It’s been almost one week since Jeff Ireland “mutually parted ways” with the Miami Dolphins. Sorry, but if you are given an ultimatum regarding your job and you decline…it’s not mutual when you lose your job. Regardless of the how and why and by whom, the Dolphins are six days into their search and it’s anyone’s guess as to who the next GM will be.
Multiple reports are tabbing Cleveland Brown executive Ray Farmer as the teams next GM. Some say that thus far he has been the most impressive. The Dolphins have interviewed Brian Gaine, the in house candidate, Jason Licht of Arizona, Omar Khan of Pittsburgh and Lake Dawson of the Tennessee Titans. The Dolphins still are supposedly going to interview Tom Gamble in the coming days as well as Mike Ross from the Giants. How or if those interviews change the scope of the process thus far is anyone’s guess.
Time isn’t a complete issue yet but ideally you would want your GM in place by January 20th to attend the Senior Bowl. That’s seven days away and Miami still has not held a second interview for any candidate.
One of the issues Miami is facing is the structure of the front office. Joe Philbin is safe for at least another year and has the full support of both Stephen Ross and Dawn Aponte. The allied front between HC and Aponte was at the center of the rift between Aponte and Ireland that may have influenced the Stephen Ross decision to strip Ireland of some of his power. What’s unknown is what power or lack there of will the new GM be facing. It’s a question that every candidate will surely ask during the interviews.
Circulating rumors insist that the interviews are conducted with Stephen Ross, Dawn Aponte, Ross adviser Matt Higgins, Carl Peterson, and new CEO Tom Garfinkel present. Although the Dolphins have neither confirmed or denied who is at those meetings. What we do know is that there is no big parade of wining and dining to find the next GM. No high-profile candidate that will have local media chasing them around. It’s been low key despite the Dolphins transparency to announce who did indeed meet with the people behind the closed door.
Farmer is a highly touted prospect for a GM post and is respected as a talent evaluator but the question really is has he done enough to be in that position now? He has the scouting experience but being a GM is much more involved and he was only in Cleveland for one season. How much could he have learned from that stint? The body of work he has produced in Cleveland is negligibly discernible in part to the presence of GM Mike Lombardi. If Farmer is going to grow into the role can the Dolphins and Ross wait for that maturity? It’s not a knock on Farmer who has exhibited a level of league wide respect.
Perhaps the closest name to being a media chaser is Tom Gamble of Philadelphia. Gamble is ready now to be a GM. He doesn’t have the financial history as other candidates but Dawn Aponte controls the cap numbers. Gamble however is one of the best personnel men in the NFL not already a GM. He helped build the team in San Francisco and has been a long time talent evaluator in the NFL. Gamble would bring a lot of impact to a Dolphins team who has suffered from a few black eyes. He is well respected in NFL league circles and if Ross could get him to take over the Dolphins, he could be the one guy who might be able to turn the team around quicker. He has learned from some very influential GM’s.
When it comes to Farmer and Gamble the only thing that really separates them is the amount of work they have to present. Gamble has more time at the top of the talent evaluation food chain and may be a year or two more ready to assume a GM’s role while Farmer comes with exceptional backing within the NFL and is close to being ready to take over a team himself. Like Gamble, Farmer isn’t a number’s guy.
Some fans have expressed their desire for Steelers financial guy Omar Khan but it would be surprising if he made the final cut. Khan is an excellent fiscal man and is ready to be a GM but he lacks the personnel experience that the Dolphins desperately need. What is for certain is that the Dolphins have some more interviews to conduct, may wait until after next weeks Conference Championship games before moving forward.
Coincidentally, the search for a new offensive coordinator isn’t nearing a conclusion either. Having a new OC for the Senior Bowl is just as important as a new GM.