Jeff Ireland’s failure in free agent acquisition and acorn philosophy has left the Dolphin roster constantly churning and unable to develop players. Only 20 of the 61 FAs brought in by Ireland remain on the roster, exclude the 23 players from this off-season and only 8 remain. This means, excluding this year, only 21% of Ireland’s FAs have secured a roster spot.
20% of Ireland’s FAs have come directly from Dallas. Selecting only one player from each of the 32 NFL teams represents 3%, meaning Ireland has selected 7 times more players from Dallas than the rest of the NFL. 56% of the players Ireland has traded for have come from Dallas, representing a serious personnel issue. Either Ireland’s NFL scouts have complete tunnel vision, or they are not doing a very good job.
The genius of churning the roster sounds great on the surface, but when the smoke clears, the coaching staff is constantly trying to bring players up to speed. Ireland’s team does a good job of drafting, but it seems the back end FA moves only keep the roster churning. Add names like Wilson, Wilford, Green, Grove, Smiley, Columbo, etc. to the mix, and it is easy to see why the Dolphins are 0 – 3.
Somehow, Ireland has flown under the radar and allowed Tony Sparano to take the heat for his abysmal FA performance. Clearly, this surface view of the team has clouded Steven Ross and most Dolphin fans. Sparano must coach different players every week and it shows in the continuity on the team.
This regime promised to follow the proven example of building through the draft. Building through the draft doesn’t come from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd or even 4th round, it comes from developing players from the bottom 3 rounds. After 4 years, it is easy to see Ireland should stay completely out of the FA market and allow his coaches to develop drafted talent.
FAs are either players looking for a payday, players not good enough to make a roster, players with injury issues or players with personality problems. The bottom line is, delving in the FA market is a crapshoot and comes when teams are desperately trying to fill gaps they were unable to draft. A GM who performs poorly in the bottom end of the draft tries to make up for it by adding other team’s failures.
Now we understand why great coaches insist on having control of personnel. Sparano has not proven to be a great coach, but he has had little help from his GM. By sneaking off with Ross on the Harbaugh adventure, Ireland has shown he does not believe in his coach. Tony Sparano has been set up to fail and it goes all the way back to Bill Parcells who created this structure without realizing the magnitude of Jeff Ireland’s ego.
If the Dolphins continue to lose, Tony Sparano is the easy goat, but if Steven Ross does not see the snake in the grass at GM, he’s setting himself and Dolphin fans up for further disappointment. Save the acorns for squirrels and stick with the draft. Be the team allowing problems to move on and build from within. If nothing else, players will know the system and the coaches can develop talent and stop looking over their shoulders waiting for acorns to drop.