If the team was winning...these moves would be genius

The Miami Dolphins Blame Game: Stephen Ross

What he does now will define him as an owner

There are a lot of fingers being pointed at different targets from fans and media.  Someone is to blame for the 0-4 start but who?  Is it one person who is responsible for the continued failure of this franchise or is it a group effort of people that shouldn’t actually be in charge of this franchise?  Additionally, if we are quick to place blame then who is the person or persons responsible for fixing it?

Over the next few days I will take a look at those who bare the weight of the blame for this franchises failures.  Jeff Ireland, Tony Sparano, Bill Parcells, and today, Stephen Ross…the man who ultimately is tasked with fixing it.  It’s not an easy solution although some will and have argued that the basic cause of this misery is simply bad decision making.  While I will not try and paint a company line picture, it bares mentioning that I don’t see fault in some areas as other do.  Your job is to comment and fuel the debate in our comments section.

The blame game:  Stephen Ross  Stephen Ross took over the Miami Dolphins from former owner Wayne Huizenga.  He inherited Bill Parcells and his enormous guaranteed salary.  Ross’ only option in his first year was to retain the football czar and thus his staff as well.  The Dolphins were coming off a 11-5 season and a playoff birth it was smart business.  The problems for Ross began when Parcells began to waffle on his desire to stay in Miami.  Eventually, Ross convinced Parcells to stay and while Parcells would stick around, he eventually assigned himself to the team as an adviser rather than full and final say.  That was turned over to Jeff Ireland.

Ross allowed Ireland to continue in his role following the final departure of Parcells.  It was a smart move.  Ireland is a young executive who really had not time to show what he could or could not do in the role of GM as he served more as a Parcells’ puppet for the two years prior.  Ross was smart in this move.  He had Ireland calling the team shots and Mike Dee overseeing the football side of the operation.  He was able to be an owner.

Ross has several black eyes on his Miami Dolphins resume.  The most obvious one being the Jim Harbaugh flirtation last year and the way he handled Tony Sparano.  The reality is the Dolphins never publicly stated they were interested in Harbaugh and to this day there is no proof that they actually flew to California specifically to meet with him or for that matter that they did meet with him.  The Dolphins maintain that the trip was for other business.  Still it was enough to really upset the status quo in Miami.

Ross however gets a very bad rap over his non-football moves and this is where I think the blame really should stops.  In fact, I don’t blame Ross for this mess aside from the way he straddled the coaching issue last year.  What he should have done was either fired Sparano and then flirted with other coaches or retained him from day one.  Still, Ross’ biggest slap comes from the fans and media when they start talking about all the “bling” around the stadium.

Ross made headlines when he took on a slew of celebrity owners.  From Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony to the Williams’ sisters, Fergie, and Gloria Estephan.  It was viewed by many as a waste.  Then there was the “orange carpet” roll out for the celebrity visitors on game day, Club Liv on the club level of the stadium, and the profound monetary impact on what he was doing around the stadium to make the experience outside the stadium more impacted.

To me, this is unjust and unwarranted blame.  First, the feel of game day outside the stadium is festive as well it should be.  The fact is this, no one would be talking about any of this negatively if the product on the field was winning.  In fact, it would be viewed in a completely different light.  Ross has spent a lot of his own money to build the non-football entertainment of the franchise.  He has stayed out of the football operations side something that fans hoped he would do when he took over.  To put it plainly, you can’t have it both ways.  Ross is doing a great job of making the venue an experience despite the play on the field.

Those who say that Ross should stop spending money on non-football areas and spend it on the team are simply uninformed.  He does both.  He allows what other owners allow, his football guys to make the football decisions.

In Ross’ short term with Miami he has had a holdover in Bill Parcells, stayed the course with Jeff Ireland after Parcells left two weeks prior to the start of last season, and has watched his team fall from first to worst in three years.  Aside from his off-season actions of a year ago (the Harbaugh issue), Ross really holds little blame for what the team has put on the field.  For two years he opened his wallet and allowed Ireland to spend at will, this year, reports state that he pulled the strings a little tighter and made it known that he didn’t want money to be spent without frugal ideology first.  He did not, despite public opinion tell the team not to spend money…according to a person I spoke with from the NFL.

