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.
Paul L Picken, Jr
- 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.