Dolphins run by Mike Tannenbaum now, it’s his show


Where is Miami Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey? Mike Tannenbaum has taken over the team and that is evidenced by Hickey’s lack of presence at the announcment of Dan Campbell as interim head coach. It’s very likely that at seasons end, maybe even before, Dennis Hickey will no longer be with the team.

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When Ndamukong Suh was signed this off-season, Dennis Hickey sat at the table with Stephen Ross to make the announcement. Oh, how things have changed in such a short time.

The Dolphins are once again a huge mess. Tannenbaum has put his fingers into the team and it’s become obvious that the talk of Hickey being the man in charge was simply to quell NFL heat for not following the Rooney Rule when Tannenbaum was hired. He was an advisor, or supposed to be. He was to help guide the GM and the team and report back to Ross but that is no longer the case.

Miami, it would seem, has learned very little from it’s past mistakes. Stephen Ross is a good owner because he stays out of the football business but Stephen Ross is a bad owner because he relies on people that have very little real knowledge about how to build a winning franchise. Because of that, Miami is losing.

You can throw a ton of money at players and bring in all the big names in the hopes of selling tickets but you can’t please the fans when those players can’t translate to victories. All the big names and free agent money doesn’t mean a thing if the team can’t win. The Miami Dolphins can’t win. They can’t win on the field and they are losing the game off the field as well.

Tannenbaum has a lot of NFL connections and while it’s not a bad thing to utilize those connections doing so randomly and without an action plan is putting a bandaid on femoral gash. The bandaid soaks through and in Miami that bandaid is soaking through.

This is not a negative to the hiring of Dan Campbell. The move is smart for everyone. Campbell brings fire and energy. He brings a player mentality and a tough persona but Campbell is saddled with a team that lacks consistency and good coaching. Kevin Coyle is still with the team and will by all accounts remain with the team. That does nothing to make the franchise better.

Mike Tannenbaum is the new Bill Parcells. He will choose the next head coach. He will choose the draft picks. He chose last years all the while Dennis Hickey sat and watched. The Dolphins had a plan but that plan was the design of Tannenbaum. When it came to sign Ndamukong Suh there is no one that can tell me this was a Dennis Hickey play. This was a Stephen Ross and Mike Tannenbaum play.

The Dolphins went from being one of the most structured salary cap teams in the league to being in cap hell once again. They have outs for sure. Contracts are structured as such that the team can easily remove large chunks of dollars to create a large amount of space. Those changes (which will talk about in another post shortly) will have lasting effects on the roster and what little team chemistry remains.

When the season is over, Mike Tannenbaum will move to the forefront of the Dolphins public eye. He is maneuvering himself as we speak. He is becoming more than just the person Ross relies he is the decision maker now. It’s his team and everyone knows it. The Dolphins are just not saying it yet. And they likely won’t.

The biggest problem to fixing this mess is if Tannebaum doesn’t right this ship in the next year or maybe two, doesn’t hit on draft picks, and fails to hit on the right coach, the Dolphins will not have only squandered more seasons, the head of the house is not likely to make the change that would need to be made. Ross is very loyal, it’s why Philbin stayed four weeks into 2015. Tannenbaum is different though. Ross trusts him with his entire organization and because of that, Ross won’t fire Tannenbaum if Tannenbaum fails.

As much as I like Stephen Ross and his attempt to make this franchise a winning team I have to wonder why so many of his decisions have New York ties. It’s as though the only news he gets in his office all these years was about the New York Jets. While I think this has little weight or bearing on the Dolphins, we have to remember that Ross tried to buy the Jets. Why is that relevant? Only in that he did his research on the Jets. He got to know key figures within the organization and it seems as though he is leaning heavily on that knowledge.

Dan Campbell may turn this all around. Shove the team into the right direction but it won’t happen this year and it won’t happen against New England, Dallas, or the upper elite teams the Dolphins still have to face. Changing a culture within a locker room takes far more than a brash young interim head coach it takes a change of culture at the top. Saying you want to win is something anyone can feed the masses but making the right decisions is the only thing that will chage the culture.

Ross needs to change the culture. Mike Tannenbaum has quietly slid into the chair at the head of the table. We all knew that was how it would be. We just assumed that it would happen slowly instead of overnight. As Tannenbaum begins putting his fingerprint on the team the team will once again become the talk of websites and water cooler snickers. We are witnessing the change now.

If Tannenbaum is going to run the team from behind the curtain he is doing so with the knowledge that he is keeping his own job safe by not sticking his neck fully out to get chopped and when you feel safe, you don’t work hard enough to fix the problems that exist. Instead, it appears from what we are seeing now, that Tannenbaum has a new shiney toy and is tinkering with it. At the expense of the players, the fans, and any other coaches they bring in.

You don’t have to look any further to than the recent additions of “coaching advisors” to see that nothing is being done the way it should. Dan Campbell is getting babysitters. Former coaches brought in to help him learn to be a head coach. Yet you can’t for one minute tell me that Dan Campbell is the one who made those calls. Not when the coaches all have connections to Mike Tannenbaum.