Only Jeff Ireland remains from the original Miami Dolphins “Trifecta”. Bill Parcells is thankfully gone as his Parcells’ self appointed HC Tony Sparano. Much to the disliking of many fans, Jeff Ireland has managed to hang on. Now, there is a new “Trifecta” that roams the halls in Davie. Ireland, HC Joe Philbin, and QB Ryan Tannehill. And the three of them will likely find their futures locked together for better or worse.
Ireland has made a play this off-season to make the team better sooner rather than later but questions still circle the field as to whether they have done anything close to making this team a true contender. The elite of the AFC is still the New England Patriots and the resurgent Denver Broncos on the shoulders of Peyton Manning. While the Ravens took some unexpected knocks in free agency, they are still the defending Super Bowl Champions.
If the Dolphins are going to compete for a deep playoff run, they will have to beat the Patriots first and foremost. That responsibility lies on the shoulders of second year QB Ryan Tannehill. Ireland has given Tannehill more weapons thane he could have imagined. A top speed outside WR in Mike Wallace. The return of his favorite freshman target Brian Hartline, a seam threat TE in Dustin Keller, and a possession receiver in Brandon Gibson. And the draft isn’t here yet.
Tannehill will need to make major strides if he is to lead this team beyond the 16th game. He needs to get his accuracy corrected on the deep ball. He needs to better read defensive schemes and he needs to do it this year or Jeff Ireland may not have a job in 2014. If Ireland goes, it’s very possible that Joe Philbin will leave as well.
Many times after a GM is fired, the new GM, unless he is an internal hire, cuts ties with the coaching staff in place and sets the team up with a coach who shares his philosophies. Ireland chose Joe Philbin unlike Tony Sparano. If Ireland’s future is tied to the production of Ryan Tannehill, then Philbins future is tied to the future of Jeff Ireland.
Joe Philbin is entering his 2nd season as a head coach. He is a no nonsense coach who puts up with very little. He treats his players like men and they in turn respect that. But Philbin hasn’t won anything yet. He may have won over the players but it’s the fans that ultimately will decide the futures of the top two decision makers as more and more pressure is put on Stephen Ross to put a winner on the field. Especially in the eyes of the local community who are being asked to spend upwards of 200 million plus for stadium renovations for a team who really hasn’t consistently won in a decade.
To say that Joe Philbin is a good coach would be nearsighted as we have only one season to judge him and in that one season he had very little offensive talent. This year that will not be the case and with better talent on paper comes more expectations for a better record. Which brings up back full circle to Ryan Tannehill.
If Ireland’s future is on the shoulders of Tannehill and Philbin’s futures is entwined with Jeff Ireland’s, then it’s only logical to say that Ryan Tannehill’s future is tied to Joe Philbin. Ryan Tannehill is a system quarterback and the Dolphins are running the Mike Sherman offensive system from Texas A&M. Tannehill played for Sherman, Sherman is the personal choice of Philbin, thus, if Philbin goes, Sherman goes, and Ryan Tannehill will be put into a system that he is not likely going to fit into.
And the circle completes itself.
With the draft closing in quickly and then another yet smaller free agency period, the Dolphins top three need each other to be as successful as possible and they need to be successful now rather than later. The 2013 Miami Dolphins schedule, which comes out tomorrow night, is not an easy one. The Dolphins had their easy schedule last year and failed to make the post-season. Dolphins fans won’t look at the schedule and be forgiving and if the fans are not forgiving, at some point Stephen Ross won’t be either.