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Dolphins Ross Not To Blame

Sure, the Miami Dolphins owner is not a popular figure in Miami right now.  In fact, he may never actually be a beloved owner that is embraced by the fans.  I mean how can any fan truly get behind an owner who’s place of residence is actually in New York?  Yet for all the shortcomings that fans are quick to point out, Stephen Ross is not the party responsible for this mess that his team is in.

He is the one responsible for fixing it.

This is a very touchy subject among Dolphins fans.  There are those who see it one way and those that see it another and very few people lie in the middle of the road on this one.  You are either right and the other is wrong.  So with that being said, it’s even more difficult to find a way to write an unbiased piece on the subject.  Especially without pointing to one side or the other and not saying “you are wrong”.

So I won’t try.  I won’t try and be unbiased, I won’t try and play both sides.  I am right and if you see things differently then you are wrong.  There, it’s established.  In the comments we can debate this from side to side until we are blue in the face.  I will say this again…

Stephen Ross is not responsible for this mess.  The caveat to that statement?  The word “yet”.

I will not pretend that any of you are Jets fans and therefore I will not pretend that you are stupid so I won’t bother trying to convince those of you who are on the other side that you are wrong based on my own opinion.  While I may very well intercede some of my thoughts into this, I will more closely stay on the side of facts.

When Ross became the full owner of this team he immediately took responsibility for the Bill Parcells guaranteed salary.  In other words, he was stuck either paying the man to do work or paying the man to quit.  In the end, Parcells did both and Ross paid.

Parcells’ made this mess and he is nowhere to be seen with a broom in hand.  Jeff Ireland runs the football side of things and Tony Sparano runs the team.  The arguments begin in earnest there.  Why did Ross not fire Ireland and Sparano following last years season?

It’s a valid argument and honestly, there is zero defending Ross for his handling of Sparano back in January.  Ross would have been better off firing Sparano then and Sparano would have been better off not having to endure the embarrassment that is the 2011 season.  While Ross didn’t make a change then, it’s hardly a reason we got this far in the first place.  It was a build up that began before Ross stepped foot into an ownership role.

Aside from the above mentioned Harbaugh/Sparano incident, the perception from the average fan is that Ross cares more about celebrity style and dance clubs and all the pomp on the outside of the stadium rather than the product itself.  And that is a very bad misconception.

Ross’ dabbling in minority ownership has nothing to do with the team.  It has nothing to do with the coaches, general manager, or the players.  It’s funded entirely out of the stadium side of things.  The Club Liv experience is part of the stadium money.  That money doesn’t go to the team it stays at the stadium and the surrounding area.

So the perception that Ross is robbing from Peter to play around with Paul or Paulette as the case may be is simply misguided.  If you wish to argue that the additions are causing a distraction…then maybe you have the start of an argument.

The reality is this when it comes to Ross spending money at the stadium.  He is spending money to make the fan experience better from the one area that he has total control over.  Fans want an owner who stays the hell out of the football business and so far Ross has done just that.  He let’s the football guys run the football side and he plays with the stadium side.

Before you start talking about Club Liv understand this, Ross has plans designed to add seats that will put fans closer to the field.  The implementation process is a few years away as they work on the design aspects but the first hurdle to getting it done was the Marlin departure of the stadium.  Something that is now in the past.

Another argument that is bringing misguided opinions is the talk that Ross specifically said to Jeff Ireland, “don’t spend any money on free agents”.  That was not what was said and to be honest it was poor journalistic integrity on the part of the writers who said that.  What did happen was Ross said that he didn’t want to simply over-spend on free agents without a plan.

If memory serves correctly, and I am sure that you all will agree, Ireland has basically spent whatever he has wanted in the free agent market.  He and Bill Parcells spent a ton of money on players that have yet to really have a positive impact on the team.  Karlos Dansby and Brandon Marshall come to mine.

Know this about Steve Ross, he did not put his foot down and say “do not spend”.  He only said spend responsibly and make it count.  I have this information on a good source and I believe that it is accurate.  The truth is Ross has never told the team not to spend in the year and 6 games he has been here. 

The other information that recently came to light was that Ross was the one who nixed the trade for Kyle Orton.  While I can not confirm that specifically, there is two ways to look at that.  One, Ross was right, Orton wanted to get paid as a big time starter and Ross didn’t see it.  If so, he was a smart man to nix that deal.  The second part of that is if in fact he did intervene with that deal, then he has little faith in GM Jeff Ireland and if that is the case, Ireland could be on his way out as well.

