Dec 15, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross looks on from the sideline before kickoff against the New England Patriots at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins won 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

A Letter To Mr Ross


Originally, I had started this article as a means of putting my thoughts and emotions on paper as to what I would say to Stephen Ross, in hopes that maybe somehow this article would find it’s way into his office.  Instead, I nixed that idea and wrote an actual email to Stephen Ross and copied both Jeff Ireland and Tom Garfinkel on the message.   Below, you’ll find the body of that message contained within this write up.

As a preface to that, I know reports have surfaced from CBS Sports today that Ross is seriously considering releasing both Sherman and Ireland, while retaining Philbin.  You can keep Ireland while releasing Philbin, but doing the opposite is a mistake.  Ireland, love him or hate him, put enough talent on that field to make this a 12-4 team with better coaching.  Our coaching was extremely sub-par this season and truly could have led us to a 6-10 (or worse) record if not for the talent on this team.  There are holes in the Dolphins roster, much like there are for any NFL team out there, but some of those holes are created by inferior coaching and scheme.

I will let the letter speak for itself.  I’ve removed contact information for obvious reasons.

To: Stephen Ross CC: Tom Garfinkel, Jeff Ireland

Subject: A Plea From A Lifelong DolFan

Dear Mr Ross,

I apologize for the boldness of emailing you directly, if you are indeed reading this.  I wanted to share my perspective if you’re willing to listen.  To give you some background on myself, I’m a 34 year old DolFan from CT.  I have been writing for sites such as www.PhinPhanatic.com & www.Phinatics.com, co-host a Dolphins radio show on FinsRadio, helped with promoting the MetLife Takeover, travelled to various DolFan meetup groups, am assisting various DolFan groups “get started,” have coached youth football and more.  In my daytime job I have a fairly high profile corporate job with a fortune 15 company.  This season I managed to attend Web Weekend X (thank you for that), as well as attended road games in New England and Buffalo (along with the aforementioned game at MetLife against the Jets).  I’m a lifelong DolFan and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

 

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I want to get my plea out there.  Please stay the course with Jeff Ireland.  The man has brought a great deal of talent to the franchise and as I’ve pointed out on numerous occasions that talent is being misused.  This roster is one of the deepest rosters in the NFL, and I am a fan of where Ireland has the team headed from both a talent and salary cap perspective.  He put enough talent in the locker room to be a 12 win team this season, and quite frankly without pointing fingers at individuals on the coaching staff the team was coached equivalent to a team that should have been 6-10.

 

The talent on this team often masked poor coaching decisions.  One example would be a horrible call on 4th down in Pittsburgh.  Mike Sherman showed a propensity for making mystifying calls in short yardage, and the screen to Clay, well short of the first down, against an aggressive Pitt defense was a poor choice.  A superhuman effort by a talented Clay – a player who was overlooked by this staff the past 2 years despite some promise shown in regards to big plays during his rookie season – is the only reason the team was able to get a first down.

 

I have a deep respect for Mike Sherman, but there are too many fundamental issues with his game that are unacceptable from a fan perspective.  I wrote an article in November in regards to the fundamental issues surrounding how he was running the offense that put the team at a disadvantage before even getting to the play calling.  Lining Mike Wallace up almost exclusively wide right allowing teams to easily game plan for him.  The issues with the snap count were the biggest grievance I have ever had with a coach at any level.  There are several layers to this grievance, each layer giving further advantage to the defense while subtracting advantage from the offense – in particular the offensive line – that show up in terms of inability to run, sacks allowed, etc.  This is the one thing that makes me angrier than how flat the team came out against Buffalo & the Jets.  The respect I have for Sherman and his history in football would lead me to hope that the team allows him to save some face by resigning if he is willing to do so with a gentle nudge, but if not I can’t stand the thought of him running the offense next season.

 

Joe Philbin is a man that I like.  I like his meticulousness, and his openness.  I’m a fan of his willingness to communicate and accessibility.  The man is a great person.  I would, however, gauge his ability to stay off of how he is able to honestly assess Sherman and handle that situation.  I have to believe that he is somewhat blinded by his friendship and the fact that he looks up to Sherman, and I understand it.  However, if he is unable to look beyond that and see the issues, then he isn’t ready to truly be an NFL head coach after all.

 

I could take or leave Kevin Coyle, but that is not a feeling I want towards a coach on my favorite team.

