When the Miami Dolphins scored a grand total of seven points and gave up a combined 39 in Weeks 16 and 17, which assured they would be missing the playoffs for the 11th time in 12 years, someone’s head was expected to roll.
Logically, someone had to be held accountable for what was a complete collapse, choke-job or however else you want to classify such a dismal finish. Something is clearly flawed about a team that played so poorly in back-to-back games with a postseason berth within its grasp.
Whether you attribute the Dolphins’ shortcomings to a lack of talent, coaching, or both, it was quite evident that change was needed to prevent something like that from occurring again and to better equip the team for consistency in 2014. So far, owner Stephen Ross has stayed the course, and it doesn’t appear that he will be deviating from it anytime soon.
Unless Ross suddenly has a change of heart, it appears as though GM Jeff Ireland and head coach Joe Philbin will remain employed by the Dolphins for at least one more season. Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, who called plays for the league’s 27th-ranked offense, will likely be terminated sometime relatively soon, although it has to be concerning to Dolphins fans that he hasn’t been yet. Still, that is a compromise the team’s fan base shouldn’t accept.
The Dolphins’ offense was predictable, unimaginative and just plain bad in 2013. However, Ireland and Philbin deserve just as much blame as Sherman for the team’s offensive woes. A revolving door of an offensive line built by Ireland and an offensive system approved by Philbin held the unit back just as much as its play-caller. Somehow, Ross doesn’t seem to get that.
I understand, to an extent, his willingness to give Philbin one more year. He’s been a strong supporter of Philbin’s all along and clearly believes in the vision of discipline and integrity that the head coach is trying to instill in his team. But, continuing to allow Ireland to oversee signings and make draft selections is potentially putting the Ryan Tannehill era in jeopardy.
Any GM can throw money at a player, but to build a true contender, he must be able to consistently load up on talent in the draft. Ireland has yet to prove he is capable of such, leaving much to be desired in each of his three drafts without Bill Parcells‘ tutelage. His 2013 class played the fewest snaps in the entire league.
Yet, somehow, Ross is willing to give Ireland the keys to the 2014 offseason, which will be a critical one that will require the rebuilding of the team’s offensive line. Ireland has done nothing in the past that suggests he can be trusted with such a crucial project to the team and Tannehill’s long-term success.
Frankly, Ross’ indecision and expected unwillingness to change should come as no surprise. He’s shown his incompetence as an NFL owner since day one. Whether it was his mistaken belief that selling minority stakes of the team to the likes of Gloria Estefan, Marc Anthony and the Williams sisters could fill the void that only winning could fill, or awkwardly pursuing Jim Harbaugh while Tony Sparano was still the Dolphins’ head coach, Ross has facilitated the franchise’s increasing perception as a joke.
Ross has done some good things for the team, like buying thousands of tickets to assure that there will be no local television blackouts and, at least on record, committing to keeping the Dolphins in Miami. But time and time again, he’s proven incapable of making sound decisions that would benefit the team on the field.
Ross desperately wants to win. He deserves credit for that. But, his decision-making on the football end of the spectrum has been detrimental to said desire. Making no changes to how the team is run or assembled after the disappointing season that just transpired would be another mistake by Ross that further damages his credibility as the right head for the organization.
Dolphins fans deserve better than what they’ve been subjected to by the team’s coaching staff and GM. And if they’re not given better, the same can be said about the owner.
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.