I’ll be the first to admit, I was one of those fans yelling “Fireland”. Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland has made multiple mistakes since taking over in 2008, but after drafting Quarterback Ryan Tannehill with the 8th overall pick in this year’s draft, does that help calm those fans who were chanting “fireland” down? I’d say he’s on the right track, but has a ways to go.
Since Dan Marino’s retirement in 1999 Miami has had a major problem finding a new franchise Quarterback. And Ryan Tannehill is the first Quarterback the Dolphins have taken in the first round of the NFL draft since Dan Marino. When Ireland took over in 2008, with the help of Bill Parcells, they drafted Quarterback Chad Henne in the 2nd round, then a year later in 2009, they drafted Pat White, another Quarterback taken in the 2nd round. Both became a bust and left the Miami Dolphins in the same position they were in before the Jeff Ireland era, no QB to replace Dan Marino, and no light at the end of the tunnel.
In this year’s draft after Jeff Ireland used the 8th overall pick on the inexperienced Texas A&M Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, I was very skeptical and worried. Growing up in the Midwest and following teams in the Big 12 I watched Ryan Tannehill play and wasn’t impressed. Even after the speculation started that the Miami Dolphins were going to draft Tannehill, I went back and looked at some of his games and still didn’t see what Ireland saw in him. I felt that Brandon Weeden, Russell Wilson, and even Kirk Cousins were better options then Tannehill, but Jeff Ireland must have seen something in him that I didn’t.
We all know that Ireland has said and done some things that makes us wonder what he was thinking, like what he said in his interview with, then Oklahoma State University’s Wide Receiver, Dez Bryant in April of 2010, when he asked him if his mother was a prostitute. Or what he did to Head Coach Tony Sparano at the end of the 2010 season, when he flew to meet with then Stanford University Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, on coming to be the Head Coach for the Dolphins. Then owner Stephen Ross and Jeff Ireland had the courage to give coach Sparano a $4.5 million contract extension and told him he was the man for the job, only to fire him after week 14 of the 2011 season.
In addition to all of this he was unable to bring in QB Peyton Manning, or coach Jeff Fisher. And he still hasn’t figured out a solution to our lack of Wide Receivers to go along with Davone Bess and Brian Hartline. But with all of this said, he and Bill Parcells did bring in Chad Pennington his first year as GM, and Pennington was able to bring the Dolphins from a 1-15 season under Cam Cameron, to the playoffs the following season. He also brought in RB Reggie Bush from the New Orleans Saints, who put up career high stats just in his first season with the Dolphins.
So we can’t say that everything that Jeff Ireland has done has hurt the Dolphins. Sure he has done some damage and wasted draft picks and cap space on players, but with trading for Reggie Bush, drafting Ryan Tannehill, and bringing in Coach Joe Philbin (who is looking promising as well), he very well may have finally figured it out.
Only time will tell.