The Dolphins hosted the Broncos on Sunday and they did so to a barrage of cat calls in support of Tim Tebow.  In essence the Miami Dolphins home field was transformed into a home field for the Broncos.  This however was not the work of Stephen Ross but instead the idea of CEO Mike Dee.  Who seriously needs his head examined.

The Dolphins need to sell tickets and part of Dee’s job with the team is finding ways to get people into the seats.  Dee is CEO of the team but is on the business side and not the football side.  At least not in the context of personnel.  So the money he spends is from the revenue on the other side of the biz as well.

Ross needs to find his direction and he needs to start realizing that fan perception, right or wrong, will have long lasting effect on the mind of a fan.  While fans, myself included, were livid at the site of Ross smiling while talking to Urban Meyer late in the fourth quarter, the other side of that coin is that when he left the owners box to head to the locker room, the team was up 15 to zero.  Ross stopped to watch the rest of the game and Meyer and he started talking.

Let’s be real here for a second.  Jerry Jones has been caught smiling in his owners box while his team was getting crushed on the field, a few weeks ago on a national stage, Vikings owner was caught laughing and having a good time while his team on the field was getting beat.  All owners do it at some time or another.  I’m more upset at the sight of Brandon Marshall laughing it up then Ross surrendering a smile.

I would not say that I am a fan of Stephen Ross.  He has yet to demonstrate to me what his intentions are.  Is he going to be the kind of owner who butts out and let’s his football guys run the dailies or will he be the kind of owner who meddles with everything?

I suppose we will find out soon enough as the team now belongs to him entirely and the mess he has inherited is now going to have it’s tax collected by the fans.  What is far more important than what Ross has done in his short one season and 6 games as majority owner is far less a concern than what he will do when the next 10 games are played out and put into the books.

That is when Ross will begin to saddle the blame for this team.  He will be the sole responsible party for the head coach, the GM, the football czar if he goes in that direction.  Every move he makes is now his.  The embarrassment on the field is only his to fix.

The truth is, fans view Ross as a fame whore and maybe he is.  Reality tells us that we don’t know yet exactly what kind of owner Ross will actually be because until now he hasn’t had to make the football decisions.  That has been the job of those he inherited.  Ross can’t however hide behind that anymore.  Not now.  Not after he watched his team become the first team since 1970 to give up 15 points in under 4 minutes to end a game in regulation.

Ross should be embarrassed by what transpired on Sunday and it should shake any reservations he may have to making a coaching change.  Yet Ross is a business man first and foremost and he is going to finish out this season making business decisions and not simply shoot from the hip.

The arguments being made against Ross are really nothing more than wanting culpability from the owner, someone else to blame because frankly, you are tired of blaming Ireland, Sparano, and Parcells.  You want a new target.

Ross may very well end up becoming a legit target to throw darts at, but we don’t know.  We will find out what direction he goes in another 10 weeks.  Until then, we can misguide our disgust towards an owner who has yet to take a shot at making his own mark, or we can throw our darts at the team and hope that Ross is the right owner to make the next change.

For now, I simply can’t blame a guy for an 0-6 team who plays with no passion when that guy had little to do with putting them on the field.  Let’s let him make that change first before we start screaming for him to sell.

Consider this as well, if all he has done around the stadium was surrounded by a great team…everyone would be applauding him. Ross has attempted to make the game day atmosphere more alive and fun…now he needs to step in and get the product on the field to the same standard.

Topics: Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland, Miami Dolphins, Stephen Ross, Tony Sparano

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  • mmandia

    Could not agree more. Let Ross clean house, then begin to judge him as a football owner.

  • Riverdog

    I think you’re a little naive to think that Ross is hands off on any matter that faces the Dolphins. That seems to be short sighted on your part. Lets not be so narrow minded and say Ross had nothing to do with Dee staging a Gator Day. He knew, and he gave it his stamp of approval.

    There are also reports out there, stated by the Miami Herald that it was Ross who nixed the Kyle Orton deal. Most of that said story was fabricated by the writer, but the part about Ross nixing the deal, was at least said to be from a source close to the front office. Some times we must take people at their word when they say it is from a source. If you have proof of that not being true then please fill us in. If not your stating that, is nothing more then another fabricated story. Besides as you said it appears that was a pretty good move on his part.

