Jeff Ireland and the Miami Dolphins mutually agreed to part ways on Tuesday evening. The move comes after the Dolphins failed to reach the playoffs despite needing only one win in the final two games to clinch a playoff berth. Ireland served as the GM for Miami for six seasons. The team, during that stretch, has largely been a disappointment. The Dolphins will now begin the search for a new GM, and have still not confirmed whether or not Head Coach Joe Philbin will retain his job in Miami.
Moving forward the Dolphins will begin their search for a new GM, but they must decide on Joe Philbin’s future first. Typically when a new GM is brought to a team he likes to put his own head coach in place, and that makes sense, most of the time. However the Dolphins pose a unique situation. The circular motion of the Dolphins franchise for the last ten years have led some (including myself) to question the exact direction this franchise is heading. I believe that each team should have a clear formulated goal for not only each season, but for 3-5 year windows. The Dolphins don’t seem to have either.
In order for Miami to make decisions on Philbin and the new GM, they must first decide what it is they want in the next three years. Are they built to win now? Are they built to win in three years? Or are they rebuilding for five years and beyond? It seems to me entirely illogical to try and improve via free agency (Mike Wallace, Danell Ellerbee, Dustin Keller, etc.) only to turn around the following year and go 8-8.
I think the Dolphins have enough core players to win next year if they make a few improvements to the offensive line and running back positions. The question is, do they believe that? If Miami wants to win now, as owner Stephen Ross likes to regurgitate to the press on a weekly basis, then they must begin their GM search with those candidates who want Joe Philbin as the head coach. However, if the Dolphins plan on rebuilding (again) they must clean house and fire anyone with a nametag. The formula is not that difficult, and the brass in Miami needs to take a hard look around the league and realize that mediocrity as the ceiling for success is not the norm in today’s NFL. Have an immediate goal, have a three year outlook, then bring in the players/coaches/management that fit those plans.
Bottom line: Joe Philbin needs to stay and be given a chance to succeed under stable conditions. A young and motivated GM needs to be hired at Philbin’s approval. This GM should not be a household name nor should he feel the need to overhaul the roster. Additions must be made on the field while stability takes place above it. If the Dolphins can finally “mesh” from the field, to the coaches, and finally to the owner’s box, they will have a legitimate chance at actually winning in 2014. If they do not get on the same page quickly, mediocrity will once again be the norm in South Beach.