Offense and added the option to it.


Please reread my post. At no point did I say that Philbin should have final say.

...Dolfan Rick. Personally. I do not want Dan Marino anywhere near this team in an executive role. He is an all time great. He is a Heirloom gem this team should always recognize. But to me that is where it ends.

I think people see Elway in Denver, and equate that success to Marino here. If it worked for Denver with their hero. Why wouldn't it work here. Well 1 of the guys is extremely intelligent. Stanford Educated. Another..Not so much. Listen to the two men speak. And one belongs on TV, on in an excutive role.

Marino is great as a guy who represents the club as an all time great. He is better off voicing opinion, showing up a golf outings, perhaps a fishing tourney. but as far as personnel..I would stay far away.

BTW...I don't believe the GM should decide any Coaches fate..

..I think the GM evaluates and acquires talent with the assistance of the Cap Person (Aponte)

...I think the President of Ops, CEO, Czar...whatever label you give it, along with the ownership, decides whether the Coach did an acceptable, outstanding, sup-par etc job with the talent he was provided..

...but the GM , in its traditional function, should NOT make decisions on who the coaches are....

...this way there is a delineation of responsibility, controlled by the CEO, who is the final link to the owner...

Posted by: Dashi | January 09, 2014 at 10:45 AM

Dashi, good points- I think we're on the same page here...

Leadership on the team is as, or more important than coaching leadership. Same as in the military. You fight for and protect the guys beside you, not the clean, dry Generals at command.


Like you I'm here, always have been. Like a GHOST...


In my scenario. One person has final say, C.Peterson. But all decisions will be a team effort. I see no reason why a coach and GM shouldn't have say in making personnel decisions. Just not Final Say.

The President creates the vision for his team. He hires a Coach that wants to run the kind of system he wants. The GM shops for players that fit the system. And Dawn handles all contracts.

Even Ross figured it out a GM can't have to much power.


I generally enjoy your posts, but this feels like another gossip mag-blog article in a series of many. I do like how you've got the 3 different options listed, just don't like some of the snark attached with them.

Having said that, the best option is one that has the power that every GM has grown accustomed to with the exception of immediately firing Philbin. Therefore, if the plan is to retain Philbin (and I hope that it is) then he should have some involvement in the decision. How the key players relate with one another is essential to the health of our organization.


Your comments are embarrassing and unprofessional. Yes, the Dolphins have a lot of problems and we fans would like to see improvement. We read your articles hoping for real news. All we get is multiple blogs about Philbin reading from index cards. Yep, that's the real problem--if ONLY Philbin would MEMORIZE his comments! The world would be right aain! Your are like a teenage girl. How can we trust anything we read in the Herald when we have to sift throuigh whatever stupid agenda you seem to be obessed with. You are blowing everyday crap out of proportion or jist making it up as you go. Who knows Don't know whether Philbin will survive but I know if the Herald keeps a "reporter" like you on staff, I will rely on ESPN for the real news.

DD, to be fair to the owner, he has tried to instill stability, he gave teh world to Parcells and all Parcells did was steal his money and go home.

He gave more rope to Ireland than 90% of the world would've gave - to the point where it became embarassing to the organization in some circles.

He's appears ready to forego getting the best candidate in the GM because he wants stability in Philbin.

IN three instances now the owner has wanted stability in the worst way - problem is he has been stuck with lemons and ingrates so far. You can be the most devoted husband in the world but if your wife is a crack smoking huer - it wouldn't lend it itself to the most stable home life - may make your wife mayor of Toronto - but not stable.


If I read your post correctly you said you're in favour of the HC having the power. Philbin's our HC. So are you suggesting the new GM fire Philbin and then we hire someone else who will have all the power?

Who are you suggesting?

We need to look at what the Patriots have been doing for years. BB is in control of all Football operations. As such he has a defined scheme of both offense and defense that with some variations has been run in NE since 2000. Under this philosophy the Off and Def coordinators do not dictate scheme they simply oversee the team scheme that exists. So when coordinators come and go, the Pats are not changing schemes. This continuity more than Tom Brady is the reason why the Pats are so consistently good. We need to put the right person in place to do this in Miami. I don't think Joe Philbin or Dawn Aponte are capable.

