The Dolphins have been a whirlwind of activity the past dozen offseasons, and this one promises to be as intriguing as any, because, after all the building and rebuilding the franchise has done since last winning a playoff game in 2000, things are still not quite right.
But unlike so many of the past few offseasons, this one won’t include a fateful search to fill one of the top three jobs within the organization.
The Dolphins are not going to be shopping for a general manager this offseason as they did after the 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007 seasons.
The Dolphins are not going to be shopping for a coach this offseason as they did after the 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011 seasons.
And the Dolphins are not going to be shopping for a starting quarterback as they did after the 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011 seasons.
The Dolphins, barring a major change of direction from ownership, will enter this offseason stable at general manager, coach and quarterback.
That’s great if you’re owner Stephen Ross, who is a fan of stability, believes continuity is key to a franchise’s success and was admittedly surprised by how hard a coach search was last season when he had to lead one.
But for all the appearance that Miami has finally filled the club’s three most important football jobs, the truth is we still cannot be absolutely certain about any of the men working those three posts.
Start with general manager Jeff Ireland. Not one word has been breathed within the organization of him being in trouble even if the Dolphins lose Sunday and finish with a losing record for the fourth consecutive season.
Yes, he will be evaluated after the season, as everyone in the organization will. But the man survived a coaching change last year and has set the team up for a great offseason by amassing five picks in the draft’s first three rounds and having about $46.8 million in salary-cap space to fill for 2013.
The coming offseason promises to be a general manager’s dream, and Ireland has done fine work authoring the circumstances for that grand opportunity. So it’s highly unlikely he’ll be going anywhere.
But even as he has set the stage a big offseason, a vast majority of Dolphins fans still have no confidence the Miami GM can make the best of the chance he has created.
On radio shows, blogs, and across the Internet, fans still show no confidence that Ireland will be able to turn the Dolphins into a winner despite all the resources he will have at his disposal this offseason.
In their eyes, indeed, in truth, Ireland must prove himself this offseason to gain the public’s trust and retain Ross’ favor. In their eyes, Ireland must succeed this offseason to be considered a success.
Ireland was a key contributor to last year’s coach search that found Philbin after Jeff Fisher turned the Dolphins down. And the reviews on Philbin are positive so far.
Philbin is singularly focused on winning the next game and rarely strays from that message. No, he wasn’t good enough to get the Dolphins to the playoffs. And outside his simultaneous practice repetitions during training camp, Philbin hasn’t exactly been an innovator.
But this club was considered among the NFL’s worst teams after a winless preseason. And they are not that now.
Philbin said his priority this season was to have the team playing better at the end than in the beginning. And he believes that has been accomplished.