The ride home from Miami after a game is long. It’s even longer after a loss. This past weekend the Miami Dolphins lost yet another ugly game to the only team they have never beaten. The Houston Texans. How ugly was the game? When your sure footed kicker misses two FG’s from inside the 40, it’s going to be a long afternoon. I can also tell you that the sun compounds the agony of losing quite a bit as well.
After leaving the stadium we tuned in to a local AM sports radio show. Never got the call letters or hosts name but I can tell you that nothing that came out of his mouth was positive. I can also tell you that his opinions were not merrily the result of a loss but instead over the way the team was playing, being coached, and being outplayed.
He pointed out the fact that over the last 12 home games, the Dolphins have won one. ONE. He pointed out that his faith in the front office of Jeff Ireland has yielded little more than money being spent from Stephen Ross’ pockets. He ripped Ross for allowing this team to become a celebrity side show and Mike Dee for just about everything else. Then it was Sparano’s turn.
He started with the offensive line and never really let up. A quick stop at a gas station in West Palm Beach yielded a conversation with an area local who said that the host wasn’t the only one thinking that way. He said that Miami media is ready to go in for the kill any moment. Some take a higher road he said but most if not all are ready to throw in the towel on everyone associated with Ireland, Sparano, and Stephen Ross.
I suppose everything starts at the top and works it’s way down.
Stephen Ross took over the team for Wayne Huizenga who many felt was a horrible owner. Mr. H’s main problem was his decisions of who he brought in to run the team and who he listened to in order to make those decisions. Mr. H. was not a football guy and left the team to be run by the GM/HC. Ross however immediately took to the celebrity wagon adding minority partners to the team, running an “orange carpet” walk of fame into the stadium, and a waffling aura of not being able to make a decision on the football side of the business. Ross is a business owner and he needs to stay on that side of the field. Let the football people do the football work. For the most part he stays out of it but his love affair with the celebrity side of the business gives the perception that it’s more important than the football side.
Mike Dee is taking heat for a lot of things. In Boston the man turned around a Red Sox fan base and filled the stadium. His game events sparked fans into action to attend games and it improved the cheering crowds towards the team. In Miami however, Dee does not have the 81 home games to work with. He has 8. So far he has done nothing to win the attention of a disgruntled fan base. For all the pomp and circumstance outside the stadium, it’s a dire unenthusiastic crowd inside. As CEO of the team, it’s his job to find a way to get people back into their seats.
Thus far his attempts to put bodies in the seats have been met with skepticism. Consider the Florida Gator fiasco. It should be noted that the Dolphins did reach out to honor the Miami Hurricanes and were told no. Dee is trying to come up with ways to sell tickets but unfortunately until there is a product on the field that fans want to cheer for he is paddling upstream.
Jeff Ireland is the man in charge and thus far his decisions are not exactly rising the masses to their feet. Karlos Dansby was heralded as a great pick-up but has yet to make a major statement. His love affair with former Cowboy players is becoming a Saturday Night Live skit, and his inability to add players that consistently perform for other teams is putting Tony Sparano at a disadvantage before he walks onto the field. Ireland doesn’t seem to be taking much blame these days. At least not in the mainstream media but that will change if and when Sparano loses his job. Top available coaches are not likely going to come to Miami with a GM already in place. In other words, it’s very possible that if Tony goes Jeff goes.
Tony Sparano seems to have the water rising around him with every passing game. If it’s not a bad timeout or a bad play call, it’s a decision like Sunday to punt with 8 minutes left in the game and losing rather than go for a first down on 4th and 1. It’s the inability to step in and get the right personnel in the game such as Will Allen over Nolan Carroll. It also goes without saying that the players on the team are his responsibility. His decisions to keep players like Austin Spitler over AJ Edds and the on again off again relationship with Larry Johnson is growing tiresome.
The play of the offensive line is now a running side show that is trending towards absurd. Sparano’s inability to fix the one area of the team he was supposedly a genius at is ridiculous. The Dolphins can’t win if they can’t score. They can’t score if they can’t run. They can’t run if they can’t pass. All of that is reliant on the offensive line play. It’s horrendous.
There have been only two games played this year in what is a long season. The Dolphins have time to turn this around and make a run for the playoffs. It’s far too early to throw in the towel or assume that the team will eventually lose faith and dissension in the locker room will take over and force Stephen Ross to make huge changes. It is however, not too soon for the Dolphins to lose their fan base more than what they have already. Too many fans opting to watch the game elsewhere or not at all is already creating issues for the teams home field advantage. Of course the team actually winning at home is a major issue as well.
There are a lot of questions that are not answered after two games. Instead, there are many more questions that are being asked.