Should Sparano's Job Be On The Line?

Should Time be Ticking on Sparano's tenure in Miami?

It’s a hot topic around the Miami Dolphins fan forums these days, should Tony Sparano’s job on the line?  Adam Schefter reported late last week that Sparano was on the hot-seat.  Go to just about any Dolphins fan forum, including ours, and you will inevitably find the topic being debated up and down.  Names like Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher, and Brian Billick being mentioned as replacements.  Even talk of Jeff Fisher if he leaves Tennessee.  So while the fans are starting to throw wood on the fire, let’s answer the question.  Should Tony Sparano lose his job at the end of the season?

The first thing you have to look at is his record as a head coach since taking over the job from Cam Cameron.  Tony Sparano is 23 -19 with one playoff loss.  He finished 11-5 in year one behind an offense that exploded with the use of the Wild Cat.  He finished in 3rd place last season and is currently in 3rd place in the division this year through nine games.

While the numbers would indicate that Sparano is over the .500 mark it’s also telling that the one season that he took the team to the division title was when the WC was the focal point of the offense.  So is that misleading?  Perhaps.  Let’s take a deeper look on page two and then answer the poll question and see what others think.Players – Sparano has the respect of his player.  He is a tough no-nonsense coach who will not throw players under the bus or call them out in the media.  His focus has always been team first and the players are buying into that mantra.  While the success on the field has yet to pay off from that mentality.  Make no mistake though, much like Don Shula for all those years, Sparano does not make friends with the players.  He is all business.

Game Day - In Sparano’s first season as an HC, he made mistake after mistake after mistake.  From calling ill advised timeouts to play challenges that had no business being challenged.  While he improved on his skills in year two, his clock management agenda still lacked considerably and became a gameday joke to fans.  Year three and Sparano seems to have a grasp on his clock management but there still is a lot of improvement needed.  While he is using the clock in terms of his timeouts far better, the lack of urgency on the field and two minute drills makes Sparano look as though he is lost.

Offensive issues - Ultimately, what is on the field is the responsibility of the HC.   For the Dolphins the plays are called in by OC Dan Henning, a Bill Parcells hire and personal friend.  Make no mistake, regardless of whether Sparano wanted to or not, Dan Henning will not be fired because Parcells is still involved to some degree with the team.  So how much of the play calling can really be attributed to the head coach under these circumstances?

Unfortunately we don’t know.  We don’t know how the Dolphins gameplan each week and who is at the heart of that plan.  Does Sparano sit down with Henning and draw it up or does Sparano wait for Henning to hand the plan over to Sparano before the first practice?  Regardless it is still the HC’s responsibility but I wonder if Sparano would be more aggressive or less aggressive with an OC that he hired himself.

Defensive issues – The Dolphins have improved from the league ranking last year and that has a lot to do with the addition of Mike Nolan whom I have been told was more a push from Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano than Bill Parcells.    For the most part the defense has been good.  On the field far too much at times but overall, Mike Nolan has done a good job with the units youth and continuity on that side of the ball will allow the team to only get better.  However, where Sparano is concerned, he is more hands off with that side of the ball.

Personnel - The players on the field are a combination of Bill Parcells draft picks and Jeff Ireland’s free agency additions.  Tony Sparano has said in previous media interviews that he goes to Jeff Ireland to look for players and while that is the norm for any team that has separate HC and GM’s, you have to wonder ultimately how much input the HC has in adding players that he wants or getting players added that he doesn’t want.  I have to assume that Sparano and Ireland pull these shots together so I think in terms of the personnel that have come to the Dolphins VIA a route outside of Bill Parcells should be attributed to both equally.  The question there is which players are Ireland/Sparano and which ones are Parcells?

Continuity – Three years ago the Dolphins replaced the one and done Cam Cameron and Bill Parcells brought in his entourage of coaches and management team.  Most fans argued that a 3-5 year window would be needed to truly view the changes on the field.  It’s year three in a rebuild that saw almost a 55% change in players in the first two years alone.  The issue with the Dolphins is that they are in a division where one team, the NY Jets rebuilt with a new HC and high-profile free agent picks and trades and are now the front runners in the division, and the New England Patriots that are atop the division with the Jets while rebuilding as well.

Each team took a different path to rebuild themselves.  The Jets spent a lot of money locking up pricey free agents and resigning key components of their roster that existed prior to the arrival their new HC Rex Ryan.  The biggest change however was the approach and brazen attitude of Ryan.  In New England, a winning team already was in place.  They didn’t switch head coaches but they did start to lose key veteran players on the defensive side of the ball.  Still, the Patriots were able to rebuild their roster using contributing veterans on offense and defense to quell the changing tide to younger players.  New England already had Tom Brady to work with and a core of offensive players that could keep the team competitive while the defense developed.