Ross’ first football decision will come during the course of this season.  Either during or at the end of the regular season.  He will be forced to make his own statement on the team.  Will he fire Tony Sparano?  Will he fire Jeff Ireland?  Will he fire both?  What coaching change will he make and who will he ultimately task with turning the team around?  So far, he has peddled on the past that was left to him from Wayne Huizenga.  Ultimately, he is the singular person to change it.

Stephen Ross will rely on his close personal friend former KC Chiefs GM Carl Peterson.  While Peterson will not likely take on an official role with the team there is no denying the trust that Ross has in his opinion.  With Peterson not have a viable stake or a job to protect with the Dolphins, it’s likely to be a solid thought out process of determining the future road the team takes.

Ross should, in my opinion, continue to make the game day events incredible for the fans who attend.  He should continue to promote the celebrity side of the game.  The fact is whether you want to believe it or not, Ross is an owner that fans would traditionally want to preside over their team.  He opens his wallet to the GM to buy players and he stays out of the decision making on that side of the business.

This year, Ross will have to make a football decision and a business decision.  This is the year that Ross has to stand up and take responsibility for what is out on that field, coaching or otherwise.  From here moving forward, the final blame will solely belong to the decisions that Ross makes or doesn’t make.  From here moving forward, this is Ross’ team and his decisions to either retain his current staff or replace them will define him as the Dolphins owner moving forward and not someone who inherited someone else’s mistakes…again, the Jim Harbaugh issue aside.


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Tags: Bill Parcells Jeff Ireland Jim Harbaugh Miami Dolphins Stephen Ross Tony Sparano

  • libman.robert1

    Ross has to take control with the help of a football professional..The big two is time to go. Parcell gone, Parcell was a bust..To Old..Croward to old past his prime.. Coach got to go.. Maybe you keep GM..Now as a builder you have to re-build the org..Block by block..Start with the best QB that you can get from the draft..then you can build person by person..There are some good talent already…Build Build Build..

  • fins4ever

    @libman.robert1 Agree on Parcells, but that is it. No way should they keep Ireland. They need to clean house while possibly keeping Nolan. That is it.

    Disagree on “Cowher” being too old. That is just silly! If age mattered, then Josh McDaniels would have a SB ring.

    Agree on getting a QB. If they don’t FINALLY draft a QB in round 1 next year, I will be lividly upset!

  • mscout99

    Wow…..just wow. This is a puff piece of epic proportions that you normally see in politics.

    Ross sets the culture……if you’re throwing a party on the outside of the stadium, but the product on the field is lousy, what about this is smart business? Miami is coming off of two 7-9 seasons, and is on pace for a worse season now. If this was a winning strategy, then the Dolphins wouldn’t have to worry about home games getting blacked out. Fans could care less about that crap.

    Ross doesn’t have to be the smartest football guy in the world, but good owners find smart and experienced people to fill in the gaps. Keeping Ireland and screwing up the Sparano-Harbaugh situation shows how little he knows. He also continued to pay Parcells while the only thing in the Tuna’s office was his stationery.

    Finally, I have to say I just don’t buy the line about speaking to an NFL source claiming Ross DIDN’T quash Ireland from spending more money. Miami could have paid Garrard his $1.2 million to try and salvage the season, because Matt Moore is awful. Also, look at the upgrades Miami missed out on after getting Reggie Bush. You missed out on a slew of good receivers to upgrade Brian Hartline, anyone could have been better than Marc Columbo, the strong safety position went untouched, and signing Sage Rosenfells is mind boggling. Does this sound like good football business?

  • mscout99

    @[email protected] Keep Nolan? What about the defense’s performance shows that Nolan deserves to stay?

