Stephen Ross, the beleaguered owner of the Miami Dolphins is meeting with his general manager and his head coach. He will make a decision on where to turn after those meetings conclude. Unfortunately for Ross his back is against a wall and while he may think he has choices, ultimately he may not.
Unless Ross already has a preliminary report regarding the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin investigation, Ross needs to tread carefully or the entire organization could blow up in his face.
Consider the options he is now faced with today. He could fire Jeff Ireland and keep Joe Philbin. He could request Philbin fires one or both of his coordinators but reports suggest that Philbin does not want to do that and has contractual authority over his staff. He could retain all of them, one of them, or a couple of them. The investigation however is the kicker. David Wells has said that the report may not be finished until after the Super Bowl and if that is the case Ross won’t know what that report has in detail.
Should he announce that his coaches are staying or even his GM and the report comes back depicting knowledge of the incidents onto the staff then Ross will have to back-track and likely fire the same personnel he now chooses to keep. If he fires the coaches and the investigation comes back to show the staff had no knowledge of the situation then Ross still has the fall back of the finality of the season as his crux for making that decision.
His best cours of action should he decide to retain any of the staff should be to announce that he will await the results of that investigation before passing a final judgement on his staffs future. It wouldn’t be the first time that teams have added coaches after the Super Bowl but ideally it’s not in a teams best interest to compile new staff and scouting so close to the start of free agency. Especially if a GM is involved.
This is murky water that Ross has to wade through with no clear answers at his disposal. He can rely on his closest advisors on how to precede but his advisors won’t take the shot to the face if it’s the wrong decision. If the reports out of Miami are true that Philbin will not fire Sherman despite the request of Ross than it may be in Ross’ best interest to relieve the coach. IF that is what Ross is asking for. As for Jeff Ireland, it’s a little trickier.
Ross has an out to retain him for another season. The team that Ireland put on the field this year were playoff caliber and only needed one win to get in. That falls on the shoulders of the coaches and Ireland is likely making his case for that very thing. It’s less of a possibility that Ireland knew any details specifically of the Jonathan Martin accusations as they simply don’t filter that high up unless the HC makes it a case. Jeff Ireland does not spend a lot of time at the facility during the season as he travels scouting future players as part of his draft prep.
The question of whether Philbin or Ireland should be fired is hotly being debated right now. Names like Eric Mangini are surfacing as a GM candidate if Ireland is gone. Do Miami fans really want Mangini? Or how about former Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum? The answer will almost assuredly be a resounding no.
The biggest problem facing Ross however is the fans in the stadium. It’s not just a Miami thing as several playoff teams this year have failed thus far to sell out their own home games including the Green Bay Packers which is absolutely unheard of. Miami fans don’t support the owner, they don’t support the GM, and their support of Philbin is waning or already gone. Ross needs to make a decision that will be best for both the team and put fans back in the seats. It’s not an easy task by any measure. Ultimately only success will drive the fan base back to Sun-Life.
It’s highly unlikely Ross will make a decision today but instead will sit back and reflect on his conversations from today and then move forward with his decision.