In Miami it was a different story and a different approach.  The Dolphins gutted a 1-15 team that had zero stars or true veteran leaders.  To compound the issue, the age of the team was much older and they lacked any QB structure at all.   They had been through four head coaches in five years as well.  Bill Parcells took the approach to dismantle the roster and rebuild it.  It’s still being overhauled today.

Consider this final thought before you vote, had the Dolphins finished 7-9 in year one of Tony Sparano which many expected, would you still have the same view of him now?  The Dolphins overachieved two seasons ago with the addition of WC, something that Dan Henning seemed to have stuck with a little too long.  The Dolphins need continuity and Tony Sparano gives them that.  If in fact the mess on the field is not entirely his fault.  Still, when a team shows up for a game and looks lost, it’s hard not to point to the coaching.  It is after all their responsibility to make the team prepared.

So what do you think?

Number 53

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Tags: Dan Henning Fire Tony Sparano Miami Dolphins Tony Sparano Tony Sparano's Job On The Line

  • Fire them all!!!!


  • Steve Hoffart

    Tony, Tony, Tony.
    I have to say that I like the guy. His sometimes inept coaching confuses me a little though. It’s almost as though he never thought of the game from a strategic point of view.

    My real opinion is to give him another year. I’m excited and concerned about our offseason because I’m convinced that we need a new and dynamic Running Back. This past week’s loss further cemented my belief that Ronnie is finished, even though he only touched the ball 6 times he again hit every hole on his heels. I’m unfortunately not convinced that Ireland is prepared to spend the 1st rounder on a RB. Or draft a QB and look for a RB via trade or free agency.

    For this season I still believe the answer is simple. Even with a banged up O-line the Dolphins should be living and dying by the run game and specifically Ricky. I guarantee that if he gets 20 carries in a game, we win!!!


    • dhubs

      Tony Sparano will win a super bowl. He has the heart and desire to get it done. He commands respect and has the coaching ability to get the dolphins or any other organization to the top level. You can’t argue with the 11-5 start. They fight for every game. His players fight for him. His nickname in college as an offensive line coach at BU was “TS” which stands for Tough Shit. He wil get the job done. I belive in him for the long run. He will prove it eventually. He has hit some adversity but that is expected. Tony Sparano will be a super bowl coach, just wait.

  • phinion

    OK questions for all those who think Sparano should be fired:

    1 – Do you believe this is a Championship/SuperBowl caliber player filled Roster?

    2 – Do you Believe our Offense is as good as Indy, Saints or Philly?

    3 – Do you believe our Defense is capable of being the best in the league?

    4 – Do you believe that we have lost games because of bad coaching or do you believe the players have under performed?

    5 – What could Sparano have done to change any of that?

    Sparano isn’t the problem here and the case against Henning is pretty weak too!
    Henning isn’t dropping passes or getting penalties that offset big plays.
    Sparano isn’t missing those tackles in the secondary that lead to big gains and a high 3rd down conversion rate against.

    If you want to blame someone blame Ireland for playing musical chairs with the Roster. For not having enough depth on the OL. For not having another WR who can stop teams from double covering Marshall. For saddline the Roster with a backup QB who couldn’t last two plays before he got hurt again. For not having even one decent LT to fill in for Long!

    The team isn’t even close to being championship Caliber!
    Nothing Sparano could do would change that!
    We played pretty well against the toughest part of the schedule and then we had a ton of injuries vs Tenn that killed us because we managed to find some good starters but have not had the time to build the depth needed to be a champion yet!

    10 Years of Neglect can not be undone in two and a half years! Sorry reality bites!

    Give them at least another year to finish filling out the starter roles and hopefully while they do some of the guys who are current starters and are replaced will be kept as decent backups.

    The fans need to get their heads out of their “Win Now” Sphincter because ‘WIN NOW” is the reason we have “WON NEVER” in the past 30 years!

    • Bruce Lamb

      Good questions, but be sure to ask who put the roster together too……this regime did. So for you to say that this roster isn’t good enough to contend for a championship, can’t you in a sense blame the guys that wanted these players? Do you really think Sparano has absolutely no say in what players are on the team?

      • phinion

        No I don’t think Sparano has any say in who is on the team, at best he has a say in who plays but that decision is based on what he has to work with!

        Can you win when your choice is Jerry or McQuistan?
        Incognito or Procter?
        Berger and Ghiaciuc?
        Vernon Carey and NO ONE?

        Our third CB is Benny Sapp? does he scare anyone who is not a phin fan?

        The problem is that most fans all want to be Indy and the Saints. We are not built to be that! And anything short of that is not good enough for them!

        Well when they are prepared to mortgage a season or a draft to get a guy like Brees or Manning,
        When they are ready to hire Big time WRs,
        When they are prepared to give up on building a stout defense and put it all into offense they will have an offense that pleases them!

