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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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Posted by: Dashi | January 09, 2014 at 10:02 AM


when you set us up with another Bellichek, with you talent for finding gems pick us up another Tom Brady while your at it. Why even bother with a GM??

pilois drafts were awful, trade was disaster. hiring of coaches was a joke. arrogant idiot


Who are you suggesting to be 'all powerful coach'. If you're talking about some of the guys you are talking about, they will NEVER come here? And who are the personnel guys they are bringing with them? I don't see this model working.

And dusty,

If you're telling me Pioli is the WRONG choice that just reaffirms it in my mind that we should DEFINITELY hire him.

Craig, 49ers and Eagles franchises are loaded with talent and have been perrineal playoffs teams for the last decade and Gamble has a hand in this...what is not to like. Also word around NFL is hes a great scout and even nicer person. Total opposite of Ireland.

Did anyone think the Fins played hard the last 2 games?? I mean we were blown out! I really want Philbin gone because he didnt have the team
Emotionally ready for the last 2 games. They were goimg through the motion..

yes craig cause u have sure nailed ....nothing. been telling u for years we arent a playoff team and still havent been. u dispute this every year. now u want a guy in pioli who is horrible. his drafts were big busts, freaked out about gum wrappers on floor. hired horrible crennel not sure what ur liking about him, least name one thing besides the fact that he was in new england

i agree also. but with craig he throws a fit if u dont agree with him. everyone has opinions no biggie. im with the masses on this one, hire gamble. not some idiot retread who failed big time

Craig, agreed but those are fatal mistakes - probably worse than any mistakes the guy we just fired made. I mean the Dolphins never got as bad under Ireland as KC was under Pioli.

The kind of mistakes I wouldn't want to chance to double here. I mean we made that mistake with Wannstedt years ago and he made the exact same mistakes here as he did in Chicago. We already gave one guy the 2nd chance and our franchise never recovered.

Choice #1 Strong GM by a landslide. The biggest reason by far is limits choices. Might be different if we had a strong HC but we don't. Chances are, he'll be gone next year. What then? More committees?

I believe Ross will go for #2 or 3. Hope I'm wrong.

Posted by: Rick | January 09, 2014 at 11:22 AM


I tend to agree with the 1st part of your post, of course I'll admit I'm somewhat of a glass half full kind of person.

They are saying through Garfinkle or what ever his name is that they are looking for a top guy. They have in fact asked permission to interview Marc Ross who is also on the Bucs radar.

The OC candidates look pretty decent as well although I'm not the hugest Kubiak fan.

The last part of your post mentioning Aponte though would put me in the boat with the Ross haters though.

She is a lawyer and cap specialist. What does she know about football??

agree big time philbin should be gone, but we know he wont be till after next season cause ross once again became friends with an employee. this could really hurt us in looking for a legit gm, knowing they are coming here having to keep awful philbin

so true mark

rick what real gm is gonna take bucs job knowing he has no power over lovie

No, now you can see Cutler in his 7th year or whatever is nothing special and Chicago is stuck paying him 18m a year - good luck with that.

But as a 3rd year qb or whatever he was at the tme - you have Charlie Weiss to mentor him - might have turned out different.

Pioli made some of the same critical mistakes in his logic Ireland has been accused of here - being blindly loyal to guys from NE - just like Ireland was to Dallas for a while.

It's officially hit you tube

Parody & song on Jeff Ireland's demise

copy & Paste or type in ur search engine:

funny, funny stuff

check it out


cutler contract a disaster and kc about to do samething with alex smith

I'd be shocked if a top-talent GM would be deterred if he was told he had to keep Philbin for 1 more year--cant imagine that would be a dealbreaker because I cant see Philbin lasting beyond that if Fins arent a playoff team (or have a winning record at least)--if that happens, the GM would probably want to keep Philbin or at least be open to keeping him--and if it doesnt happen, the GM has the easy decision to fire Philbin and move on--I dont see Philbin being a big issue, if trying to attract a power/quality GM.

