Sep 15, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross on the sidelines prior to the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Dolphins Ross Needs Distance With Philbin


It’s like a proposal you make to your girlfriend.  It’s not an engagement, it’s a promise ring.  In reality it means only that you promise not to date anyone else but that you really are not ready for the bigger commitment.  For the Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, he needs to take away the engagement ring and give himself some distance.

With the owner all but officially saying that Joe Philbin will be here in 2014, o.k. he said the new GM must work with Joe Philbin and Dawn Aponte so I guess that is official, he has left himself no way out of a tough situation.   Ross can’t afford anymore marks on his tenure as the Dolphins owner.  It’s not like  he can be fired from owning the team but fans can surely play a part in how many of them park their rears in the stadium on Sunday.

I have said before that I like Stephen Ross.  I do.  In fact of the three owners I rank Ross as the 2nd in terms of overall personal choice.  Which is funny because I like Wayne Huizenga a lot as well.  To me, Ross entered into the NFL with no knowledge of what he was getting into.  He bought the team he grew up being a fan of.  He had a high-profile management team with Bill Parcells who was going to run the entire show.  All Ross had to do was sit back and watch the team win.

Along the way he took some bad advise from Mike Dee and rolled out the orange carpet and then let his love of celebrities pour into the franchise.  It was a sideshow but a sideshow that would have been talked about positively had Parcells turned the team around.  When Parcells left he left with the only football knowledge in the building and Jeff Ireland, a new GM, was left holding the ball.  From there we got the Florida/Denver/Tebow fiasco, an ill fated trip to San Francisco, a coaching controversy, a coaching fire, hire, and now a new GM search.

The problem is that Ross is a nice guy.  Too nice.

Ross relies on the friendships he builds and the trust that comes with that.  He held on to Jeff Ireland perhaps a little too long due in part to his reliance and trust of Ireland.  The issue with Ireland however appeared when Ross hired Joe Philbin.  After Ireland irritated and distanced Dawn Aponte, the pieces were in place for a good old fashion coup with Aponte and Philbin working together to keep Aponte’s power and Philbin’s job.  That led to the proposal…so to speak.

Joe Philbin was not Jeff Irelands first choice for head coach if you believe some of the rumors.  He was Steve Ross’.  Ross, this year, doesn’t want to lose his first hand picked coach after a short two years.  He want’s to see what else Philbin can do and despite the lack of effort and intensity on the field, Ross is showing his trust in the man he hired by keeping him on board while he looks for a new GM.  A GM who at least for this year will have no say in whether or not Philbin stays in place.  That could cause a problem.

The new GM will have to accept not only Philbin as the head coach but also Ryan Tannehill as the QB.  Whether he wants to or not.  That is not to say that Ryan Tannehill isn’t the QB for Miami’s future only that the GM won’t be looking for a new one to challenge him.  Why?  Because Tannehill is Philbin’s choice and we saw last year that the GM doesn’t get to pick who plays on Sundays.

For Ross, going back to the point of this article, has put himself in a bit of a position that may be hard to back out of.  If he hires a new GM but doesn’t give the GM power at the end of the 2014 season to fire Philbin, Ross will have to do it himself or continue the engagement in the hopes that it get’s better.  Allowing the GM to have that say takes the responsibility and the decision away from Ross and thus keeps him from making his decision on trust and friendship rather than performance.  Conversely, it’s the same relationship that Ross needs to have with his new GM as well.

Ross needs to trust his people to the point of doing their jobs with the Miami Dolphins being the top priority, he needs to know that they have the best interests of his team at all times.  Ross can’t afford to trust these same people simply because he likes how they conduct themselves or because they are ‘his’ choices.  It’s a delicate line that needs to be drawn and one that Ross needs to correlate to his other business interests.  As I said, Ross is a nice guy who doesn’t want to be the bad guy.

Unfortunately, he has a team who is playing badly and have been since he bought the team.  For whatever reason, Ross needs to stay single, not engage himself to one or two people and keep his options open.  I know, it’s not a great analogy but it’s close.  Sort of.

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Tags: Joe Philbin Miami Dolphins Stephen Ross

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