July 27 2012; Davie, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin (right) talks with Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland (left) and owner Stephen Ross (center) during practice at the Dolphins training facility. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Ross Has Little Options For Dolphins Future


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.

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Tags: Jeff Ireland Joe Philbin Miami Dolphins Stephen Ross

  • Mike

    What do you mean ? put the scanal aside, the season was a wreck. That;s he needs to focus on. FIRE them all for god sakes;. Ross is looking like a pussy here. if report comes back with coaching having no idea of what went on then so be it. They still coached 2 bad seasons and a debacle end to this year. Plain and simple people you are reading to much into this. Ross can do whatever he wants he’s the owner. My God what a joke.

    • Smitrock

      You can’t just fire everyone, we’re trying to recover from the mess sparano left. If the HC refuse to get rid of the OC, OL coach, and his son-in-law(QB coach),then he should go.

      • Mike

        That’s what Philbin is doing, he doens’t want changes in his staff. So he must go. Right now this is worse than sporano. and if you fire Philbin, then his staff goes. So that would be a clean slate. Keep Ireland if he wants but the coaches need to go. They essentially failed Ireland in what he put on the field. If anyone should stay it’s Him.

        • eric

          People need to stop panicking. Firing everyone also means more than likely losing Tannehill as well. A new coaching staff is going to want their own players, their own scheme, playbook, etc. Alex Smiths development was stumped as a result of constant coaching staff turnover. Even if the new staff keeps the players you are going to force the players to learn an all new playbook. We would actually take a step or two backwards.

  • Matt

    This is twice now you have called him David Wells, when it’s Ted Wells. David Wells was a baseball player. For god’s sake man. What kind of reporter are you Brian Miller?

    • Elvis

      I agree with you Mark. How can’t Brad Miller get these names right?

  • JohnQPhin

    What we have here is a season filled with overreaction. First, Miami beats Atlanta and Ross declares that we’re on our way after a 3-0 start. Then, we drop 4 in a row and everybody should go. Then, we have the whole “bully incident” that was completely overblown and unnecessarily dragged out by the NFL and decimated our already weak O-Line, thanks to Ireland for not replacing Jake Long. Not to mention, we lost Keller at TE before the season and it killed our West Coast offense. But, throughout this whole weird season we have a team and coaching staff who beat Indy, Cincy, NE, SD. All playoff teams. We went 8 and 8 through all the sideshow BS when we could have folded, and found out we have a solid QB in Tannehill despite being sacked 58 times with 33 drops! We were also literally limping into the final 2 games on secondary. Should Ross build on all that with quiet changes to the front office? Or, land his helicopter on the 50 yard line with some guy named Matt Higgins to overreact once again? He already did it and created an impossible situation for everybody.

    • eric

      I agree JohnQ. People need to step off the ledge and put the pipe down. This team is about where I expected them to be in year 2. When Philbin came in we had huge whorls to fill and major problems across the board. We are still moving in the right direction. The only concern I have is Sherman anemic offensive play calling… that behind said… its tough to do much when Tanny is looking up at sky from his back most of the time.

      • gofins60

        When Philbin came in, he (and Coyle) tampered with a Top 5 rushing defense by changing schemes, knocking it down to 13th. The next year Ireland swapped LBs and knocked it down to 24th. On offense, Miami had an average running game, but at least they had FB Polite for automatic 1st downs on 3rd and short. Upgrading the o-line would have improved the running game. Two years later, and the o-line is worse. Philbin did not want a FB, and his system doesn’t value the running game. Now, they can’t convert on 3rd and inches.

        Philbin and Ireland should have been filling holes, but instead they ruined the strengths of this team. Yes, they upgraded at QB and WR and can score TDs in the red zone now, but what good does that do when they can’t sustain drives and reach the red zone? The biggest strength of this team was the rushing defense, and they destroyed it.

        Ireland is not very good at talent evaluation, and Philbin is trying to build an offense that only looks good on paper.

  • J holobinko

    Get rid of all of them! Immediately! Hopefully tannehill will go to, he is completely overrated by so many people! Mr Ross you made a mistake now be a big boy and fix it. Everyone must go! Start fresh PLEASE!

  • Joe Public

    I think they should fire Philbin and his staff, this coach is not a good HC, u can tell after 2 years, not hard to figure out. As for tannehill, he needs a coach who can bring out his game, ie russell wilson, let this guy run read option plays more, play to his stengths, Sherman, Philbin and coyle all gone. Not huge fan of Ireland, but he has put together the talent, so I dont care what happens to him, this is simply bad coaching. I wanted McCoy from SD, young, aggressive etc… Philbin is old school and cant think outside box, adjust and has NO emotion. How in gods name can can we always choose the biggest idiot coaches? Mccoy or Philbin and we choose Doppy the dog.

  • kydolphin

    Why not go the Broncos route and hire a former player as a GM. It seems to be working well for them at the moment. I vote Dan Marino 2014 Phins GM.