The reports out of Miami following yesterdays embarrassing conclusion is that Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is not ready to make the coaching change that fans are calling for. Whether that is the right decision or not belongs to Ross and Ross alone.
The Tony Sparano and eventually at least two thirds of the Bill Parcells regime will be gone at the conclusion of the season. Barring a miracle change of play that puts Miami back into the post-season picture (technically they could still finish with 10 wins) Sparano will be gone.
The topics over message boards for the last few weeks now appear to be over flowing to the mainstream media as last night on NBC’s televised game of the Colts and Saints, the topic turned to Miami’s eventual search for the next head guy, according to them, Bill Cowher tops the list of candidates.
That is contrary to a report two weeks ago that Jon Gruden, despite his new 5 year deal with ESPN was the top choice for Ross. Jeff Fisher, Brian Billick, and now even Urban Meyer are making rumor mill circulations.
As late as yesterday afternoon, talk of Sparano’s impending departure ran rampant from rabid fans who simply have had enough. Yet, Ross apparently has decided to wait it out. Right or wrong, the man in charge has to know that a coaching change simply won’t make a bad situation any better and simply appeasing the fan base in this situation really isn’t warranted.
I know, I know, that statement alone will cause the readers to go crazy. I know that our very own “Onole” is biting his bottom and upper lip with every passing day that Sparano is still here. Reality however may dictate differently and truth be told, the options are not necessarily better.
Stephen Ross flew to the west coast following yesterdays game for non-football business. After the flack that Ross took for his off-season handling of the maligned flirtation with Jim Harbaugh, it would not be prudent or publicly smart to fire Sparano by telephone.
Two trains of thought persist here from the media and the fan base but not necessarily within the organization. Attempts to clarify or dig out a little info last night from my own sources turned up nothing as no one is really in a position to “know” what the thoughts of Stephen Ross are…at least no one who will openly discuss it either publicly or off the record. Regardless of what others may actually claim.
I will say this once, o.k., I probably will say this more than once. Anyone saying they have knowledge from a source do not. Ross confides in only a few people and they are not going to betray that trust. So when you hear it or read it, take it as “speculation” by those sources.
The first thought process seems to lean towards the concept of finding a suitable replacement. A major portion of the teams woes and perhaps the most surprising element of this team resides on the defense where two interim candidates are positioned. Assistant head coach Todd Bowles and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
Do either give Miami a real chance to turn the attitude around? A year ago man believed that Nolan was a logical next step but the failures of the team under his supervision this year has left everyone in doubt. The same could be said about Bowles.
On the offensive side of the ball, OC Brian Daboll and QB coach Karl Dorrell are the only real candidates and neither possess a real upgrade over Sparano. The fact that the top four candidates are really non-options at this point, keeping Sparano may be the only real option. Keeping the status-quo is far from a popular choice but given the alternatives, it could be viewed as a logical one.
Another popular thought, more generated by fans and a couple of local beat guys is that leaving Sparano in place provides the Dolphins the best chance at total failure. Thus leaving the Dolphins in a position to draft Andrew Luck. The so-called “fail safe savior” of this franchise.
It’s a theory that I do not subscribe to.
To me, and this is nothing more than an informed opinion, the best course of action is to leave things the way they are right now. I know it’s not popular and it contradicts what I said yesterday regarding Sparano’s immediate future. Still, I can’t help but like Sparano. I think he is in a bad situation for far more reasons that simply being 0-6.
Sparano works hard and to be honest, from what I have been told he works harder than any coach since Don Shula. Yet he balances public perception at every turn. Sparano should have been fired after last season if that was the plan of Ross but Ross made that mistake and it’s time to move on. Sparano has been saddled too long with a team that really is not his mold but that of Ireland’s and Parcells. He spent his first three seasons with Parcells’ own little puppet Dan Henning. In other words, this year was the first year it was actually Tony’s team and the fact that the Ireland spent his off-season working on keeping his own rear off the hot seat did Sparano no favors.
That is not making excuses by any means. Sparano, despite his hard work is not showing growth as a head coach and he seems to be regressing at times to old ways. His fist pumps are long gone as being the joke they became and not have become a calling card to fans’ disgust with the team. Yesterday provided more opportunities for fans to embark the “get rid of Sparano” train.
The two point conversion attempt still has people scratching their heads although had it succeeded the Dolphins would have won the game…or at least forced Denver into two, two point conversion attempts. But it failed miserably. Add to that the poor use of clock management and time outs and the issues surrounding Sparano are clear. The team does not respond to him.
For all the support talk from the roster the truth is that these Miami Dolphins do not know how to win and that is a reflection on the coach and what ultimately will define Sparano’s tenure in Miami which has declined each year.
In a way it’s only fitting that Sparano who came to Miami following a disaster 1-15 season may see out the Parcells’ era with a similar failure. The fans are no longer waiting to offer up coaching solutions for next season and the popular choices of firing everyone is the weight bearing logic for a proud fan base who have simply had enough.
Sparano is no longer on the immediate, this week, hot seat unless somewhere between Miami and the west coast Ross changes his mind. The options are not much better. With 10 weeks remaining before real changes take place, all fans can do is sit by and watch the team fall further and further from what it once was and speculate on who should be the next person in line to change this team and get them back to their winning ways.