It's officially hit you tube

Parody & song on Jeff Ireland's demise

copy & Paste or type in ur search engine:

funny, funny stuff

check it out, lol


It's going to be a long time before the news surrounding this franchise will be about the play on the field.

gamble is from philly and has a sick father. that could deter the whole process with him

and if keeping Philbin for another year IS a big issue for a new GM.....then that GM is probably not confident or strong enough to make tough decisions and do the job well to begin with.

To someone who I am indifferent towards, (Hate is to strong a word for someone I could care less about)

Love how you spout ignorance about the Dashi.

Who said last year Priority #1 in the Off season was Jake Long?

Did this team have the talent to be 11-5 this season? And they were closer to 10-6 than 4-12 like you stated.

R.Bush had a subbar season. Please explain how he had a great season.

Dansby and Burnett? Seriously!! So Dansby had the best year of his entire life. What did he do in Miami?

Dansby 2012 Season
101 Tkls
1 Sack
1 FF

Ellerbe 2013 Season
$1 Mil
101 Tkls
1 Sack
0 FF

Again, Dashi never said Ellerbe is more talented. Just that you can find any LB to do Dansby's job for a lot less than him.

And 2012 was Dansby's best year as a Dolphin.

agree dashi, not one free agent we let leave i regret. glad they are gone

also i knew those 2 lb signings by ireland would be awful this year, most disagreed with me at the time.

Jason La Canfora ‏@JasonLaCanfora 5m

Dolphins Executive VP Dawn Aponte, who was a candidate for NFL's VP of football ops, withdrew from consideration recently sources said...


We'll see. From what I understand the player personnel guy for KC Chris Ballard is the front runner.

Lovie Smith will have final say but he says it's no biggie and doesn't expect to have to pull rank.

Of course we've heard all that feel good we're on the same page nonsense with Ireland and Philbin too.

rdubs means she had no chance at it

..Dolfan Rick.. I would love a Kubiak as the OC. He would bring some balance to the madness we saw offensively this year.

We wanted to spread the field. Let the progression tell you where the ball goes. It was robotic offense 101. No soul, no imagination. We loved to go 11 personnel even though we couldn't block in the formations inside this grouping. We wanted to go 4 wide even though Tannehill is still learning how to identify and make correct reads. Add to the fact we couldn't block it..And Tannehill struggled to identify protections out of this personnel..Disaster.

3-4 wide groupings are great. But they are not quarterback friendly formations. Not to be run as much as we tried last year. It was insanity. We have to make changes to the offense, even if we have an improved line. These schemes are not sustainable unless you have elite level quarterback play. Tannehill may improve..He isn't going to be Elite next year.

So Kubiak would bring a 2 tight end oriented system. More play action off of formations that are run orientated. But don't have to be. Hopefully we would cut down on Tannehills attempts by 4-5 per game. That is almost 80 less passes in a year. That is where this team has to be..Around 500 for the year.

You do not saddle young unproven quarterbacks with a system like ours. It is suicide. We have been trying to fly before we could run. It needs to be the opposite.

gamble's fathers poor health IS a big factor (was the primary reason he left SF for Philly)--plus his father was president of the eagles for quite awhile, well liked/respected there--strong roots in philly....gonna take heavy paper and plenty of control to get him to move

rick news out of kc today is kc wouldnt let him interview for bucs opening cause its not a promotion since he wouldnt have any control. so cross him off


KC sent 6 guys to the Pro Bowl last year. Not all those guys were his picks but he obviously did something right. Give me a team that has Eric Berry, Tyson Jackson, Jon Asamoah, Justin Houston and Dontari Poe.....thats a good start!

He had good success drafting players in New England.

NONE of us know if Gamble is responsible for successs in Philly or SF. gamble's just a NAME The media is throwing around. He may or may not be a good hire. Those teams both have good GM's too. I heard a lot of the same stuff about Ireland before he came here. Give me a guy who's ACTUALLY done the job before.

