It’s amazing to me how many ignorant football fans there are in the world. If you would have asked me a week ago I would have said that most of the resided in New York and posed themselves as Jets fans. I mean seriously, who else would root for Rex Ryan? Apparently losing has taken it’s toll on Miami Dolphins fans. It reminds of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
Gollum finds his “precious” and hoards it away as it melts his mind until there is nothing left of his sanity. Seems all those years of winning and then the subsequent years of losing has done nothing but wilt away the very threads of brain activity to nothing for some of the weaker minded fans. Hey I get it, I really do. This team is amazingly bad. They have talent, but they are not winning. It’s easy to get worked up and fired up after years and years of this mess, but let’s not run out and start blaming everyone without at least giving it some rational educated thought.
Over at FinsNation.com, not to be confused with the reality checked work of FinNation.com and my very sane minded co-hosts from Finsradio.net, they have taken up the task of getting general manager Jeff Ireland fired by soliciting donations from equally irate fans to fly a plane with the banner ““Mr. Ross, save our Dolphins. Fire Jeff Ireland.” Misguided and clueless.
First I had to take a stand against the ignorant. Sorry but it’s true. Earlier this week I felt compelled to stick up for Stephen Ross. Is he the worst owner in Miami Dolphins history? Of course he is. Why? Because there have only been two before him. The adored and loved founder of the Dolphins, Joe Robbie, and the quirky fun-loving spend at all cost to win Wayne Huizenga. Ross of course has only been the full owner of the team for two years…so he is worst only by who he is compared to. The Phins win a Super Bowl and he will be beloved. You can read my education file on his defense here.
Now, it seems I have to equally defend, or educate some fans on General Manger Jeff Ireland. I doubt the guys over at FinsNation will read this and that’s o.k., they tend to be far more over the top than realistic anyways.
Jeff Ireland has been damned since he was brought to Miami. It started early with Jake Long over Matt Ryan. It snowballed into hell with Chad Henne. It reminded everyone of the Ted Ginn over Brady Quinn for John Beck fiasco a year before. Then it was the Pat White pick and the Patrick Turner pick and so on. It was failed attempts to land anyone worth a damn in free agency.
It continued to roll downhill. It peaked when he asked Dez Bryant if his mother was a hooker, and got worse when he joined Stephen Ross on the flight to California to supposedly try and woo Jim Harbaugh, he stopped talking to the media and pissed off one local reporter who tried to run down the tunnel for a soundbite interrupting the conversation between Ireland and Ross. How rude.
Ireland is not a favorite of most Dolphins fans. His draft picks have been questionable and his free agent pick-ups have been worse. This is where perception and reality mix to form yet another gray line that makes many fans believe one thing when reality is another thing entirely. Yes, I’m talking about focal blame here. We blame Ireland because he stands front and center of the decision making. However, that was not always the case. Just like with Stephen Ross, Jeff Ireland has only been making his own decisions for a short two off-seasons.
I can honestly say that I believe Ireland is a good GM and I believe that he plays things pretty close to the hip and uses his intelligence and his gut feelings to make his decisions in a balanced method. Not every move is perfect and not every move pans out. With that being said, I’m not someone who will sit here and say that I will be disappointed if he is fired. I think it would be a mistake but I wouldn’t lose any more sleep over it than I did with Sparano.
First things first. There is no way that any owner will fire his GM during the season. It’s ridiculous. You take away the guy with the power to make decisions. Sign free agents, restructure contracts. You absolutely can not replace your GM mid-season or later. In most cases, the GM doesn’t usually go until after the draft. Why? Because the GM has done all the work for the off-season. He has worked with the scouts, prepped for the start of free agency, and has already started prepping a possible draft list and FA list. So for those of you whining that Ireland didn’t go with Sparano…it wasn’t going to happen anyways and if it did then Ross would really have some issues to deal with.
So forget about that part.
Second, let’s look at reality here. I know it’s hard to put down your perception of things but this is reality and whether you like it or not, it’s the truth. Jeff Ireland was not responsible for three out of four drafts with the Miami Dolphins. Bill Parcells was. Parcells didn’t leave the team until September of the 2010 season. He had final say in all things from the draft to free agency. In other words, from Gibril Wilson to the Matt Ryan passover, to Pat White and Chad Henne.