        And no defense which is why both Indy and the Saints are not leading their division anymore!

        Problem is most fans saw Marshall aquirred and thought pie high dreams of what this offense was going to look like.
        And now that reality has struck them in the face with a shovel they are demanding a pound of flesh to make them feel better for their foolishness!

        It’s not the coaching or the players that have disappointed the fans.
        It is the fact that the fantasy they all had doesn’t jive with reality!
        Took over 10 years to screw up this franchise and it is going to take a lot longer than 2.5 years to fix it!

        Even if you had the top 10 draft picks for 2 years straight it would take longer than that!

        This team is young and capable but there are still holes. Holes best filled via the draft!

        Everyone thinks the defense is good and why is that?
        because thats what we have focused on in the past three drafts.

        Is it done? Hardly! But it has enough playmakers to focus on making an offense via the draft that doesn’t have problems in the redzone!

        Another top WR threat and some OL depth and who knows maybe we even get a shot at a top QB too!

        But to start calling for people’s heads after all the heads that have come and gone here is not going to make us winners!

        The team needs to be rebuilt and we need to be patient enough to let someone get it done!

        Sparano is not drafting he is just using the guys we have as best as he can!

        Parcells and Ireland are the ones picking players and if you look at the guys who are playing well those are the guys they got!

        Why fire the guys who have had some success simply because they couldn’t change and fix the entire team in two drafts?

        That kind of thing only works on an XBox360 with Madden. Not the real world!

        • G8torlover

          Well said. This isn’t College football where you can change your whole team in 2 years with a couple of good recruiting classes. You MUST build through the draft and that takes time. You only get 7-10 picks a year, and even if you hit on 50% of them (which would make you an excellent talent evaluator in the NFL) that means 3-5 good players a year. We had a hole at EVERY position, save running back, when the Trifecta took over. We no longer have that many holes. It’s a process that takes time. We are better off now than we were three years ago.

          • phinion

            exactly G8!

            Look at the guys that have been brought in.

            Other than two or three misses the rest are mostly starting or contributing.

            the team has been competitive. Which means we are halfway there. i say let them finish what they started and if they do as well as they have so far we will soon be winning superbowls!

  • http://phinphantic Cliff

    I think Tony has done a great job. This team, when healthy, is competitive right now. We just need a few more pieces. Give Tony some time and the Dolphins will be contenders.We may struggle to finish this season, we may not, but give Tony more time.

  • Jimbo111

    The head coach’s job is on the line all the time, this is the NFL, and the coach serves at the pleasure of the owner. I’d keep him another year or 2, but I think we HAVE to do much better with drafts, and HENNING MUST GO. If Tony had any, Henning would go now, before the end of our season as he has been that bad.

  • phinatic13

    Well thats the problem he does not have a pair and personally dont want a head coach with that problem we need a haed coach with a big asssss pair hear that ROSS.

    • phinion

      What will a coach with a pair do to stop Marshall from dropping passes or nullifying completions?

      What will having a pair do to stop Henne from throwing INTs?

      Please this pair crap is just that!

  • Fishstix

    Lets give Tony some more time as the Dolphins continue to rebuild and revamp the roster. the oc should be replaced asap, Can’t believe whats happened to the run game.. GO PHINS

  • camdavid26

    As a long time Dolphin fan these are my thoughts as far as everything with this team. To me it’s clear Henning needs to go. He’s the oldest OC in the league and his playcalling shows that even if you didn’t know that. This offense is slow and way to predictable.

    Now as far as Sparano goes, I love the guy but I don’t think he is head coach material. Meaning he knows the game of football well but he’s not a guy the players can relate with. He’s better off going back to being an O-line coach. He kinda reminds me of a lot tougher version of Wade Phillips. I personally would love to see either Gruden or Cower.

    Now as far as the team roster goes, I’m fine with the defense but definitely need some changes on offense. It’s time to cut ties with Ronnie this offseason but we need to keep Ricky around. If Carolina let’s Williams walk I wouldn’t mind seeing us try to sign him rather then drafting a RB this year due to a week RB draft class. They also really need to decide what there going to do at QB. If Henne isn’t the answer then the QB issue needs to be addressed 1st round. Depending where we draft it needs to be Luck or Mallet. Doesn’t matter either way to me, I would like to see Henne another year with a new OC considering he’s only started 21 games. Another thing with the offense is they need elite speed. A versatile guy like Harvin, Bush, Jackson, Hester, etc. Not that all these guys are great but they all can change the game with 1 play and the defense would have to account for them which would only help Marshall and this offense. And not to mention what it would do for our terrible special teams game.

    No matter what though I love this team and will always support this team so GO PHINS!!!

    • G8torlover

      You are dreaming if you think we can get Luck. He’ll go #1. Actually, I think Luck, Mallet and Locker will all be gone by the 10th pick. Too many teams need a QB.