So we're going to have Philbin, Dawn as GM and a yes-man talent evaluator.

My question: Who's going to motivate the team next?


I agree, I really hope Kubiak comes here. In Houton he always had offenses that perform very well and always had great offensive lines. 2 things I really want!! I do think he threw the ball too much last year though..

agree dashi.....ellerbe and wheeler were mediocre but hopefully will improve with time, but lets move on from dansby and burnett--dansby was solid but disappointing here (relative to his contract and reputation), and had all of ONE contract offer (a whopping 1 year deal....hardly a committment)--Burnett was solid but nothing special--yes, both had good years this year but who would realistically expect that to happen again?

Posted by: darryldunphy | January 09, 2014 at 11:46 AM


So you think Philbin can be influenced to change that strategy?

Personally I don't like all of the power Philbin and Aponte seem to be getting.

Aponte has done good with the cap, but thats just a small portion of being the GM.

Philbin has been good at times, but has also done some really questionable things and had 2 below average coordinators. Hopefully Philbin, Coyle, and the new OC can work well together.

Hopefully Gamble gets brought in and can do a good job. Like Mando, I am not a fan of Ross firing Ireland and keeping Philbin. I think it should have been a full cleansing if Jeff wasn't given another year.

tyson jackson is horrible, will be cut . berry he took with 5 pick in draft and cant cover a te for his life. poe and houston basically his only solid picks. asamoah solid guy though,lol, lives by me. none of us know if he was responsible for players in new england then

I used to think that it didn't matter who the owner was, as long as they threw money at the team.

I now see how wrong I was.

agree on kubiack, would like to see him here or kyle shanahan


I was never a fan of Wheeler. But to say we should've kept any of those guys is absurd. The only guy that we needed to keep was J.Long out that group and Jackie Long made the decision for us.

Who would you prefer B.Grimes or S.Smith?

Clay or Fasano?

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). If he can't land Gamble & he goes with someone like Jason Licht, Marc Ross, Omar Khan, Scott Pioli 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 hires Tom Gamle as GM & gives him total control (no matter if it makes Joe Philbin expendable or not), because he is far & away the best talent evaluator available & Super Star talent is what we need more than anything.

lol dashi thats any easy question. kc already trying to figure out way to cut awful smith. fasano was nothing like always. disagree on long also, another bad injury

I like Kubiak as OC and T-Hill won't have to adjust that much. Kubiak runs the same system. Kubiak is also a former Pro QB.

agree rick

Fasano would have actually been helpful because he can block. He doesn't make a ton of money either.

Had Keller stayed healthy though it would be a moot point.

..Not interested.

How can you say the fans in Miami do not want stability?

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


How can I say it? Because a lot of you guys go into "fire everybody" mode every other year.

Behaving that way is the very DEFINITION of instability and would create a work environment that NOBODY worth a damn would ever want to be part of.

Interesting you brought up Cowher, by the way. It took him THIRTEEN YEARS to get the Steelers over the hump and the fans there wanted him canned multiple times during that time (that's the truth).

You guys would have been doing the same had it been the Dolphins. Of that I have ZERO doubt.

...RDUBS..I am not comparing Tannehill to a guy like Alex Smith. But for this point I will. We all would love to see a game where Tannehill throws for 350 plus yards 4 tds..It would be great. We are never going to see this in the type of offense we played last year. Alex Smith can do this because KC runs the freekin ball. Russel Wilson can do this because Seattle Runs the ball.

Now Manning, Brady, Brees, Rodgers..They can do it because they are insane.

We have to find some middle ground so that Tannehill has a chance. He has been asked to play the position above the level that his skill set allows. This could be brilliance, this could be huge mistake.

The best way to give Tannehill some help, besides offensive line. Is getting rid of the way we wanted to play offense last year in favor of a much more sustainable offense.