Prior to the start of the 2010 off-season, Bill Parcells stepped back from his daily operations with the Dolphins. Jeff Ireland took over more responsibility. His first act was to trade for Brandon Marshall in April, just prior to the 2010 draft. Parcells however stayed involved with the draft and the team moved down to take Jared Odrick in round one and Koa Misi in round 2. Failing to grab a starting QB. However, in the 2010 draft the top four QB’s taken were Sam Bradford number 1 overall, Tim Tebow number 25, followed in the second round by Jimmy Clausen, and Colt McCoy in round three. In other words, there were no QB’s worth taking for the Dolphins in Jeff Irelands’ first year running the draft room. Considering that Bill Parcells didn’t step out of the “Czar” role until early April, the free agent period prior to the draft was Parcells.
Following the 2010 season, Ireland was on his own. No Parcells to hover above him. He entered the 2011 season in a lockout and faced the daunting task of getting Tony Sparano back into his good graces for his role in Harbaughgate and turning the franchise around on a short schedule.
Many fans blame Ireland for not drafting a quarterback in round 1. He passed on Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, and Ryan Mallet who lasted until round 3. Dalton and C.K. lasted into round 2. Instead, he drafted a center who is proving to be one of the best centers in the league, Mike Pouncey. He traded up for a workhorse running back in Daniel Thomas who has moments of brilliance and moments of question regarding what kind of runner he will be. It also should be noted that the short off-season did nothing to help Thomas who suffered early season hamstring problems.
Ireland also drafted Charles Clay is steadily becoming a fan favorite and Clyde Gates who has been an unquestionable early disappointment as a speed guy. As the lockout ended, Ireland faced his first solo free agent act of his four year stint in Miami. He flirted with DeAngelo Williams but refused to pay the 47 mill plus he was asking for, turning his attention to Reggie Bush who is close to 1,000 yards on the season. He stared down John Elway and the Broncos and refused to cave in to a second round draft pick and a guaranteed 7 million dollar contract for Kyle Orton. Opting instead for Matt Moore.
This issue for many fans in regards to both Ireland and Ross is the fact that the team still doesn’t have a franchise QB to lead this team. Unfortunately for both of them, the opportunity hasn’t really happened yet. Sure, a case for Andy Dalton could be made but that’s hindsight and no one expected him to have the success he has had this year. Passing on a first round blue chip QB this year and yes, blame can squarely be thrown at both of them.
Another issue with Ireland in the minds of fans is the infinity for bringing in former Cowboys. Marc Columbo has been a joke this year and it’s unclear if that was Ireland’s call or a call from Tony Sparano. They both deserve the credit for that one. The truth is that in the short year and a half that Ireland has been completely out of the Bill Parcells shadow, he has added Jared Odrick, Brandon Marshall, Mike Pouncey, Daniel Thomas, Matt Moore (who should be a perfect bridge for a rookie QB), Reggie Bush, and brought back Jason Taylor (right or wrong).
Jeff Ireland isn’t perfect and while he has proven to find some winners, he has proven to miss and land some losers as well. Some of his actions are questionable, Dez Bryant’s mom, Larry Johnson, and Marc Columbo come to mind. None of that however is something that should cost him his job. He has had it for four years, but it has truly only been his for a year and a half.
If Ross decides that a coach with total control is what he needs, then Ross will be gone regardless of what Ross has stated, if that happens, then so be it. I’m not going to pay 1500 bucks to fly a plane around the stadium begging the owner to cut ties with Ireland simply so I can rid the team of everything that was brought on board by Bill Parcells. Jeff Ireland hasn’t proven to be the entire problem with this team.
All that being said, like Ross, this is now Ireland standing in front of the room on his own. No more blame for the coaching or the forced hand holding from Bill Parcells. Ireland’s decisions in the last two years and going forward will come to light rather quickly and then, and only then should someone shell out to fly a banner for Stephen Ross to read…and who knows, when that happens, you may add Ross’ name to it as well in the hopes he will sell…but that time isn’t now.