Jeff Ireland has had his name dragged through the mud. Sometimes, as in the case of Dez Bryant’s mother, it’s been justifiable. At others, such as the drafting of Pat White, not so much. The truth is that Ireland has been living in the shadow of Bill Parcells since his arrival 3 seasons ago from Dallas. Now, with his first draft facing him in the face without the “Tuna”, Ireland is going to try and put a definitive “Ireland” touch to his Miami Dolphins.
What kind of team that is or what kind of player/s that will be, is up to the imagination. At least until April.
Ireland spoke with the media today in Indianapolis as the NFL Combine kicked off. Is what he said really what the team is looking for or is it simply a cover to mask what his real intentions are?
Ireland will operate for the first time on his own in his entire career. The choices that Ireland make in the draft and any off-season spending allowed by the league, will change the team and it’s direction. Ireland has repeatedly said that he will take into consideration what his coaches and his collegiate scouts will say but in the end, the final decision will be his and his alone. As will the responsibility and the fan perception.
Here are few things that Ireland touched on today at the Combine.
Speed - Ireland said that over the past three years the team has not really focused on speed and that this year he realizes the need to add speed options to his roster. Both defensively and offensively it is assumed. The Dolphins under the watch of Bill Parcells drafted and signed players who fit a prototype physicality that meshed with the Bill Parcellian theme of what a football player should be. Speed was not one of those mandated abilities.
If Ireland wants to add speed there will be options in both the draft and in free agency if/when it starts. The draft has not outright speed burners like the previous two drafts but that doesn’t mean that a few guys will turn some heads. In fact, it’s likely that borderline players on the Dolphins radar could finally jump a spot or two on their big board with fast 40 times.
“We’ve addressed so many foundation positions, offensive line, defensive line, in the past, and we really need to focus on getting some faster players on the field,” he said.
QB - Ireland did not discount the need to add a signal caller and while he didn’t go into any specifics, he did say that Chad Henne is the 2011 starter, for now. An indication that the bottom line will be a competition in training camp to find the teams opening starter. Who that would be at this point is conjecture. The biggest question surrounding the Dolphins QB and whether or not that will be Chad Henne is in the hands of new OC Brian Daboll. He will work closely with Ireland and HC Tony Sparano to find the right fit for the team and it’s new schemes.
IN regards to Tyler Thigpen, the team is waiting to see what shakes out of the CBA. Rules in the new CBA could make Thigpen a restricted free agent. Ireland said only that the team would likely keep Thigpen for one year in that case but that if he is a UFA they will let him walk.
Wake – Ireland said that the team is starting contract extension talks with the agent for Cameron Wake but nothing has come close.