Seven Ways Stephen Ross Has Screwed Up the Dolphins
photo by Fredler Brave via Wikimedia Commons
Update: Joe Philbin has been fired.
News flash: That still doesn't change much. READ ON...
Another week has come and gone and the Miami Dolphins are still a gigantic cesspool of a franchise. Following yet another embracing loss, this time to the New York Jets on Sunday, everyone is clamoring for head coach Joe Philbin to be canned. New Times did this last week, because we were calling for Philbin to be fired before it was cool.
And it just may happen on Monday. Or, it may not.
And that is really what's at the heart of the perpetual suckbag that has become the Miami Dolphins.
As we discussed last week, the biggest problem with the Dolphins' on-going, never ending, spiral of Groundhog Day urine cakes of ineptitude hasn't so much been Joe Philbin (although, he's a huge part of the problem). It's that owner Stephen Ross has run the team like a monkey would run a food truck.
Since he bought the team seven years ago, it's been one inept decision after another. And when he finally does fire Philbin — be it this week or at the end of the season — he's only going to replace him with the next dolt he'll eventually keep too long before firing.
Because Stephen Ross has demonstrated that, while he's excellent at real estate and being a businessman, he's out of his depth when it comes to running a successful NFL franchise.
Here are seven ways he's screwed the Dolphins, and the main reasons Dolphins fans have spiked their Monday office coffee with Bourbon:
7. He's Never Completely Cleaned House
Ross has never fully taken a flame thrower to his team and cleaned house completely. Yes, the Dolphins have been a shit sandwich under Philbin's watch, but they've been abysmal before he arrived too. The issue is, and remains, that Ross doesn't want to "start from scratch" because that's somehow seen as a bad thing. Starting from scratch means overhauling everything and it might mean some 2-win seasons are on the horizon as the crap is slowly cleaned out. But 2-win seasons are vastly better than mediocre. Because bad can become very good in the NFL very fast when the right people are hired to run things. But going 7-9 every year for seven years is vastly worst than a couple of 2-win seasons. When Ross bought the team in 2008, he hired Parcells, who ended up taking a giant old man dump on the franchise. Instead of cleaning house, Ross stuck with Parcells' hand-picked replacement, Jeff Ireland, who ended up being worse. Tony Sparano became coach, but was a failure. When Ross fired Sparano, he kept Ireland. Ross then hired Philbin. When Ireland was finally let go, Philbin was kept. When shit overlaps shit all you get is a bigger pile of shit.
6. He's Hung On to Guys Too Long
The worst culprits of the Ross era Dolphins have been the guys in charge under his ownership: Parcells, Ireland, Sparano and Philbin. Outside of Parcells, who mercifully walked when he realized he missed his horses, Ross has failed to fire the guys who were very obviously wrecking his football team when he most needed to. Ross is evidently a great business man, and has an eye for the real estate market. It's why he's a billionaire and owns an NFL team and you don't. But, for some reason, Ross lacks the awareness to realize when someone farted versus when someone pooped their pants — when everyone else in the room knows it was more than a fart. When Ireland was wrecking the franchise with his abysmal draft picks and free agent signings, Ross publicly stood by him, saying he saw "improvement" as he stood in the proverbial burning house. He did the same with Sparano, who he finally canned only after Jim Harbaugh became available after leaving Stanford. He did the very same thing with Philbin just last year, when he said he had faith in Joe.
5. He's Botched His Wish List
There's Jim Harbaugh, whom Ross has reportedly gone after twice and failed to secure — twice. The first time, Ross wanted Harbaugh to replace Sparano. Harbaugh went to San Francisco instead, despite a supposed jaunt on his private jet to California to woo Harbaugh. Last year, when Harbaugh left the 49ers, reports again circulated that he was Ross' number-one target to coach up the Fins. According to multiple reports, Ross wanted Harbaugh and would fire Philbin to hire him. Next thing everyone knows, Harbaugh took the University of Michigan job, and Philbin remains. Ross has denied that he ever went after Harbaugh. Then there was Jeff Fisher, who seemed could be the right guy to take over the team (and has done a splendid job with the St. Louis Rams). But Ross didn't want to strip Jeff Ireland of his GM powers — which is what Fisher reportedly wanted. So, the Dolphins instead went with an assistant coach at Green Bay named Joe Philbin.
4. His Front Office Structure Is A Confusing Mess
Ross has been a somewhat hands-off owner, and that's a good thing. But here's the thing. No one really knows or understands what the hell the leadership structure is with the Dolphins. In 2012, Ross appointed Dawn Aponte Executive Vice President of Football Administration and Ryan Herman as Manager of Football Administration. This, even though Ross didn't want to strip Ireland's GM powers. And while Philbin was the head coach, he still had some say in who the team would draft, except he didn't? Then Ireland reportedly butted heads with Aponte, which was apparently what led Ireland to eventually (finally!) leave. Ross then hired Dennis Hickey to replace Ireland as GM, and was told he'd be in charge of picking whatever players he chose. Hickey's first draft and off-season with Miami proved to be fruitful, and things looked to be steady. Then, Ross suddenly hired Mike Tannenbaum to be Executive Vice President of Football Operations, which is apparently different than Aponte's Executive Vice President of Football Administration, but he's till over Hickey, which meant that now Hickey doesn't necessarily get to pick the players he wants — per Tannenbaum's title. Or does he? Wait, what does Herman do? And then there's Tom Garfinkle who is great on Twitter, but what else does he do? We're sure it's something important. Our brains are bleeding thinking about it...
Last year the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero had one player on tell him anonymously, "Man, I'm part of this team and this organization, and I don't understand how the [heck] some decisions that get made around here get made. And I ain't alone neither."
3. He Foolishly Compared His Team to The Miami Heat
It was exactly two months since Ross spewed this nonsense from his face hole:
“The Heat is a different organization now that LeBron James isn’t there. I think the Dolphins are a team that are capturing the imagination of the whole fan base here in South Florida.”
Today, the Dolphins have collapsed and the local fanbase went bananas with excitement Sunday night over a pre-season Heat game.
2. He's Overly Concerned With Aesthetics
Thus far during his tenure, Ross' biggest claim to fame has been the stadium renovation. Sun Life Stadium looks great, and will look even better next season when a canopy is built. Ross is determined to make his stadium the go-to-place for major world sporting events, and has bent over backward to convince the NFL to have the Super Bowl hosted at Sun Life. When he first arrived, Ross made headlines when he sold team stakes to Gloria Estfan and the Williams sisters. He even made the club level experience fancy and modern. His team is in shambles but, hey, NEW RESTAURANTS AT THE STADIUM.
1. There’s Little Evidence To Show He’s Learned His Lesson
Every indication is that Joe Philbin should absolutely be fired this week after yet another embarrassing loss. Last year, when the Dolphins were in a similar situation, instead of canning Philbin, Ross made Joe fire offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. On Monday, reports have come out that say Ross is going to ask Philbin to again fire one of his coaches — this time around, defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. If the report ends up being true, we'll know everything we need to know about Ross. Which is what we already know.
He's the real problem here.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Broward / Palm Beach, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.