    IMO you are right, this sorry state of affairs the team is in is not his fault. If he stands pat with any of these guys, he will then be fair game for the fans. Not that he would care about what we say. That would be like saying the CEO of Bank of America cares about any of it’s employees.

  • mmandia

    @Riverdog IMO the Gator Day thing was a pile and should have never happened. Just a guess here, but if Ross had not attended UF, that would not have happened. Whatev, it sold tickets. If Phins fans don’t want to buy the tickets then there will be open seats for the opposing fans. In the meantime, I just want to see a quality product “playing” on the field. I could care less what Ross wants to do for promotions, but wish he would reach out to the Hurricanes to honor them the same way.

  • redteg02

    @mmandia@Riverdog Don’t remember where I read it, but I remember seeing that the Dolphins did approach the Hurricanes first and were denied.

  • http://www.phinsanity.blogspot.com/ Phinsanity

    A very well thought out article with good info.

    Here’s my two cents.

    I think Ross is a horrible motivator. And this franchise needs a lot of motivation. The fans, the coaches and the players need it.

    I think you are underplaying the Urban Meyer incident. The stands were filled with Bronco/Tebow fans, and I for one was embarrassed. Ross should have realized how bad it looked for him to be laughing it up with Tebow’s biggest fan while the game was still in the balance. He should have been cordial and then got away from him. The lack of Dolphin fans in the stadium made it look worse and Ross should have been sensitive to that.

    http://phinsanity.blogspot.com/2011/10/stephen-ross-i-hope-youre-watching.html

    I also think you are underplaying his mis-handling of the Harbaugh affair. I like his boldness in trying to get Harbaugh but he really screwed up the aftermath. I think it was very harmful to the franchise. He most likely killed any kind of motivation that Sparano had. And on top of that he offered him a 2-year extension. And, yes, I do think this is a big contributor to the 0-6 record. Obviously, there’s no way to prove that, but that’s my gut feeling.

    http://phinsanity.blogspot.com/2011/10/when-should-tony-sparano-be-fired.html

    Ross can still turn things around (or at least attempt to). And if he does, I will sing his praises. We are all on the same side and I am rooting for him to succeed, but so far I am not optimistic.

  • notquiterosey

    The last paragraph you wrote is really spot on, and that’s what bothers me about this entire argument. The Dolphins play in Miami, a huge party central with nightclubs galore. Adding Club Liv to the stadium was actually a great move by Ross in my opinion, as I think it will attract a lot of the party-goers to the stadium. And if the Dolphins were fielding a decent team week in and week out, people would look at that say Ross, good for him! Staying out the football business, bringing people into the stadium, we have a good owner. But nope, because the Dolphins are playing horribly, people are looking for a scapegoat. They are tired of blaming Sparano, tired of blaming Parcells, so they move to Ross.

    I’m not saying Ross is a great owner by any stretch, but we need to focus on the real problems and that is the coaching staff, the GM and Sparano, and the team we are putting out there. Let Ross be an attention whore. Who cares? He isn’t the reason we are struggling right now.

  • mmandia

    @redteg02@Riverdog Yeah, I read that somewhere too. Don’t understand what the Cane’s motives would be for not accepting the invite. Oh well, as fans we all tend to look for the negatives and rightfully so. They’re much easier to find. For me, the last 10 or so years of this has beat me down. I want to find positives, but when the team is 0-6 they all get swept under the rug.

  • Riverdog

    @mmandia I saw the same thing about the Canes. I’m numbed by this team over the past decade. I am disgusted because they are disgusting.

  • shawndog5X5

    Dear Saddened Dolphans everywhere:( I know its not good to dwell in the past, however wasn’t it not to long ago when the decision was made to go with a washed up D.Culpepper instead of D.Brees. I believe that it was all over a non-willingness to put forth 15 mill. to Brees. I wonder how many mill. the ownership group would be willing to spend to be able to make that 15 mill. decision again. Where is this (our ….maybe not for long) team going? how many mills. have been lost in revenue from this? What will be the next poor judgement call…. Totally bummed and tired of sayin this is the year when I know it really isn’t. SK in Mn..