Thursday, January 09, 2014

Corporate structures and fan views

I read through Armando's pieces on the Herald Blog.  I read several other people's posts on various media and fan sites.  I chatted with my contact.  And I read lots of fan reactions to the goings on....

And it occurs to me that Steve Ross is not thinking about the Dolphins in the traditional sense.  Gone from this organization are the days where you have a coach who reports to a General Manager, who reports to the owner.  And having a 'football czar' in between GM and owner also would appear to be an antiquated idea.

It would seem that Ross' thinking lies more along corporate lines.  He has a CEO, a President, several VPs at various levels, and a half dozen companies that run "the franchise"...that part is not so uncommon.  But typically, the "football side" is left alone.  It runs under the coach/GM concept.  But reading through the information we have, there are now VPs who are part of the football side.  Aponte is one such example who moved from VP of football operations to executive VP of football operations, which essentially means she took Bill Parcells' old title - but apparently she didn't run the whole show.

So its possible, and I would argue likely, the phins will not hire a traditional GM, and won't run a traditional show.  There'll be corporate titles, fuzzy reporting, some kind of checks and balances, and probably lots of mistrust in the immediate future.

And that brings me around to the fans views: its not football.  Its not about the sport.  Its not about winning.  Its about constructing an organization.  Most fans don't care about the behind-the-scenes politics.  I even read some thoughts that having a woman involved in the manly-man game of football is sacrilege. 

And isn't this the very same issue we heard when the Martin-Incognito thing broke?  We don't care what happens from Monday-Saturday; we just want the team to win on Sunday.  Just tell me about the exciting play that won the game.  The rest doesn't matter.

I think the Dolphins have become a microcosm of what is happening to football.  For once, they're ahead of the curve and leading... in the progressive move to make this a true corporation, rather than a football team.

The rest of the NFL will undoubtedly follow this.  And I still believe that we're about to see some big changes as the league tries to retain its edge. (as I cynically said a while ago, quoting from "Rollerball" -- "Game?!  This was never meant to be a game!")

And as far as Incognito-Martin, now that Ireland is gone, I bet he winds up being targeted as the focal point. Or the scapegoat if you will.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Well that was unexpected

The announcement yesterday was terse, and odd, and brought to mind still more questions.  Think about this: have you ever broken up with someone and it was "mutual" and there were no hard feelings?  Ever known anyone who has?

Yeah, it doesn't pass the sniff test.

The story I was told yesterday was enlightening.  Throughout the year, Ross and Ireland had been having 'discussions' about some things.  Nothing major, I'm told, until the bullygate, which happened under Ireland's watch, and which was kind of the last straw....Ireland was instructed to do the minimum to keep the team running. 

Part of this stemmed from the fact that Ross let Ireland spend money this year.  Remember during the early part of the season, I explained that Ross agreed to spend in order to get a sympathetic feeling for stadium money AND to put fans in seats. Mike Dee was unable to pull off the stadium improvements, and he "left to pursue other opportunities" and this follows along.  You spend a lot, you better get results - at least in terms of fans filling the stadium.

And then there was an additional little piece about how the "capologist," one Dawn Aponte, has been a player in all of this.  Dawn has been with the Fins for a few years, but has been in the NFL for a while (you can read more about Dawn here: she is a current NFL "darling" with the potential to climb into a bigger role there.  Or perhaps she on a path to become the first female GM, possibly even in Miami...

So, my source tells me that she and Philbin bonded throughout his time here, and she had some say in how well Ireland performed his duties, and that was considered in the decision to essentially demote Ireland.

Yes demote.  Ross apparently had some discussion with Ireland himself - if he were to stay, it would be in a personnel role and not as GM.  He didn't like that idea, and wanted out.

To soothe and hard feelings, Ireland will get paid for any time he has remaining on his contract - including the extension he signed this past off-season.

