First let me say I like Tony Sparano….as a person. I believe he tries as hard as he can to make the Dolphins a successful organization. However, it is not working and while I like Tony, I like my Fins more. Stephen Ross would be wise to cut ties with Tony as well as “most” of his staff sooner rather than later, and here is why.
- It has been over 3 years and with the exception of his 1st year, there has been no sign of improvement. The last two seasons have been below 500 and the home record is nothing short of dismal. That is not good news for an owner that wants to win and fill seats. I give Tony partial credit for the 11-5 record in his 1st year, but believe most of the success was a result of having the NFL’s weakest schedule after a disastrous 1-15 season, and a career year for Chad Pennington. Let’s not forget, that year was also the year of the Wildcat and the last year of Parcellian coaching influence. Whether you like Parcell’s or not, you have to admit he is a huge upgrade over Tony.
- Tony has lost “his team”. This fact alone is sufficient reason to make a HC change. Rumblings from the locker room began last year and has festered into what amounts to finger pointing to find fault. It was evident there were problems shortly after Ricky Williams criticized Tony for his coaching methods. Soon after, both current and former players reitterated that there were troubles. Most recently, players have openly complained about the poor practice methods saying the team is ill prepared for game day. The lack of physical preparation was most noticeable on the opening game at home when several players came out due to cramps or dehydration. The heat and humidity of Miami was once an advantage to the well conditioned Fins. No more. In fact, there are “lack of conditioning” injuries such as hammys and groins than I ever remember.
- Tony has made poor personnel decisions. This may not be all on Tony and might not be Tony’s fault at all. Being on the outside, one cannot be sure how much influence, if any any, Tony has with Jeff Ireland. While the recent drafts have been good, the hiring of inexperienced staff members and signing and cutting of some of the players are real head scratchers. Whether it is all on Tony or not, all the fans know is the product we see on Sunday’s, and the guy wearing the Head Coach hat. If indeed it is not all on Tony, then Jeff Ireland should be dismissed as well.
- A coach on the hot seat, which Tony clearly is, may not make decisions based on what is best for the future of the organization. Remember when Ross extended Tony’s contract for 2 years and told the FO to “draft for the be future?” That is now out the window. Tony knows he must win now and will likely make personnel decision based on winning now instead of the future. There is less than 3 weeks before the trading deadline. Time will tell. I just hope the FO doesn’t do anything drastic to hurt the future, such as trading a promising rookie for an aging veteran.
- Finally, the organization needs a fresh start. There is still a stench of the Bill Parcells “error” and while Bill improved the roster, all the puppets he left behind are most definitely unqualified for their perspective positions and detrimental to the organization.
You may or may not agree with my assessment and opinion of what should be done to improve the franchise. I do not express this opinion lightly or without long thought. I have been one of the biggest advocates of establishing stability in the organization from the owner to the guy that sweeps the parking lot, and hate the thought of even further change. It was not without heartache I recommend a man lose his job, but this team is clearly headed in the wrong direction. Mr. Ross needs to do what is right for the franchise and the sooner the better. There is no reason to think things will improve, regardless what happens in San Diego on Sunday.