Hi Dashi.
Miss you!

the three structure?
the three stooges?

Bill, Sir. You must have lead people before. You understand what leadership means.

Heck, you don't even have to be dominant, just give me a leader that doesn't quit!! That way everyone else knows that quitting is unacceptable.

Reason to me Dansby was a horrible leader.He would find a way to quit in the 4th.

My vote is for Tom Gamble as GM
.....uh.....wooops.....I forgot, I don't have a vote.

Posted by: Craig M | January 09, 2014 at 10:47 AM

I wouldn't mind Pioli either Craig, except, like you said, he's a "strange duck." Ross would have to make ABSOLUTE SURE he's compatible with Philbin & Aponte if it's going to work next year. Or else why even try?

And you're 100% correct on Soliai, he was nursing an injury most of the year. And not sure why people said Starks had a down year, he was our best DL vs. the run, I think he had a pretty good year. His role changed, if you want to blame anyone for his performance people should blame Coyle.

yeah,have three chiefs
and no Indians
1-15 disaster commeth


Problems solved.

Pioli, Craig? The same guy who hired Crennel and Haley? The same guy who handed the kingdom to matt Cassel - a guy who wasn't good enough to start for his college team? Nope, no thanks.

One may say he had no better option than cassel - but he did. look it up on ESPN - when McDaniels took over the head coaching job in Denver, before he shipped Cutler to Chicago - he offered Cutler to KC straight up for Cassel. Pioli turned it down. keep in mind this is not the Cutler we know today but a young jay Cutler - who's stock was much higher than it is today.

I don't care how many o lineman or corners you can draft - if you can't spot a Qb or coach - you're worthless.

Harbaugh in 2015 or another coach as philbin has to be on hot seat. As for GM Gamble would be my pick hands down if he is interested.

Say what you want about Ross but I love him. He wants to win as bad as the fans and willing to spend money to do it. Unfortunately he is still trying to figure out the right way to do it.

Parcells mess took some years to clean up

Dashi, personally not a fan of your structure - I like a sleeker clean approach. Also appears Dawn has gorwn too big for her breeches for her to be included in this hierarchy. Take it from someone who knows - there are a million people who can do her job. She's been elevated in Miami because of teh middle aged and older horny men like the cut of her gib around the office - and in their plane.

She's easily replaceable. heck, i work with two guys here and myself a third that could do her job. It's not rocket science and doesn't need years of training or a special eye like being a GM or coach.

Mark you act like franchise QB come a dime a dozen. Look at the team he built.. You have to look at the big picture and not just one posistion.. Anyway I dont like Pioeli I rather Tom Gamble because hes worked in the 49ers and well as the Eagles 2 successful franchcise

..Mark in Toronto. I think Ross is part of he problem.

I understand he is dying to get this right. But in every crisis situation we have experienced under his reign. I think he has handled each of them poorly.

From the Sparano disaster, to the failure to gain the public support necessary to make improvements on the stadium. To the celebrity involvement, to the Bullygate scandal, to this...All fails IMO.

Now this last crisis could be the turning point. Who knows. Maybe he gets this one right. I just have no faith that finally "this time" is the last time.

Man that really sucks. Am I in too deep?

Again with belicheck - his teams are good because of Brady. he's a defensive mastermind yet his dfense was statistically worse than ours. he has an offense that gives him several kicks at the can and to make several adjustments until he gets the chance to get it right - and then he takes all the plaudits - bordering on fraud I say...


Sounds like I'm picking on you today but in your last post you're saying a guy like Peterson, as the football czar, should have final say in personnel matters? No thanks! We tried that with Parcells and it didn't work. We had Long over Ryan, Chad Henne and Pat White. I don't want that scenario again here. Peterson is too removed from the game and doesn't have the energy to be well enough informed to make final decisions. Get a guy in here who knows what he's doing and let him decide who he's going to work with. This extra layer of management is ridiculous and unnecessary. Its everything thats wrong with Corporate America today. Too much discussion, too much indecision and too many layers. Get qualified people to run the show and let them do their jobs.