So now Steve Ross has some work to do.  He has to hire (or promote) a GM.  Don't be surprised if Aponte is promoted, or if someone with ties to the Jets gets the job (or perhaps a football operations VP role).  Tannenbaum, Mangini, and others are close to Ross and he could take one of them.

And another dark horse in all of this is Dan Marino, who now has an interest in a leadership role, after seeing the success of Elway in Denver - his would be a VP type role (like he had for 21 days some years ago), rather than GM.

The only "problem" here is that you have a situation where the coach is still in place, and unless its someone like Aponte (who already has a relationship with Philbin), you could still have a mess on your hands.

So Ross has some work to do, and it will take time away from his business.  Don't be surprised if you never hear about anyone who interviews, if it takes a while, and then there's a terse statement about a hiring or promotion.  He'll do this on his schedule, and with as little fanfare as he can.

Though of course, the bloggers and the media will stay on top of it, and any missteps will be reported. 

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Let Philbin Shop For His Groceries

I am not advocating making Philbin the GM too. That's too big a responsibility to combine with being the Head Coach.

But, I believe, the Head Coach should be able to determine his roster not just who starts or suits up.

I'd prefer an arrangement where the Head Coach tells the GM what he needs and wants and then the GM simply makes that happen.

The GM will oversee scouting and handle the contracts. He will report to the Head Coach all the info he gathers on certain players and let the coach decide who to draft, sign as a free agent or cut or trade.

The Head Coach needs this power.

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971

Don't let the door hit you in the butt...

Watching sportscenter and I see the dolphins and Jeff Ireland have "mutually agreed to part ways" whatever that means exactly.

And I say good riddance!  Thankfully the owner came to his senses and got rid of him.

Maniacal laugh.

I still want the coach gone. But it's a start!

Dave's take...

What Steve Ross (or as I have called him in the past "Cap'n Izzy Firepants") did yesterday could be construed as an odd move - or you could look at it as the path of least resistance from his standpoint.

First, consider this: most NFL owners make their money and then choose to run the team they purchase.  They get out of whatever business they were in, and focus on their football team.  I'm sure there are one or two that don't, but I can't think of any.  Their sports franchise becomes their life - they relish it, enjoy it, and spend a lot of time focused on it.

Ross is the exception.  His time is still spent primarily as the CEO of his real estate company, and football is kind of an afterthought.  And how many owners can you think of that live 2,000 miles away from the team they own?  ummm, none.  Because they like being a part of it.

And as the season concluded, I got the sense that he was annoyed that he had to put *any* thought into the team.  He wanted them to make the playoffs at 9-7, and stand pat for next year.  And now he had to spend some time evaluating the team - and a day at the team facility interviewing people to decide what to do next.

I have heard that both GM and coach spent time defending their positions: it was this, it was that, and we're still a good team....and Ross was surprised that they only scored 7 points in the last two games.

Plus there's the Incognito-Martin report.  It won't be out for a bit, and there's a school of thought that maybe he should do nothing now, and simply wait for the report before acting on either guy.

And so the choice from his standpoint is: do I address the team issues, or do I attack the one problem that both of them told me about (and which I can see through a lone TD)?  If I fix the broader team issue, that would mean retaining someone I trust to help me interview - and then taking time to interview folks over the course of the next few weeks - time that could be spent on my main focus (ie, real estate).  And so he took the quick and easy way out.  Coach - you hire the guy you want.  GM, you help him.

And that brings us around to the second point: Ross seems to not care about anything in Miami beyond his football team.  Look, he'll make a profit on the team whether we the fans go to games or not (and certainly people will in any case).  And if the coach and GM manage a few wins, and there's a popular player whose jersey sells well, he turns a decent profit. It doesn't matter that we might not like what he's doing...

And of course, as I've said in the past, I'm turned off by the fact that he has done nothing philanthropic in south Florida.  And then he asks "us" to pay for stadium renovations, and when he doesn't get them he spends big bucks to form a PAC to help remove people from office who spurned him.  Of course that's his right as a billionaire.  But whatever happened to spreading at least some goodwill?

