« Henderson, Armstrong, other Canes looking to reach potential; plus Fins, Heat | Main | Philbin talks QB battle, needs at receiver and o-line; draft order set »

Ross defends Ireland, QB plan; here's what Ross and Jeff Ireland said Monday

Here’s what Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland had to say when they met with the media Monday afternoon at the NFL owners’ meetings at The Breakers in Palm Beach:

### Ross’ opening statement: “We have all seen it in the last week or two how passionate our fans are. That’s good news and bad news. It’s great they are passionate. We have great fans in South Florida. We have one thing in common: We all want to see a winning team. I’m very excited the way things are going. We have a new coach [Joe Philbin], and he once said, ‘I thought it would be great here. It’s even better than I thought it would be.’ He’s excited about the direction he feels he can take this team. The energy he’s brought to the organization. We have the best organization the Dolphins have had in a long time."

### Ross, asked about some fans believing the organization is in disarray: “I don’t feel all the fans would feel that way. I don’t think there’s enough communication with them. We’re going to engage in that a lot more. If people look today and say you haven’t gone out and gone after major free agents we thought you might have had, we look at it as ‘we’re in the process.’ Some things go well. Some don’t go as well as you would like them to go, [with regard to] Peyton Manning.”

### Ross, on the roster: “We think we have fine nucleus. We’re excited where we’re going. Rome wasn’t built in a day. From where the team was before me, I think it’s better. You see the nucleus. They continue to fight. I don’t think anyone has ever had a turnaround that [second half] of the season with the start they had.” Miami opened 0-7 and finished 6-10. "We know where there are some weaknesses. We’re looking to correct that.”

### Ross, on Philbin: “He’s much better than I thought. The energy he has brought, the staff he has assembled, the plan he has – you are going to see a lot more energy from this organization. You are going to like the offense he has. We have the guy who put together the best offense in the NFL. You’re going to see an exciting brand of football.”

### Ross, on how concerned he is about the organization’s perception: “You always want to be concerned. You listen to it. That’s why I wanted to engage the fans. That’s why I made the phone calls. We spoke to two fans. I think it’s unfair. Winning resolves all issues. It’s not like we lost anything. We all knew where we were at the end of the season.” (Actually, the Dolphins did lose Brandon Marshall - who was traded for two third-round picks - as well as Yeremiah Bell, who was cut but might re-sign.)

### Ross, on criticism of Ireland: “I think it’s unfair. I don’t like it. I don’t think Jeff likes it. It’s unfair. It’s an unfinished product…. If you look at his past, he’s done a great job with the draft.  He’s a great talent evaluator, as hard working as anyone as I’ve ever met, as smart as they come on the football side. What are you judging him on? The team is not the same as when we arrived. It’s a lot better. We’re a lot closer. You’ve got to get breaks.... To judge [the team] at this point in time is not the right thing to do by anybody.” Ross went on to say that the team is only partly through the offseason.

### On his longterm plans at quarterback: “We’re going to keep looking to upgrade that. I’m very excited about Matt Moore. As he got more experience, the team got better. That’s a good place to start. There’s a lot of good personnel on that team.”

### Ireland, on quarterback: “I don’t have any second thoughts on addressing the quarterback position. The quarterback position needs to play better for us to have the ultimate success. We think we have addressed the quarterback position. In our estimation, there was one franchise quarterback who came available [Peyton Manning]. Other than that, a lot is to be said for Matt Moore. I have a lot of confidence in Matt Moore. If we didn’t achieve Peyton Manning, the goal was to create a competitive situation with quarterback. We weren’t going to be reckless, go after players we didn’t definitively think would beat out Matt Moore.”

### Ireland, on criticism of him: “It comes with the job. Adversity is the companion of a champion or enemy of the weak. We have some passionate fans, as passionate as any place I’ve been. We’ve got to do a better job of communicating with our fans and making sure we’re more transparent in what we accomplish.”

### So now that you’re being transparent, what is the plan? To which Ireland said, “I’m not going to get into exactly what the plans are. We are trying to attack our musts. We have done a pretty good job of retaining Paul Soliai, which was a must, keeping the inside front [largely together]. We felt upgrading the secondary was a position of need. We addressed that need. We will keep attacking our musts.”

### Ross, on why Miami didn’t pursue Tim Tebow: “He didn’t fit our system. You’re not going to bring someone in just to sell seats. We dismissed that early on.”

### Ross said the fact Miami hasn’t done extensions with any of the players entering the last year of their contract (Jake Long, Randy Starks, Reggie Bush, Brian Hartline and others) is not because of any budgetary restraints.

“Money will never be an issue. We have to live with the limitations of the cap. Sometimes you lose players. We have a lot of players expiring. We have to make sure we don’t make stupid mistakes… with big bonuses… that really impact the cap.  This is one hell of a complex business. Those players we know are coming up – we all know we want to retain them. We want to make sure we’re in position to do that.”

### Ireland, asked if he believes if he has found starters at right guard and right tackle, didn’t directly answer. “We have added depth with Artis Hicks. He has started 70 games in his career. We needed to address more depth at tackle. We have John Jerry, Nate Garner, Ryan Cook returning. We feel good at that position. We’re going to continue to address the offensive line needs. That’s one must we need to address.”

### Ross said coaching will be better under Philbin: “You will see these players developed better than they have been in the past.” He said it's "always better" to build mostly through the draft: "In evaluating him, what Green Bay has done – we should only get there. It starts this year. We want consistency there. I want to be in the playoffs every year. You are going to do that with consistency and in the draft and building smart."

### Ross, asked if the failed pursuit of Jim Harbaugh, Jeff Fisher and Manning will affect his future plan of attack: “I will do it again and again. I’m going to be bold. You don’t lose for trying. I’m not going to be worry about losing. Nothing ventured is nothing gained.”

### Ireland, on whether the Dolphins tried to trade for the No. 2 overall pick before Washington did: “We had early conversations. I don’t want to get into depths of what we were willing to give up.”

### Ross, on whether the Dolphins miscalculated Manning’s interest level: “I met with his father [Archie] earlier in December. We spoke about it. He loves South Florida. He wanted to be in a place where he was most comfortable, and he didn’t know anybody in our house. He wanted to be in a place where he had familiar faces around him. I went after him. If I didn’t go after him, I wouldn’t be interested in wining. I want to win today, not tomorrow.”

### Ross, on owning a team: “It’s a real experience. I’ve had more owners come up to me and say I didn’t know what was going on for four or five years. It’s difficult to really win. You know what players you want. It doesn’t mean you can get them. I haven’t lost on many things. I don’t plan on losing on this.”

### Ross, on players tweeting they don’t want to play for the Dolphins: I know of one player who did that [Ryan Clark]. You are always going to find someone who will say something for one reason. People will always want to say something because they like being in the spotlight. This is probably the best place in the NFL to play football. Players will want to play for this organization. The reputation coach Philbin has. I wouldn’t go by what one or two people might say. You will see a different organization. We are going to be a lot more responsive.”

### Ross told a fan last week that Brandon Marshall was traded because of the impact he had on team morale. But Ross refused to elaborate about that, saying only, “We wish him the best. That’s history. It was a trade. It wasn’t a cut. We think the football team is better for it.”

### Ross, on wanting to be more transparent: "We're in a new world today. You can't have a bunker mentality.''

### Ross, on fans protesting last week: “I’m a passionate fan, as they are. When someone is passionate enough, they’re going to go out and protest. That’s the type of fan I want to talk to. I wanted to talk to someone that passionate.”