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Men in Stephen Ross's ear: Marino, Tannenbaum

Joe Philbin fate seems sealed following Sunday's 41-13 blowout loss at the hands of the New England Patriots. It wasn't so much this lone failure that is the coach's undoing but rather the last two weeks in which Philbin has been unable to coax his team to play well in the biggest games of the year -- games that decided Miami's postseason status.

And in that regard, the failures against Baltimore and New England resembled the team's inability to close in the final two games of the 2013 season when the playoffs beckoned and the Dolphins could not win even once to reach the postseason.

So now Philbin's days are numbered.

But that's not what this is about. The what-ifs and what-might-be scenarios are covered in the column.

This is more about who will have say in those myriad scenarios. That's where Dan Marino and Mike Tannenbaum come into play.

After Miami's disappointment on Sunday, Ross was seen talking intently with both Marino and Tannenbaum. And although the entirety of the conversation could not be properly picked up, it is clear the men were discussing, at least in part, the Dolphins situation and future.

The scene was not typical of what happens after a game.

Afterward, Tannenbaum was seen at Ross's helicopter -- again, not a usual occurrence. Tannenbaum got on the copter and flew back to the New York area with Ross. The Dolphins say Marino did not get on the helicopter but instead went back with the team on the team charter.

Marino is a Dolphins special advisor to the owner. But he went to great lengths in his interview with me a couple of months ago to say he has never been asked to evaluate Philbin. That's not what he was hired to do, Marino said.

Yet it's obvious if boss Ross asks the former star quarterback his opinion about Philbin, Marino will use the knowledge he's gained in attending practices, sitting in on offensive and defensive meetings, attending games and talking to players to share his thoughts with the owner.

Tannenbaum is the former general manager of the New York Jets. He was originally interested in being considered for the Miami GM post when Jeff Ireland and Ross split. That obviously didn't happen, but Tannenbaum was then hired as a "consultant" to help the Dolphins on a variety of projects involving innovation, analytics and sports science.

But who are these people trying to kid? Nothing about what Tannenbaum talked with Ross about on Sunday in that confab that included Marino included analytics and sports science. No way. No how.

Indeed Tannenbaum is yet another member of the shadow government that Ross has surrounded himself with -- men such as Carl Peterson. These folks aren't employed by the team in an orthodox fashion yet give the owner advice about the team although they are rarely actually around the team.

Yeah, weird.

Tannenbaum has been to most if not all the games. But he's never at training camp or practices. Anyway, Tannenbaum's day job is as a sports agent. He was hired by Relativity Sports to help found that company's branch of representation for coaches and broadcast talent.

Among the clients Tannenbaum represents are Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, who was also the Raiders head coach for a short time.

What are the chances one or all these guys interview for the next Dolphins job? And how do you think Joe Philbin would feel about seeing his boss in deep discussion with the in-house coach agent minutes after a tenure defining loss? How do you think Dennis Hickey would feel about seeing his boss in deep discussion with a guy who want to be GM instead of the guy who, you know, actually got the job?

Look, I get it. The NFL is about winning and losing. Winners get praised and losers get pushed to the margins. But I remind you Ross has been owner since 2009 and his hiring of coaches and general managers has been messy.

It now seems there will be another coaching search after this season. Marino and Tannenbaum will obviously have say in what happens.

It would be nice if this time, the Dolphins can stay classy in how they conduct business.