Jeff Ireland is less than two weeks away from the biggest moment of his career as a General Manager. Although Ireland has been the General Manager of the Miami Dolphins since 2008, the 2012 NFL Draft will only be his second draft without the influence of the man who lured him away from the Dallas Cowboys, Bill Parcells. Parcells hired Ireland and publicly claimed that the new GM would have the final say on all personnel decisions, but who really believes that to be true? It wasn’t until Parcells left the organization line the latter half of 2010 that Ireland truly began to take control, and even then Parcells interjected as a daily adviser. That makes it safe to assume that even 2011’s NFL Draft had some of Parcells’ fingerprints on it. This year is different. This year it is all Ireland.
Not to say that last year’s draft was bad. The choices may not have made everyone happy, but when does that ever happen? Regardless, all but the seventh round pick of last year’s draft class is currently on the roster, and the team saw a decent amount of production from nearly every pick.
Even with the decent drafting, Miami started the season 0-7 and finished the season 6-10, and have done little to improve the team though this year’s free agency. This has had fans begging for owner Stephen Ross to get rid of Ireland, many feeling that he is the reason for the Dolphins’ woes. In response, Ross has publicly stood by his man, and is asking the fan base to allow the front office to execute its plan before executing the GM.
Honestly, Ross is not going too far out on a limb here; after all, Ireland was a successful scout for 11 years of his NFL career.
Scout or not, Ireland is in a tricky spot. The pressure has been on the Dolphins management to secure a franchise quarterback, so they may feel the need to draft an unproven quarterback, such as Texas A&M‘s Ryan Tannehill, with 8th pick in the draft. This would certainly draw the ire of those who realize this is too high of a price to pay on a player that comes with such uncertainty. If he decides that drafting a QB at 8 is too much of a risk, then the fans will hate him for letting Tannehill slip through their fingers. Yes, Ireland is in a tricky spot indeed.
The results of this draft could end up being the Ireland’s saving grace, or his final demise. Ross is only going to be able to take so much bad publicity before making a change, and bad publicity seems to be all the Dolphins have gotten lately.
This is why this draft is so crucial for Ireland to get right. It is the shield that has been protecting him from a very disgruntled fan base for the last few weeks, and a solid draft may buy him enough time to get the franchise moving in a positive direction.