The Ireland Sparano Conundrum

The Miami Dolphins flirted a few short months ago with replacing head coach Tony Sparano.  It was rumored that Jeff Ireland, the teams general manager would also find his rear on the hot seat soon enough as well if the team didn’t start turning it around.   In the end, Stephen Ross had egg on his face, Jeff Ireland was pulling his best “Black Swan” routine around the coaching fiasco, and Tony Sparano had a 2 year extension.

Then, the lockout hit.

Many fans and members of the media believed that regardless of the extensions handed out, both were still on a short leash moving forward through the 2011 season.  Ross’ infatuation with the celebrity lifestyle seemed to point more towards a future date with someone like John Gruden or Bill Cowher than allowing the ride to continue much longer with Sparano and Ireland.  Especially if the teams offense woes continued.  Ross said that he wanted an exciting offense but has since refined those thoughts to a “good product” instead.  Maybe he learned something from his “we are going to go to the Super Bowl” comments last year or his “Chad Henne will be a Hall of Famer” comment.

While Ross may seem a little wishy-washy, let’s remember this is still only his first full calendar year as “THE” boss, what the future holds for his two top guys will remain uncertain.  The lockout may or may not have an affect on that outcome.  Poll on page 2.

If many believed that Sparano, Ireland, or both were on the hot seat depending on their 2011 performance, the fact that teams are not practicing and no one can contact anyone else makes you wonder if that hot seat will cool when the reality of expectations set in.  The Dolphins have a very tough schedule this year facing their own division and the NFC East division as well.  They also play the AFC West as well.  Add to that the addition of a new offensive coordinator in Brian Daboll, a new system that supposedly is a far cry from the Dan Henning open book offense, new faces on the offensive side of the ball, and what will be a revamped line, it’s hard to imagine that if the season doesn’t get underway soon, teams like the Dolphins are going to struggle in divisions where at least two teams are seasoned with contracted veterans.  The Jets and Patriots in Miami’s case.

The expectations for Sparano to turn the team around are enormous but in the end, if the lockout doesn’t end until sometime in July or August, thus eliminating the entire off-season mini-camp programs, will Stephen Ross fire his HC for the lack of efficiency and offensive improvement or is this a level of football that shouldn’t need those off-season activities to make relative.  In other words, is training camp sufficient time for them to coach up the team?

Another aspect of this is the fact that Ross is one of the 32 NFL owners and thus in some way is responsible for the fact that players are not meeting with coaches, the GM’s are not signing new contracts, and no one is practicing.  So where does Tony Sparano fit into all of this?

Are their jobs still on ice regardless of the lockout or does the lockout buy them another year no matter what?

Do you think the Dolphins should hire Rob Chudzinksi as their next OC?

View Results

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Topics: Brian Daboll, Dan Henning, Jeff Ireland, Miami Dolphins, NFL Lockout, NFLPA, Stephen Ross, Tony Sparano

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  • Shula knows

    Sporano is a losser.

    how many 7-9 seasons do we have to endure?

    Every other team is going through the same work stopage situation.

    Let’s stop making excuses for those that are considered “professional”.

    Sporano is a glorified offensive line coach who was promoted as Parcell’s puppet.

  • Brian Miller

    actually, the Dolphins are going through a lot more than other teams, say the Pats and the Jets who have a locked in starting QB’s and established offensive coordinators that are not teaching a new system. In addition, they have proven veteran leaders on their offenses and their defenses whereas the Dolphins really do not. The effect the lockout will have on teams like the Dolphins over teams like the Patriots will be huge if this isn’t ended soon.

  • Ranadicus

    The expectations for a team that was 1-15 3 years ago are absurd. Rebuilding with youth takes time, end of story. I don’t want to see Sparano get run out of Miami the same way Dungy got run out of Tampa a year too soon.

  • Matthew

    Ireland’s draft was solid, and the team constantly appears motivated. The problems last year came down to more middle line play, inconstant play from QB, and MISERABLE play calling.

    Henning is gone. Hopefully Daboll (sic?) can invigorate the offense, even with the limited preparation. Ireland addressed the middle-line issues with Pouncey, and hopefully we will sign a G (or center) in free agency as well. A stronger running game–plus more dangerous YAC options on Henne’s one strong suit, the check-down pass, in Thomas, Gates and the TE/HB–should help Henne settle down and fulfill his potential for better or worse.

    To me the real question here is not Ireland or Sparano. It’s Daboll and Henne. Do we have a young up and comer at OC…or a nobody? He has been exposed to a lot of innovative football minds. We appear to have most of the tools an offense needs (if Henne can improve and we either find a scatback or Kory Sheets can step up).

    If things don’t go well with Henne, next year’s draft will include Luck, Laundry Jones and Barkley, plus 2-4 other names that could rise (if only Kellen Moore were 2 inches taller and less Marino-like RUNNING with the football!).

    Either way, I hope Ireland/Sparano get two more years. That is a reasonable and fair time to see this team either rise up or fail.

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