probably been one of the most, if not the most, embarrassing weeks of Stephen
the second coming of Dan Snyder, Ross overreacted to the irrational criticisms
from media and fans alike and fell into madness by meddling in the teamís football
affairs. The results were predictably disastrous.
To put it
bluntly, Ross got royally burned. And he deserved it.
He bungled a
coaching search where one was not needed, bungled it as badly as one could be
bungled. He trusted the wrong people (i.e. Carl Peterson, former Chiefs GM who
won NOTHING in all his years there). He alienated himself from Tony Sparano and
perhaps Sparano from GM Jeff Ireland as well. And he may have crippled his
teamís chances of hiring a top notch offensive coordinator.
than all that, Ross labeled himself as the latest in a line of sadly incompetent
owners who pretend to understand football but fail badly at it. This places an
ugly stigma on the team and scares away the best coaches and free agents who
want nothing to do with an incompetent, meddling owner.
And we were
complaining about the teamís fight song!
And now here is
Ross, where he should have been a month ago, signing Sparano
to a multi-year contract extension. Instead of allowing his passions to
dominate clear thinking, he should have been working to preserve stability in
leadership and philosophy. In short, he should have kept his eye on the ball
and his fanny out of the way, like he promised when he bought the team from H.
But like the
old saying goes, crying about spilt milk wonít help. Itís time for the Dolphins
to move forward.
they need to do it.
Sparano to a multi-year deal
credibility took a major hit this week, and itís Rossís fault. So Ross set to
work on an extension, but reportedly hit some sort of snag that forced the
cancellation of a press roundtable to announce the extension. Weíre not sure
what the problem was, or even if the problem was related to the extension, but Ross
has little leverage right now and precious little time
to get the Dolphinsí house in order. Whatever the snag is, Ross needs to fix it
fast; it will cost him a lot less than what he was stupidly going to pay Jim
Harbaugh, a college coach with a paper thin resume. Now Ross just needs to
concede and fly back to New York for the offseason to lick his wounds and
consider the painful lessons learned from this fiasco.
2) Hire an
Iím not sure
now how Sparano plans to do this given the recent events, but my hunch here is
that he has a plan in place to quickly move forward. Part of the solution is a
new iron clad contract that restores his pride and security as head coach. The
other part is his relationship and reputation, which carries the imprimatur of
Bill Parcells. In all of this chaos, remember that Parcells is still a Dolphins
employee and will help Sparano anyway he can.
3) Solve the
step in making this happen is for Sparano and Ireland to sort out any
differences they have in the wake of the season and the current weekís events.
Itís not altogether clear to me what Irelandís true role was in all the madness
this week, but it is imperative that Sparano and Ireland get past anything
still standing between them. Once that happens, and I do have some doubt that
it will, the two men will evaluate the current roster, the draft, and free
agency. Is Chad Henne salvageable? Is Vince Young worth a shot? Is there a
college passer with the goods that can be had with the 15th overall
pick? These are very important questions. This regime cannot afford another
screw up at the most important of positions.
4) Fix the
line is the engine of a football team, and the Dolphinsí engine is sputtering. The
two starting tackles, Jake Long and Vernon Carey, are fine. Whatís needed are
two guards and a strong center who can handle the dominant nose tackles in the
AFC East: Vince Wilfork, Kyle Williams, and Kris Jenkins. Thereís some thought
that the physical Richie Incognito is best suited for the center position. If
true, then two new guards must be the top priority after QB. Depth is an opportunity
as well with top reserve Nate Garner coming off a season ending injury.
Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams
players were the cogs that made the Wildcat come to life and gave the Dolphins
one of the best running games in the NFL in 2008-2009. Given the teamís needs
(above), it is unrealistic to expect that they will find better in the draft.
Free agency doesnít seem to offer a clearly better alternative. With Ronnie and
Ricky being the least of the teamís problems, and the speedy and talented Kory
Sheets healthy now and back in the mix, the Dolphins would do well to re-sign
many other needs for sure, but these five steps represent an important and
meaningful beginning that will heal the wounds and bad feelings from the season
and this past week.
Dolphins are going to have a press conference to start to clean up the enormous
mess. Their agenda is simple: create a face of harmony and unity.
But talk is
cheap and credibility is low for the current regime and owner. So be very
skeptical of anything coming from them at this point in time. This includes
Sparano. A lot of damage was done these past four weeks, and Ross, Ireland, and
Sparano all had a hand in it.
From now on,
actions will speak loudest.