 

My “dream scenario” for next season would be for Ireland to return as GM, and if Philbin is NOT retained then there is an ideal coach that I have in mind.  I’d like to qualify this as not being related to his family pedigree.  The more I look at the situation in Carolina, the more I like the idea of getting a jump on next year when many teams will be looking to fill their HC vacancies with Shula. He gets the most out of his players while scheming his systems to the players on his roster to maximize their strengths and mask their weaknesses.  My ideal front office that is realistically attainable would be:

GM – Jeff Ireland

HC – Mike Shula or Lovie Smith

OC – Gary Kubiak, Rob Chudzinski, Ken Whisenhunt or Ken O’Keefe

DC – Ray Horton, Todd Bowles (would have to come w asst HC designation)

 

Again, if you are reading this, I appreciate the time and wanted to share some objective fan perspective.  I love this team, and winning will bring the fans around no matter how much they may dislike a decision at the time.  I will cut this off here, as I could go on.

 

Thank you,

Paul L Picken, Jr

Two further notes on this email that I sent to the organization today:
  • I realize Lovie Smith is no longer an option, as he has reportedly signed with Tampa Bay since this message was sent.
  • I did hear back from Jeff within 15 minutes of sending this email, so his accounts with the Dolphins are not deactivated and he was still actively with the team as of this afternoon.

Next Dolphins Game View full schedule »
Sunday, Sep 77 Sep1:00New England PatriotsBuy Tickets
Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Jeff Ireland Miami Dolphins Stephen Ross

  • Bigonza

    A lot of NFL teams have talent. I think you’re really overlooking Ireland’s flaws.

    We went several years with NO plan at RG. Pouncey is a copy-cat pick, which is ok, but nothing special when using a #1 pick there. Jerry hasn’t been that good, Jon Martin’s a bust, Incognito & Clabo are retreads. The 2 new LB’s aren’t good. The RB’s are a joke. WR is average…think I’d rather have Dez.

    Ireland’s obsession with D-Line hasn’t been as great as advertised. The Defense really dropped down and people forgot the Starks/Odrick BS from Ireland a few years ago. Now Ireland spent Fin treasure again on Jordan when O-Line was a much bigger need.

    You can say what about Grimes and I can say what about Keller? Sometimes injury free agents work & sometimes they don’t.

    The fact is that the Defense went downhill & so did the kicking. No one is jealous of our O-Line or RB’s.
    So what does that leave? We have Pouncey, Fields, Wake, & maybe Grimes.

    There are many NFL teams with a handful of good players.

    • Paul L. Picken, Jr

      Carpenter didn’t outperform Sturgis in camp, and Sturgis was absolutely on the money early on before hitting a rough patch. The life of Sturgis contract doesn’t pay out what Carpenter would’ve made this season, and that meant a tie goes to Sturgis there.

      You think those are the only good players on this team?

  • dolphinjohn

    Great letter and i agree 100%!!!……I been a dolphin fan for 30 years also living in patriot country(rhode island) go phins!!!!!!!

    • Steve

      U have no clue. I think u should start routing for the Pats

      • Paul L. Picken, Jr

        Thanks Dolphinjohn, much appreciated.

        Steve, he’s entitled to his opinion, as are you if you want Ireland gone.

  • Jc

    Um. Sorry but you’re just wrong. Not necessarily wrong about some of the coaching but wrong about Ireland. Consider a few things you conveniently overlooked or just don’t know:

    1). No team in the NFL had fewer snaps from the 2013 draft class.
    2). Everybody knew we needed line help. Everybody. Except Ireland. More sacks than any Dolphins team ever. While some of that is on Tanni and coaching, we needed help and Ireland…
    3). Moved up in the draft to select Jordan. 2 sacks. 2.
    4). Our run defense slid substantially for one reason: our “upgrade” at MLB. The guys Ireland traded away? Stellar seasons. Our upgrades? Disappointing.
    5). Our $60M WR won’t fight for the ball, can’t catch in traffic and is near the top of the league in drops.
    6). Marshal, Bush, Dansby, Burnett, and Long are ALL better than their replacements.

    While you are right to point out some questionable coaching, you’re defense of Ireland is just plain ignorant.

    • Paul L. Picken, Jr

      I’ll try to reply to these by number, to do the response justice.
      1)

      • eric

        Paul,
        You got it right on all points. I think people take so much of the information that is posted or written out of perspective. I’ve been a big proponent of Ireland. He needs to stay.
        No need to rehash your points.

        • Paul L. Picken, Jr

          Thanks, Eric. Much appreciated.

