It might surprise all of us Dolfans that Jeff Ireland has survived the firing of Tony Sparano yesterday.
Surely, Tony was fired because the Dolphins did not win enough games and therefore did not bring the fans into the stadium.
Some of the questions that I have are:
Did Tony get the right coaching personnel? Did Tony get the right players? Were the “groceries” that Jeff Ireland shopped for the right fit?
Here is why Jeff Ireland is still there:
In the area of coaching personnel, the coaches that have surrounded Tony have been a range of good to decent. After the firing of Bonamego, the special teams got better. Mike Nolan after two years has put the stamp on the defense to sack quartebacks and in the Dolphins 4 wins, it has been a very impressive showing. Dan Henning was not a good fit from the beginning, but it was put in place by Parcells and not Ireland. Brian Daboll has shown marked improvement, but I am not certain he will be around after these next three games with a new coach.
On free agency and the draft Jeff Ireland made very safe first round picks. He picked Long, but more so because Tony and Bill were enamored with Jake Long. They (probably both Tony and Bill) believed he was the next Jumbo Eliott. It could be that Tony wanted Long, but maybe Ireland wanted a QB. Matt Ryan?
Jeff Ireland hit on Vontae Davis shoring up the corner back position by creating a matchp issue for teams not to throw toward that coverage.
In addition, Ireland, when he didn’t have a second round pick traded down to still grab a very capable Defensive Linemen in Jared Odrick. He grabbed the second rounder by trading back.
Last year, he grabbed Mike Pouncey who at times has been wild with the snaps, but has shown veteran type leadership anchoring the line.
In free agency, Ireland landed free agents that have improved the defense in both Karlos Dansby and Randy Starks and on offense Brandon Marshall has been an upgrade from anything the Dolphins featured with Greg Camarillo.
This year he landed Reggie Bush and signed Matt Moore. Without both Bush and Moore, the Dolphins would be 0-16 and fighting with the Colts for the worst record.
So, if you look at the evidence Ireland has kept the Dolphins from potential pitfalls in Kyle Orton and Dez Bryant. I know you might say that not getting Dez was a bad move, but the Dolphins had just traded for Marshall and therefore did not need another distraction.
I cannot however ignore what Ireland has done wrong. Ireland abandoned his “friend” in Sparano last year when he distanced himself as management from the right hand arm of Tony when he went to California on a business trip with Stephen Ross and Jeff Ireland to lure Jim Harbaugh. Ireland proved that he can separate himself as management versus coaching. He earned Stephen Ross’ respect. If placed in that same position, you would do what Ireland did or quit.
Ireland has not taken a Quarterback with the exception of Henne, in which it may have been Parcells decision. Ireland had his chances, but for some reason he put his faith in Henne. Ireland passed on very capable passers such as Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, and Ryan Mallet.
Ireland did not replace Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown. Why? Too pricey and he figured that getting Daniel Thomas to move the pile and control games was what he could do. He just didn’t expect Thomas to be out of shape when camp opened.
So, is Ireland the worse GM in the NFL? This season?
Look at the Colts, Browns, Chargers, Bucs…do they have great GMs? Can this GM right the ship and get a better coach in place? Does he have what it takes? I believe time will tell.