Forget about finding a coach. Find the Miami Dolphins’ real problem through the lost years.
When Steve Ross bought the team in 2009, new team chairman Mike Dee, a marketing executive, told footballers who previously reported to vice-chairman of football Bill Parcells to report to him. This has caused “communication and collaboration” issues to quote a recent phrase. Parcells left the team.
When Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland secretly interviewed Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, it ended communication and collaboration between Ireland and coach Tony Sparano. Even their wives stopped talking. Sparano was later fired.
Ireland soon had communication and collaboration problems with new coach Joe Philbin. So does Philbin and new football overseer Dawn Aponte with general manager Dennis Hickey. Just like Philbin with his entire team leading up to Bullygate.
Everyone was still communicating and collaborating so poorly in 2016, Chris Grier said after being promoted to general manager to start a new era: “The talk of dysfunction within the organization is over.”
It wasn’t over. They did not address the real problem. This continued into the days of Coach Adam Gase and VP of Football Mike Tannenbaum as the land grab continued over who had power within the team. Each was fired after three years.
Then, in 2019, Grier hired Brian Flores as a coach. However, he must not have communicated and collaborated properly with him. Grier went along with Ross and team president Tom Garfinkel’s plan to tank a season (or two) — even if they didn’t call it that — by trading good players for draft picks.
Flores disagreed with this plan from day one. He trained to win. No one stopped him inside the organization. So the Dolphins sacrificed a season (now three), but Flores won two meaningless games at the end of 2019 and lost the holy grail of No. 1 draft pick.
Last week, Flores was fired for “communication and collaboration” issues, as Ross put it. As if it were a new problem in the operations of this team.
Here’s the problem the Dolphins always have: what’s the problem? Seriously, they don’t see it. They keep throwing a fresh coat of paint on a poorly built house and saying it’s beautiful.
Everyone’s attention is on who the Dolphins should hire as a coach. But the Dolphins’ problem right now isn’t who.
How are they going to structure this organization? How are they going to decide who is responsible? Is it Dee or Parcells? Aponte and Philbin or the general manager? Gase or Tannenbaum? Grier or Flores?
Grier or the new coach?
It has never been clear who is in charge of the football team during Ross’ failed 13 years. This is step A here. Get a sharp football mind and strong personality and task them with making hires that put an end to those constant communication and collaboration issues.
This will end the internal malfunction. This is a first step in the right direction. It gives everything else a chance to work. This will not guarantee success, of course.
Former Dolphins owner H. Wayne Huizenga made some excellent hires in that plan that didn’t work out as hoped. Jimmy Johnson. Nick Saban. Bill Parcells. Only Johnson left the team gradually better than he found it.
But you saw why each of them was hired. You always do, don’t you? Did Ross do a hire in 13 years and say, “OK, that should work out?” You have crossed your fingers in many cases. But crossing your fingers isn’t the idea of a good plan, is it?
You know what’s going on right now: the same group of Ross, Grier, Garfinkel and consultant Dan Marino are interviewing candidate coaches. They will sort through their various proposed plans and teams and decide who is best suited here.
The profile will be a nice offensive coach given that Flores was a disciplinary defensive coach. Ross prefers rookie coaches who rise to reflect his professional hires. Maybe after being burned by coaches for the first time for 13 years, he’s turning to a veteran this time.
But the coach does not solve the problem of the Dolphins. Who takes care of football? This is the problem. It’s not Grier. He’s a nice guy. But Flores was the Alpha personality that dictated how everything worked.
Like Gase, Flores clawed back more power from the front office over his three years. Ross left them too. And you wonder how things get dysfunctional?
Ross wants to win. He doesn’t know how. He hasn’t from the start when he allowed a marketing guy like Dee to win over a football guy like Parcells.
“Communication and collaboration” is not a new issue that led to Flores being fired. It’s a matter of organization. Who is really responsible? If Ross doesn’t fix this, he’ll be back here in a few years.
Sport News | A coach? A GM? Here’s the never-ending problem inside the dysfunctional Dolphins – The Denver Post