  • Mike

    Ya, i’m not sure about keeping Ireland… Look he moved up to get Jordan when he is not going to keep Long ? and then Jordan doesn’t play a lot ? ya ya injured and if he is injured you don’t move up to number 3 to take a guy that can’t make an immediate impact. Look at the O line he put out there.. and the fact that he gave up picks to move up at get Daniel Thomas ?? Thomas is horrible he’s a sloth out there along with the running game Ireland put out. Shall I continue ? how about the LB’s ? I’m convinced he gave Ellerbe that contract because he won the super bowl when infact it was all Ray Lewis that made him look good. We need a clean slate. This team let Long and Bush go which is ridiculous, you add playmkaers but get rid of p;laymakers so your taking one step forward and another back putting you in the same position you were before. Philbin needs to cut his EGO crap about strong personalities. Let me tell you something strong personalities win you championships. Ireland needs to go ill back JC below…. on #6. He may have made some good choices but Ireland’s bad outway the good. CLEAN HOUSE including Philbin. and what is this i hear Ross is pondering firing sherman and ireland…. what is there to think about ??? it’s really laughable at this stage. Jumping ship to a professonal organization like Tampa now with Lovi may be a good option i’m thinking….

    • Mike

      I don’t care about losing, if your putting effort into winning. This team just goes in circles every year and by not cleaning slate Ross is telling me he has no intention of taking another route. Cleaning house would show us loyal die hard fans since age 8 that you mean business.

      • Paul L. Picken, Jr

        I would be fine with cleaning house on the coaching staff, but quite frankly a good coach would see double digit wins with the talent Ireland out on the field.

    • jeremy161616

      Daniel Thomas isn’t that bad. You can’t run behind an O-Line that bad.

      • Paul L. Picken, Jr

        You also can’t run when (as in the Tampa game) the defense hears you call the cadence for run and does an all out blitz with the front 7 while knowing the timing of the snap count

  • Johnny

    If I was Ross… I would ask Jeff Ireland 1 question::: “Did you think Jonathon Martin could be a good or even a decent NFL Left Tackle”????????…. If he says “Yes”… Fire Ireland immediately!!! I’ve been saying this last year… Martin is WEAK!!! He benched 225 only 15 times at combine.. He’s prone to the Bull Rush and Quick move.. He doesn’t have that first punch… Oh yeh, did I mention that Jonathon Martin is WEAK!!!! ( and this is before the whole BS, proving he’s also MENTALLY WEAK TOO).. That’s the only question I would ask Ireland… He got the Phins some talent from the draft and free agency, but forgot the most important position, the OFFENSIVE LINE… Without a good OLine, you can’t run the pall and your going to get your QB killed .(58 sacks)..
    I’m amazed Tannehill had such a good season ranking 9th overall in passing yards with OVER 3900 yds.. (24TDs)… Just imagine if he had a decent OLine to give him an extra 1.5 secs.. Crazy!!

    • Paul L. Picken, Jr

      With the cadence issues, even an all all-pro line would’ve looked bad. Sherman varied the cadence or timing slightly in a handful of games and it worked wonders in keeping Tannehill clean and getting the running game going… And then reverted to those same issues repeatedly.

  • Steve

    Dude, are you nuts? Keep Ireland? He hasn’t done “Jack” for this franchise. This whole damn coaching staff needs to go. Ireland traded up to pick Jordan and what the hell has he done? The 3 overall pick should be starting. Please re write your letter because if Ireland is retained, the fan base is GONE….

    • Paul L. Picken, Jr

      Some fans may leave, but with good coaching they’d return. I would be fine if the coaching staff left, and Ireland doesn’t make the decisions on who starts. He was pushing for Jordan to play more, while Philbins philosophy on rookies is to have them barely play in their rookie season

  • Don Devine

    I hope that you do not abuse your access to Ross and the front office by assuming to speak for every Dol-Fan. I assure you that you do not and dont ever assume that you do. Jeff Ireland and Sherman both indeed need to be fired. Its plain and simple.

    • Paul L. Picken, Jr

      Don, I never stated that I spoke for everyone, and I think I made it quite clear that I was speaking from my own perspective on this. Sherman does indeed need to go.

  • Aldo Gonzalez

    My question to you is are we watching the same team? “The” Miami Dolphins from Miami, Florida located in Davie. Because I know the team that I watched is not the same team you are writing about.;

    I know you are an Ireland fan but come on seriously you can’t be this blind. I don’t even know where to begin with this guy.

    • Paul L. Picken, Jr

      I assure you that I am.

      • Aldo Gonzalez

        Hahaha your funny thanks for the laugh needed it. Unfortunately the product on the field speaks for itself. And you are right it isn’t Ireland’s fault. Ireland is just doing his job the only way he knows how to. It’s Ross’s fault for keeping him around for so long. I believe Ross is the poster child of “Insanity” (doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results)

        • Paul L. Picken, Jr

          *you’re

          But you’re right, Ross shares in some of the blame – but it’s because his hand picked coach brought in the coaching staff that failed us this season

  • Jacqui Patterson-Kimbrough

    Are you serious,?

    • Paul L. Picken, Jr

      Yes.

