Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero: Mike Tannenbaum move by Dolphins ill-conceived, poorly timed

Mike Tannenbaum helped the Jets reach the playoffs three times in seven seasons as general manager.
Mike Tannenbaum helped the Jets reach the playoffs three times in seven seasons as general manager. AP

And now the Miami Dolphins organizational chart:

General manager Dennis Hickey, who previously reported to owner Stephen Ross, now reports to new executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum. Hickey was cut off at the knees except that he maintains authority over the 53-man roster while his new boss does not — of course. Tannenbaum is Miami’s new football czar, occupying the same job last held by Hall of Famer Bill Parcells. But Joe Philbin doesn’t report to Tannenbaum. Club CEO Tom Garfinkel also doesn’t report to Tannenbaum. That’s fine because Tannenbaum doesn’t report to Philbin or Garfinkel, either.

Meanwhile, Ross, the author of this convoluted mess, is an absentee owner who spends most of his time in New York.

What could possibly go wrong?

I have no issue with the hiring of Mike Tannenbaum on its merits. The truth is he is a recycled New York Jets general manager who claims he has learned from his experiences in New York and his past two seasons as a sports agent representing coaches.

The guy is by all account a bright person.

And although Tannenbaum had notable train wrecks during his New York tenure, he also helped steer a team to the playoffs three of his seven seasons there.

So Tannenbaum per se is not the issue, although Dolphins fans with distaste for anything Jets will see it that way.

But the problem comes in that the Tannenbaum hiring was a misguided measure at exactly the wrong time and manifested in exactly the worst possible way.

Think about this: The Dolphins just finished another 8-8 season because the coaching staff failed to get good talent to play consistently up to its potential. Anyone with eyes sees this.

This season came after Hickey did solid work against long odds in his first offseason as general manager.

So seeing a team good enough to stomp San Diego and New England early in the season but fading so badly late that it lost to the Jets, the owner decided talent was his team’s greatest failing.

Ross pulled the authority rug out from under Hickey weeks after rewarding Philbin with a bold endorsement — a proclamation, by the way, that came amid a losing skid.

Ross saw exactly the opposite of what most other people within and outside the Dolphins organization saw. He saw good coaching poorly served by substandard talent.

So to fix the problem Ross didn’t go on another general manager search whereby a handful of good men could decline his overtures — again. The owner simply added another layer of bureaucracy to his (dis)organization.

Boss Ross, a man keen on half measures the past couple of times he has changed the team’s leadership, outdid himself with a, well, a one-third measure.

He should have either stayed the course or handed the whole package to Tannenbaum and told him to remake it all. But not knowing which was right, Ross only made a national mockery of the Dolphins at a time all seemed relatively quiet.

And with that, it is close to being official now ... Stephen Ross is competing for the worst franchise owner in South Florida today.

He has never been the best because his team has never been to the playoffs or even had a winning season under his ownership tenure. But he was never the worst because that ignominy went to Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria.

Ross is now worse than Loria.

Loria is terrible but he is diabolically so, allowing lies to be spewed before city fathers for his ultimate benefit.

Ross is just inept.

And that is worse.

He tries. He seriously tries to get it right. But as he’s reaching for an outside-the-box answer to solve problems, he more often than not trips over the box, pratfall-style.

Even when Ross salvages a good decision out of a bad situation, such as the Hickey hiring out of last year’s embarrassing general manager search, he ultimately stomps on his own good work.

So what was the logical, cogent explanation from Ross why Tannenbaum was hired now?

“During his time as a consultant this past season, I was able to see his impact firsthand through his commitment and passion for innovation and using every possible avenue to find competitive edges,” Ross said in a statement.

Really? The Dolphins were 8-8 before Tannenbaum joined the team as a consultant. They were 8-8 afterward.

What impact?

I asked Tannenbaum, who is no stranger to difficult questions, how his hiring made the Dolphins better Tuesday.

I would have found a way to hug him if he’d said, “I’m firing the defensive coordinator tomorrow, “or “I’m cleaning house in some significant form or fashion because this team is mediocre and that’s not good enough.”

Tannenbaum didn’t say that. His answer was more a dance than response. (I hate that, by the way, Mike.) But that’s what we have to expect because if Tannenbaum actually did wish to clean house, he’d have to go through more channels than are offered on satellite TV.

Don’t believe that? Check out the Dolphins organizational chart.

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments