The Miami Dolphins say they are prepared to enter an uncharted free agency period. The Dolphins also have been extremely busy since the draft ended focusing on the inevitable free agent market, their team needs, and their own free agents. They have a new OC in Brian Daboll and have been fined by the league for allowing Daboll to meet with QB Chad Henne in the month leading up to the lockout. It’s what allowed Henne to start the installation of the new offense to his teammates through the entire off-season player only workouts that he and Jake Long organized.
The Miami Dolphins did all of these things but the one thing they couldn’t do was work out with Head Coach Tony Sparano who for all intent and purposes is still on the hot seat.
It seems like so long ago that Stephen Ross was flying across the country to woo Jim Harbaugh away from Stanford. So long ago that Miami fans felt glued to a flurry of mis-reported rumors…some generated from yours truly, so long ago that it seemed there was no way that the 3 year HC was going to keep his job. Then, we sat through a very uncomfortable press conference with Ross, Jeff Ireland, and Tony Sparano to announce that he had signed an extension and got a raise.
So long ago indeed.
Poll after the jump.
With the free agent market set to open, Jeff Ireland will roll up his sleeves and try and get the best players on the team to support his head coach. If that fails, it won’t be Ireland’s head on the chopping block, it will be Sparano’s.
The question is should Sparano be in career limbo after an off-season that basically crippled his ability to prepare his team for the 2011 season?
No mini-camps, no one on one meetings with his rookie’s. No trips to the weight room to give a few butt pats and good jobs. Nothing. In fact with the exception of a couple of charity events and the Jim Mandich tribute, Sparano hasn’t spoken with nary a player in 4 months…at least not legally.
Around the NFL owners are all going to be faced with the same issues, especially with teams who’s coaches entered the season on the bubble. Some teams made changes this year and may very well suffer in 2011 because of it. Consider the San Francisco 49′ers. They did lure Harbaugh from Stanford and he has no contact with anyone from his team. While the 49′ers may fail in Harbaugh year one, he is hardly on the hot seat regardless of what is going on with the NFL and the labor unrest.
Sparano however doesn’t have that luxury.
Sparano is still expected to turn a dissappointing 2009 and 2010 team into a contender again. He is still expected to fix the QB position, doing so with uncertanty on the offensive line, a rookie RB with his two previous starters all but assured of leaving, all the while trying to figure out how to best utilize an offensive system that is supposedly a far cry from the Dan Henning system.
And he has about one month to get it all together before he squares off against his number 1 division rival. The New England Patriots. Who for all intent and purposes is the same team as last year and expected to challenge again this year for a birth in the AFC Championship game.
This basically writes the wall to say that the odds are stacked against the Miami Dolphins head coach and it could be an ugly season. But does that mean that Sparano should remain on the proverbial hot seat, or does this lockout mess give him a pass?