I want to first state that I am by no means saying Miami should not bring in a new general manager and that Jeff Ireland’s dismissal from the team would harm the organization. That may certainly be the best move for the team at this point, and I do not have the knowledge to make that decision, nor am I saying it is not the right decision for the team to make. I am also not saying that Jeff Ireland has not made mistakes in the past (*insert Dez Bryant reference here*) or that the GM has not had his fair share of bad decisions, including bad draft picks. I am not saying that there is no one to blame for the Miami Dolphins seemingly hopeless season and their pitiful play on the field . What I am saying is that the majority of the fans’ metaphorical “Jeff Ireland middle fingers” (yes, this is a reference to when he flipped off that fan) should not be pointed at the GM himself, but rather that the current anemic state of this team rests on the shoulders of Miami’s coaching staff.
First, let me try to relieve some of the tension fans with Ireland. Yes, I know that he has screwed up before and that some of these problems are in fact a result of the GM’s decisions. I am not denying that we should not be upset with some of the changes he has implemented. First, I think he paid WAY too much for our free agents this year, and interestingly enough it was one of Miami’s least paid offseason findings that has been the most productive, cornerback Brent Grimes. However, this brings me to my next point regarding Ireland: the man has found some absolute gems. Currently on the Dolphins’ roster, products of Ireland (whether through the draft or FA) include but are not limited to CB Brent Grimes, TE Charles Clay, RB Lamar Miller, S Chris Clemons, QB Ryan Tannehill, WR Brian Hartline, S Reshad Jones, DE Cameron Wake (from CFL), DT Jared Odrick, C Mike Pouncey. Try to picture this team without these players. It completely changes everything, and this team could easily be 0-9 instead of 4-5 without these players. Reshad Jones and Cameron Wake are arguably the two best members of the Dolphins’ defense, and Mike Pouncey and Brian Hartline have been the most consistent forces on offense. The point I am trying to get across is regardless of how many times Ireland has screwed up, he has made some GREAT decisions that have contributed to the successes of this organization. Therefore, I don’t think the majority of the blame and upset should be placed with him.
To me, the recent poor play of the Dolphins is because of poor coaching. I agree completely with Brian Miller’s (also of PhinPhanatic) reference to the inconsistency of this team as its biggest crutch at this point. And I agree that consistency is something must be coached. Even though Miami has lost two starting offensive linemen, WR Brandon Gibson and TE Dustin Keller (both also Ireland additions), this team still has an enormous amount of talent on both sides of the ball. The Dolphins certainly have more talent than the Bills, Ravens, Buccaneers and arguably even the Patriots. Yet week in and week out, they have lost games either by blowing leads or making poor decisions, or both. Mike Sherman has consistently killed promising drives in the fourth quarter, often shying away from the run when it is dominating opposing defenses, or as we saw against the Bucs, sticking with the same run plays even when they were not working. He has yet to use the tools Ireland has give him properly, which is I think is partly why Mike Wallace has struggled. Sherman seemingly has been fine with settling for a field goal, when a touchdown would have put the game on ice. As for Joe Philbin, he doesn’t appear to trust his players, evident by his hesitation to challenge plays or challenge the refs after what has felt like hundreds of bad calls. While I like his “no nonsense” philosophy and coaching style, I can’t help but wonder if the man has any fire or passion inside of him. I am not asking for a legendary Tony Sparano fist pump after a 32 yard field goal, but lighting some sort of fire inside of his players may be the quality Philbin is missing most.
Regardless of where you think the finger of blame should be pointed for this Miami Dolphins team, consider the positives of this team thus far. They have shown flashes of brilliance, defeating one of the league’s best: the Indianapolis Colts. They have shown that they can play great football with the talent they have, talent that is by no means worthy of a 4-5 record thanks to many great finds and pickups by our GM Jeff Ireland. The point I am trying to make is that Miami has the players, they just don’t have a consistent game plan or identity. They are being led by an offensive coordinator who shies away from the game plan that dominates, a head coach who seemingly lacks the ability to motivate his players to finish a game, and a defensive coordinator who seems appalled at the idea of putting in his best players on the field at the same time in the most crucial defensive situations.
The Dolphins need a new coaching staff. I am unsure whether or not they need a new General Manager, but I think the first solution is finding a coaching staff that can perform and win with the present talent and roster.
Where do you think the blame resides within this organization? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts and as always,
keep your FINS UP!