  • Chad White

    Wow sounds like you think Ireland is actually good. Did you know other owners are wondering why he is still around? They have jokingly said that it’s worse the Matt Millen situation in Detroit. Your right we are stacked in every position because of Ireland especially o line, CB, WR and RB. I can’t believe these guys aren’t Pro Bowlers. Must be coaching. I mean Moore and Matthews have got to be the best 3 and 4 WR in the league, give me a break those guys wouldn’t make many other teams. Daniel Thomas is all on coaching not on Ireland lol. You may be the smartest man alive.

    • Paul L. Picken, Jr

      He is good. I’ve never said we’re stacked at every position, but he team is stacked at WR & CB. O-line had some holes to it, but if you watched the games where they actually changed up the cadence the front 5 did ok even when they were very depleted by seasons end. The cadence issues are a huge issue, and one that would present themselves no matter the starters on the o-line. If you read some of my prior comment responses, you’ll see a further breakdown on this.

      Matthews is a second year WR who did pretty well overall and outperformed expectations of most, while Moore is a special teams gunner who only saw the field because of injury depletions to the unit, and plenty of teams would be happy to have Matthews as a 3 or 4.

      Is Ireland good? Yes, I believe he is. Certainly better than any names that I’ve heard bandied about.

      • Chad White

        Good thing Ross didn’t take your advice. Now lets just hope he doesn’t screw up the hire.

        • Paul L. Picken, Jr

          It’s yet to be seen if it’s good advice. Barring a drastic overhaul of the roster this season, it will take 2-3 years once they hire him/her to determine if the replacement GM is truly capable.

  • Chad White

    People need to boycott this writer!

    • Paul L. Picken, Jr

      Why so? You did comment twice, I believe, so was this on your second read of the article?

  • Fraz Glencross

    I kind of agree with you Paul. Sherman must go and if he doesnt then it will be a terrible decision. I agree with you about Coyle. I neither love nor loathe him. He is acceptable but is acceptable good enough? I would say not. Ireland has made mistakes although i think most of them came while working with Parcells and he has put us in a good position salary cap wise.Letting Bush go does look like a very poor decision though. Paying what we did for Wallace now looks ridiculous although i am hopeful he will get better next year when Tannehill has more time to throw and throw deep.

    Not all free agent acquisitions work out but unfortunately Ellerbe and Wheeler have been poor. I know you tried to defend them but to be honest you cant do it. They are both ranked close to last at their positions and considering the money being paid that is unacceptable. Grimes and Gibson were great and i am sure Keller would have been too. I hope he comes back and we re-sign him for a year as we will get him cheap. In some respects if he hadnt been injured i dont think we would have found out just how good Clay is. lets hope Ellerbe and Wheeler recapture the form they showed that led to us signing them. I am an optimist and i think they can.

    You cant deny through that our run defence sucked and it sucked due to awful LB play. Our D line is top class so it wasnt their fault. Thats on Ireland too. What will we do with Jordan? The pick does look iffy when you look at the depth and quality of our D line. When will he play? Who will he replace? You dont pick a guy in the top 5 of the draft to be a bit player. Why cant we play him as an OLB? He looks like he has all the tools to be a stand out at that position or would we have to switch to a 3-4 for that to work? what do you think? Its interesting times for sure and i hope we find out who stays and who goes in the next few days. We can’t afford to wait longer and doing so makes us look behind the curve.

    • Paul L. Picken, Jr

      I agree with your response. Ellerbe and wheeler were sub par in a lot of ways, but there were some areas they did better than Dansby and Burnett did here last year. One of the biggest struggles the fins had was that it took Vernon a while to be “ok” against the run, and that Soliai was hurt on and off all season. I’m not saying the linebackers played up to snuff, either, but if the line is dropping into coverage both they and the linebackers are out of position to play the run. I’d put some of the run defense on the linebacker play, but some also on scheme and quite honestly a ridiculous amount of substitution packages.

      Dion Jordan not playing, however, is on the coaching staff. A group of us spoke with Jeff while in Miami the weekend of the first Buffalo game, and one of the players that he and others in the front office were urging the staff to use DJ more but the coaching staff was sticking pat to their stance on rookies.

      It’s refreshing to me to hear someone else put out there the fact that Ireland wasn’t calling the shots in the Parcells days, btw. People put a lot of blame on him for decisions that Parcells made.

  • Kevin Schork

    Here is the bottom line, When we got the lead, Our defense played not to lose,instead of playing to win,(keep being aggressive)that’s on the coaches, 2nd) Miami simply could not adjust at halftime. Also on the coaches, and finally If we had a better O-line that would change every dimension of the game..

    • Paul L. Picken, Jr

      Kevin, I agree. Our offensive line, on paper to start the year, should have been average. The issues with the cadence and play calling mask any strengths the o-line had by putting them in position to fail – which puts some of the blame on the coaches as well.