  • mscout99

    @[email protected] Our needs aren’t at QB. Henne played well enough for the team to at least be 2-2, even with the defense sucking so bad. Miami needs a receiver in the worst way. Marshall hasn’t been cutting it, and Hartline is worse. I love Bess because he busts his butt on every play, but he’s a slot receiver. I’d love to see Miami get Justin Blackmon from Oklahoma State or Dwight Jones from North Carolina. Big play receivers who catch everything thrown their way. Mohammed Sany from Rutgers would also be a huge upgrade.

  • Phinphanatic

    First, thanks for the comment, second let’s look at it. This is not about Jeff Ireland or Marc Columbo or Reggie Bush. This is about Steve Ross, I will do Ireland later. Assume what you want regarding the source but the only thing I was told that Ross said is he didn’t want to simply spend to spend and told Ireland to make sure that he simply didn’t go out and buy anything for the sake of names. The Dolphins still have 10 mill.

    This is not about Ross making a decision on Rosenfelds…again that is Ireland. As for Bill Parcells, Ross had no choice as Parcells’ contract was 100 percent guaranteed regardless of whether he worked, golfed, or went back to the studio. Ross inherited that contract from Huizenga. So no blame on Ross there.

    As for the stuff going on outside the stadium, I simply disagree. Making the fan experience great is what all owners should be doing and so few actually take the time to do. The fact that the product on the field sucks is why everyone is in such a tiz over it. Again that falls on Ross to put guys in the position of making good football decisions. The ONLY thing I blame Ross for at this point as it relates to the team was his handling of Sparano as I think he should have fired him then as opposed to going through the search process prior to. He is a new owner and made a mistake but he would still have been committed to Ireland for this year as he was not on the chopping block.

    As I said, I will be doing more of these so feel free to counter when I do Ireland.

  • fins4ever

    @[email protected] Miami needs a QB now more than I can ever remember. Agree, they could be 2-2. Henne won’t be back. Makes no sense. Disagree on Hartline. Not sure which games you been watching. Marshall is a bust that we will never recoup even a partial of the investment. Let Moore and Wallace play.

    Agree on a big WR. The receivers are starting to look like basketball players going up for a rebound. Is Shaq available? lol

  • fins4ever

    @[email protected] You might be right, but I think all of the injuries give him a pass. That and Jeff didn’t get him any help. Aside from that, we know what Nolan is capable of and at least we would not be starting COMPLETELY over.

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  • mscout99

    @Phinphanatic Fans care MORE about the product on the field than the orange carpet or Club Liv. Ross can show he’s actually committed to winning by stopping with the circus act crap outside and be active to improve what’s going on on the field.

    Right now, the organization, not just the players on the field, isn’t built to win football games. Ireland and Sparano deserve their fair share of blame along with the rest of the coaching staff and quite a few players, but organizationally, the Dolphins are a MESS. And you can only pass the buck for so long without realizing that Ross ISN’T committed to winning. If he was, he wouldn’t have pussyfooted around with Harbaugh and would have made the change. $10 million is an awful lot to have sitting there when you have a season to salvage, and Ross just doesn’t really seem to be interested in winning.

  • Phinphanatic

    @mscout99 Again, if this team were winning everyone would be applauding Ross for the decisions of what he is doing outside of the stadium. It should also be noted that the money he spends on the improvements and stadium stuff does NOT come from what is spent on the team. That is part of the stadium side of the business and completely separate and budgeted for. So keep that in mind as the perception is he is taking money away from the team to play dance party on the stadium mall and that is not the case.

    As for the team, yes he needs to be accountable. I give him a pass on his mistake last year with Harbaugh because he is a new full time owner and he made a mistake. He treated it like every other business decision…you find your replacement before you fire the guy you have…in football it’s a lot different…he knows that now.

    That all being said, if after the season is over he does nothing then it’s all on him. How you can say that he isn’t committed to winning is beyond me as he has only been the full time owner for 2 seasons and the Dolphins were one of the biggest spending teams last season. Personally, if I owned this team and had 10 mill to spend right now, I would be extremely reluctant to use that money. There simply isn’t anyone out there right now worth 10 mill and frankly at this point it wouldn’t make a difference anyways.

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