Stephen Ross made another mistake in hanging his hat on Jeff Ireland. Regardless of whether he thinks Ireland has done a good enough job to remain, Ross has handcuffed his ability to hire a named coach, like Cowher, Fisher or Gruden by not firing Ireland. There are other reasons these coaches will pass on the Miami job, a fan base that does not show up for the games and is hypercritical in the media, the lack of a franchise QB and a city that has too many distractions for the players.
By keeping Ireland, Ross has set his table for rejection by these men who will be looking to choose their own personnel man. The lack of a franchise QB means the coach will be at the mercy of the direction Ireland decides to go at that position. Every coach knows he will live or die with the player behind the center. Overcoming the city and the fans can happen by putting a winning product on the field, but without a personnel man of their choosing or a franchise QB, it is unlikely.
Imagine Fisher at the interview table with Ireland, “coach, what were you thinking when you drafted Albert Haynesworth and Pacman Jones?”
Fisher, “their chances of making it in the NFL were slightly better than Pat White…”
Ireland, “coach, did you question Vince Young’s maturity before drafting him?”
Fisher, “did you really think Chad Henne had a better chance of being a franchise QB?”
If anyone ever considered being transformed into a fly, it would have to be the one on the wall of that meeting room. These are not men who would take to answering questions from a weasel like Ireland, being in the same room would be tough enough. Ross has taken those names off the table by siding with Jeff Ireland.
Ireland is viewed as a GM who sold out his coach. The NFL is a closely-knit fraternity of men who sacrifice their lives and their bodies to play a brutal game, where the word “team” includes everyone in the organization. The moment Jeff Ireland committed mutiny by not going down with Sparano; he proved he could not be a trusted member of the fraternity. His name fits him well now, because Jeff Ireland is on an island.
Ross has made the fatal mistake of not respecting the depth of the fraternity he bought into. The men who are in the position to select the team they will coach, men like Cowher, Fisher or Gruden, have marked the Dolphins off their list. Ross will soon learn this lesson when he tries to interview these men and they decline.
The hope for Dolphin fans of seeing one of these men as the next coach in Miami is gone. Ross made his bed with Ireland and when the Dolphins finally name an unheralded, obscure coach, it should come as no surprise to Miami fans.
Sparano will get the last laugh because that same fraternity knows, the one man in Miami who proved his loyalty was Tony Sparano.
Unfortunately, the misery in Miami is far from over and will continue as long as Ross is unable to see the fox in the hen house.