Armando Salguero

Stephen Ross promises not to waver from long, new process of rebuilding the franchise

Miami Dolphins’ owner, Stephen Ross, discusses the firing of Head Coach Adam Gase

Miami Dolphins' owner, Stephen Ross, discusses the firing of Head Coach Adam Gase during a press conference at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, FL.
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Miami Dolphins' owner, Stephen Ross, discusses the firing of Head Coach Adam Gase during a press conference at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, FL.

Stephen Ross has a challenge for you. Actually, the challenge was directed at me, but since I’m a nobody and the only reason I get an audience with the Miami Dolphins’ owner is because I represent you, he’s really challenging you.

And this is the challenge:

If the Miami Dolphins in the next several years abandon the course of their new, current rebuild philosophy, Ross wants us to call him out on it publicly.

So he’s making something of a pledge here.

“I’m looking at it now like I build every business, building from the ground up,” Ross said Tuesday. “I’m prepared to stick with it. And you can call me out on it anytime you want. ‘Hey, you know what? You’re abandoning your ideas.’

“I am committed.”

This is good to know. And it’s comforting. Because the club’s owner, after 10 seasons of approaching the building of the franchise one way, is taking a 180-degree turn another way starting this offseason.

And since we now wonder which of these approaches is the real Stephen Ross, one wonders if he’s truly committed to the new way. Ross himself recognizes this concern and calls it “fair.”

And he repeats he’s steadfast about this new way, the Ross way, the way he says he used in building his business empire.

“It’s building a franchise to sustain itself over a period of time,” Ross said. “That’s what you want. You don’t want be, ‘Hey, we made the playoffs this year. Now I got to wait four more years? I don’t know.’ You know? But look at the growth and look at the kind of guys we’re drafting, look how their growing, and the commitment of the staff and this organization behind them.

“It feels like this is more me.”

To hear Ross describe the coming process, the Dolphins are not going to be big spenders in free agency this year or any year in the near future. They’re going to concentrate on the draft. They’ve going to look for value trades if available. And when they do dip toes in free agency, it won’t be for, say, an Ndamukong Suh type deal that suggests the team is one player away from a championship when it really isn’t.

This has the potential to be a long, arduous process, folks. And it’s almost certainly going to be painful. So don’t be surprised if some people balk. Don’t be surprised if fans stay away late in seasons if (when) the team struggles.

But Ross says he’s willing to endure the pain.

“If I have to get [pain], yeah,” he said. “I want to win all the time but sometimes you’ve got take a little pain, recognizing the facts – we’re a young team, we’re drafting, we’re not signing all these guys. It’s all going to be the talent. That’s what it is at the end of the day, finding guys who are motivated, who want to play ball. It’s not all about money, it’s about winning. And that’s what you’re looking for.”

Ross talks about coming to this process after realizing what he’d been doing, or allowing, the past decade wasn’t working. So he made the change to the long view.

He made sure general manager Chris Grier was agreed. Then he told all his coaching candidates, including Brian Flores who was hired, that this was the way it would be.

And everyone accepted this road.

“Yeah. I think you have to be on the same page,” Ross said. “A lot of coaches didn’t want to be there, and going through that. First of all, like you say, you’re skeptical if I believe in [the process] when things go wrong and we lose a few games, right? Well, the coach is more worried about his job. I’m still going to be there, you know?

“The coach is putting the pressure on you: ‘Hey, I need this and I need it now.’ And so when you decide you’re going to do it, the coach — they’ve got to believe in you — that you believe in it. Because if all of a sudden, if you don’t believe in it and don’t give them time to do their thing, they’re out of a job.

“So we had to really be on the same page. And if you’ll notice, like with Brian, most coaches sign for four years. He got a five-year contract.”

The methodical approach to building is fine especially when we understand what the Dolphins were doing previously didn’t work. But this way requires not just good but stellar drafting the next few years by Grier. And it will require not good player development, but stellar player development from Flores and his coaches.

Those are the unknown variables that can derail everything. The Dolphins must stack one great draft atop another and the players must produce bigtime for this process to go anywhere.

And while that happens Ross and the fans will have to remain patient for a payoff.

“It’s going to be a young team and I want to see it grow,” Ross said. “You know, at the end of their season I’m sure it’ll be a better team than when it started. Because there’s going to be a lot of young ballplayers that are going to have meaningful positions. And then we’ll know what the following year we’ll have to bring in to replace them. Hopefully we make the right decisions up front.

“I’d love it to be two years, you know? But you got to be realistic. Hopefully we make the right decisions ... And we are a young team but there’s positions we need to get better at. And, you know, you’re not going to go buy those positions. You have to draft them, and build them, and grown them.”

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