What I am suggesting is either Hire a Strong HC that would hire his own GM. Usually this means the HC is experienced.


Hire a C.Peterson type who would hire his own GM, and give Philbin a 1 year trial or replace him right away.

I just won't hire Pioli and make him all powerful GM. Pioli is good at talent scouting, horrendous at hiring a HC.

Again, Most good coaches won't work under a GM. We didn't learn anything from last time!

Even L.Smith got to pick his own GM. And he isn't a Great Coach, just a good one.

He hate Me ... I definitely know franchise Qbs are not a dime a dozen which is why I am a staunch defender of our own to the point wher I have you ridicule me. however Cassel is nor has ever been even as good as Tannehill in one season. he is and has forever been (except for his season in New England in 2008) atrocious. Not even average ... crap. You have a chance to flip a 7th round pick qb for one who was the 11th pick in the draft and in his thrid year in the league straight up and you don't do it? Man, that is some major crappage.

Philbin reminds me of a limp d&@k guy standing at the end of the line in a gang bang porno, totally non-functional.

He needs to Go-Go!

Philbin reminds me of one of those life size "Fathead" wall posters. Motionless, emotionless, one dimensional.

He just gives me no confidence as a HC not just because of his demeanor but also because of what often appeared to be poor game planning and adjusting. But, what do I know...

But, he's been in NFL coaching for some time, and the Pack had success with him on board so there must be, and I hope there is something that he does that is good for the team.

Nevertheless I would like to see a GM that can boot him if he has one more "fathead" type of mediocre season.

Once again Armando Salguero is wrong. It's not as simple as he puts it here. Stephen Ross wants to hire a GM that is going to be responsible FOR ALL player personnel decisions, because he wants a expert scout & talent evaluator. Furthermore he is going to have total control of the hiring & firing of anybody(But only if he lands a top notch GM like Tom Gamble, Jason Licht or Scott Pioli). If he can't land one of these top GM candidates & he goes with someone like Marc Ross, Omar Khan or promotes Brain Gaine OR Dawn Aponte as interim GM's (Although he won't name them interim GM's)they will share player personnel responsibility with Joe Philbin & won't have the power to hire OR fire anybody.
The best case scenario is that Miami lands one of the 1st 3 GM's I mentioned, because they are far & away the best talent evaluators available & Super Star talent is what we need more than anything.

Btw the way I guess you guys have heard the Bucs have hired Sparano as their o-line coach.

Wouldn't it be sweet if they hired Ireland as GM as well. The fight would be on!

I have never ridiculed you Mark besides your love fest for Tannehill i think your posts are normally spot on. Now Dashi has no creaditabilty whatsoever..


The way I am saying is the way all the "Good Franchises" do it.

Overlord, Coach, GM. Sometimes the Coach is the Overlord, Sometimes the GM is the Overlord.

Either way I am not trying to reinvent the wheel.

And you can never pick on me Craig. We are just debating.

cxraig u gotta wake up on pioli, hes awful never seen it worse here in kc when he was here

Am I the only one who doesnt want Highsmith Sr. here. I guess GB has some good players, but their offensive line has sucked for a long time. I think we have already had a a GM who sucks with drafting linemen. Yes I know Highsmith isnt a GM now and shouldnt shoulder all that blame, but still !!


Everybody makes mistakes. Sometimes people learn more from mistakes than from winning. NOBODY gets it right all the time. In Pioli's defence, Cassel was a guy he got in the seventh round, who went on to start quite a few games in the NFL. He did lead the Pats to an 11-5 season the year Brady went down. I think we can understand his loyalty to Cassel. I think its similar to Parcells and Pennington. A middle of the road QB, who with the right pieces around him can take a team to the playoffs. And Jay Cutler? I liked this guy a lot coming out of College but I don't see a team EVER winning a Championship with Cutler as their QB. He just doesn't seem like a leader and a guy players will go through a wall for. I think Pioli was right to pass on him.

For me the choice is Pioli but its partly because I don't know Gamble well enough. I have no clue how good he is and I don't think others do either. Reminds me of The Ireland situation too much coming from Dallas. Are we really attributing successes in SF and Philly to Gamble or are there other guys more responsible?

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