Speaking of Pioli, can someone relate all of Boy Wonder's 'accomplishments' when he didn't have two guys named Brady and Belichick at his side?


I understand you disagreeing on J.Long. Less than a Handful of us wanted him back last year. I wanted to franchise him for 1 more season to see if he is durable or not, but to at least have that security for 1 season. Which apparently we needed.

cowher thing way off base. he had 6 straight winning seasons to begin his tenure there.

almost any of the OC names being thrown around should help Tannehills development at least, and should be a fairly big upgrade over that Zac kid, the QB coach--terrible hire, to mentor/coach your high pick/QB of the future--I know he was tied in with Sherman, but he's the best Philbin could do?

well lucky we didnt now dashi,lol

Dusty--that's true.

ALSO true is that Steeler fans tagged him with the "can't win the big one" label and called for his exit numerous times.

Until it finally worked out, that is.

Let's not even try to pretend it would have been any different with THIS fan base.

People talk a great game about wanting "stability" but their own words show them to be lying about it.

Fasano was a progress stopper. If he was on the team Sims or Egnew wouldn't be given a chance to develop. Clay wouldn't have had a breakout year either with Fasano taking snaps away from him.

I don't get the boss love affair with people. I am the boss and owner, I do this because
A: I want a winner for my ego.
B: I enjoy building winners
C: Most importantly I like making money.

Philbin will not make Ross money. It appears that Philbin has the mind of an accountant. Neither here nor there but things are what they are attitude. 8-8 is a good and the books were balanced.

No half time adjustments. Clock management was poor. He let refs push him around. Problems surfaced during the games and rarely adjusted.
He could have rid himself of Incognito.
He just had to open his mouth. He didn't and the rest happened. Not saying Martin would not have bolted just that this little fire could have been nipped in the bud by leaking the whole mess to the media.
As for Ireland, let's just say the man was a big weirdo with an ego bigger than his boss Bill and that got him in all kinds of trouble.
In the end the money belongs to Ross. Changes are up to Ross. But in a sunny city, with warm temperatures, a state that has an awesome high school and university program, one should be able to sell the NFL. He can't and doesn't know why. I don't go to games to see the rich and famous. Most fans to see the game.

..Not interested...I never brought up Cowher.

Second...I was for keeping Ireland, and Philbin together. The only reason I said get rid of Philbin is that I think it is a mistake to retain 1 of these guys and get rid of the other. Especially when both were tied to our quarterback. Now we have to find a GM that is sympathetic to both QB, and HC.

To me this is a mistake. You have to go full tilt boogie, or bust. We went soft out of the cold water before your dream girl.

It may work, it may be the right move. I can only offer my opinion on the matter. But as far as stability goes..I'm all for it.

Dusty, wonder if a lot of people here shoudl still repeatedly rip on our qb knwoing he costs $3M against the cap while similar players who will never get better are costing $18-20M against their teams cap - Flacco, Cutler, now Smith...


I agree with everything you said. SO we improve our OL and draft Tre Mason(sorry I have to keep beating this dead horse, I am smitten) and we should be off and running, pun intended.

Now if only we can get some run stuffing LB's.....

On stability:

If we had better coaching this year, we win one of those last two games, get in the playoffs, and the season is hailed as a success. Nobody gets fired, we maintain stability and continue to improve.

Even with the collaspe, if we stay the course instead of scapegoting and firing everybody, then we're in the playoffs next year with an improved OL and running game. Nobody gets fired, we maintain stability and continue to improve.

But two years into the program, which is not enough time, we scrap the plan and change courses yet again, insuring a continued lack stability.

Darryl, I agree with you. Keeping 1 guy and firing another was a mistake in my opinion as well.

Rdubs, Tre Mason looked really good in that national title game. If he comes out we might be able to snag him in the 3rd round since hes a runningback, which would be excellent.

Thumbs down on Pioli. I agree with dusty. Ireland has proven to be a better GM than Pioli. Check the record.

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