With Jeff Ireland now in the Miami Dolphins’ rearview mirror, the team can now begin searching for its next general manager. Fans won’t have to wait long either. Team CEO Tom Garfinkel indicated Wednesday that interviews would be coming on Friday.
Garfinkel also said the Dolphins would be looking for “someone with a lot of experience evaluating talent, a proven track record of evaluating talent and a football person.” Filling out the Dolphins’ entire wish list would be difficult for any candidate. That being said, the Dolphins have the ability to take their time to ensure they pick the best person for the job.
The next GM in Miami will have to deal with the mess that Ireland created in his last ditch bid to put the Dolphins in the playoffs. In what would become his final offseason with the team, Ireland through roughly $250 million in free agency, likely hoping that the sudden influx of talent would push the Dolphins over the top and into the playoffs. Had Miami been able to finish the season strong, Ireland would likely still be with the team, but the Dolphins collapsed and the search for a new GM is on.
In addition to the salary issues the Dolphins have to evaluate, the team’s next GM will also be forced to stick with Joe Philbin as the team’s head coach, at least for a season. This is where Miami’s decision to fire Ireland and retain Philbin could become a serious problem. When a team is sold, the new owner wants his own guy as the general manager, the GM wants his own head coach, and the head coach wants his own guy at quarterback. When there’s a gap in that chain, scapegoats are easy to come by, and lame ducks are created.
We saw this exact scenario play out with the Jets last year. Rex Ryan entered 2013 without much hope for keeping his job beyond the end of the season, but his players got behind him, the Jets ditched the circus atmosphere, and they finished just out of the postseason. Ryan was able to keep his job because Jets owner Woody Johnson was behind him the whole way. That’s something that may not happen in Miami.
In two seasons with the Dolphins, Philbin’s squads have gone 7-9 and 8-8 respectively. If he’s unable to push his team over the hump next season, there’s absolutely no doubt Miami will be searching for a new head coach, barring a rare season where a 10-6 or 11-5 team misses the playoffs of course.
Instead, the Dolphins probably should be blowing it up completely, similar to the way the Chiefs and Jaguars did a season ago. Everyone was sent packing and a new regime was brought in. By doing it that way, the Chiefs and the Jags guaranteed ongoing cohesion through what could be a rough couple of years. Jacksonville posted a record of just 4-12, but there was never a hint of hot seat talk with anyone high in their food chain. That’s because they replaced everything last year. That cohesion won’t exist in Miami next season.
Ireland didn’t leave the Dolphins in a terrible position. Quite the opposite, he left a team that has enough talent to make it into the playoffs with consistent play and perhaps a small infusion of more young talent. The pieces are in place, but if the Dolphins pick a GM with a mind for building the roster the way he wants it, Miami could regress in the coming season.