He handles this team the way you might expect an absentee owner to.  And that's really too bad for those of us who live here and support (or perhaps used to support?) this team.

And so back to this decision, to fire the offensive coordinator.  The Robbie family sold this team 20 years ago, and in that time there have been countless OCs brought in, and later discarded.  For long periods, there was a new guy brought in EVERY year.  I think there have been in the neighborhood of 15 OCs in this time - and I have to ask how do you build continuity?

We also hear that Sherman is Philbin's mentor and friend.  Loyalty is a funny thing, and this can't have been easy for anyone involved.  How does this ultimately affect those involved?  And we also hear that Sherman was considered 'the man' - while Philbin was the head coach, Sherman ran the team.  Now Philbin has to go it alone.

And then there are two other things going on here: first is the fact that we hear from "a source" that Philbin and Ireland don't get along that well, and have different opinions about players - and I am told that's why the rookies got so little playing time this year.  You may recall different issues over the years where the relationships between coach and GM went wonky and caused one has to wonder how this will play out.

Second is the situation that happened just a couple of seasons ago, when Sparano was retained, and his OC (Dan Henne) was hastily replaced with Brian Daboll.  It didn't work out so well, and the offense actually went backward.  Could that happen again?  It certainly could, and it seems more likely than it working out spectacularly well.

So the owner made a choice that suited him and the way he runs the team.  But that can't make fans happy overall - and there are so many questions about what happens next....

Monday, January 06, 2014

We Need An Evil Scientist For OC

I hope Dr Frankenstein is available.

 I truly do.

Or even Dr. Frankensteen for that matter.

I hope Philbin doesn't go the safe route and hire another West Coast offensive guru.

Oh no, not that again, please.

Let's make every effort to bring in someone with so creative a genius that people believe he is mad!

Oh yeah, certifiably abnormal.

Noooo....not Abby Normal!


Someone that wants to use this athletic group of offensive weapons so unpredictably that opposing defensive coordinators won't know exactly what could be coming next.

Someone who may not even have a track record to gage and chart.

Someone so unconventional that wisdom cannot even be attached yet it will be admired.

Someone who not only gets the players fired up but totally extinguishes any doubt who will win.

Yes, a complete madman yet justifiably poetic in an offensive manner.

Turn over some rocks, open some secret trap doors and search unconventionally for the unconventional.

Boy, if I only knew who.

If I only knew.

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971

What a train wreck

News just broke that Mike Sherman has been fired.

And that would seem to signal that Ireland and Philbin are safe. Because that was Miami's only problem...right?

Okay that's it. I'm done with this team. I was really hoping for some intelligent change. Not more of the same, just to try and make us feel better.

What a clueless owner. Argue. Discuss. Doesn't matter to me. I've been a fan my whole life ... enjoy your sucky team!  Peace. I'm out.

Stay the course? Oh hell no!

This waiting game is stupid.

Jeff Ireland has no business being an NFL GM and should have been fired when Tony Sporano was. He thinks he's the smartest guy in the room, and can find all these diamonds in the rough. Drafting o-lineman early, and trading up to get a part time player. And in free agency, name me a true impact player!

And as for Philbin...he can't coach anyone up, doesn't seem like a leader, and simply because he's in charge and bully gate happened on his watch should be let go.

Mr. Ross is simply wasting precious time in looking for their replacements. This team is a joke, and it seems to me that Mr. Ross has no clue what he's doing - and that's why I suggested the petition. He should sell the team.

You're darned right I wanted them to lose!  It's the only way the owner would possibly even consider getting rid of these guys. Otherwise, we're stuck at 8-8 for the next 5 years!  Enough is enough already.

When are we gonna be contenders again?  Ain't gonna happen with these clowns.