Stephen Ross is a strong businessman, so we can assume the firing of Jeff Ireland was not irrational. One hopes that Mr. Ross investigated the past few years of failure in an attempt to get to the bottom of–specifically–whose fault it was.
Step one was obvious: Mike Sherman spent the last two years calling horrendous plays. He refused to call for QB sneaks on 3rd-inches and 4th-inches. He called for pass plays when we simply had to run out the clock. He called for running plays when the defense knew what was coming. We could go on and on, but suffice it to say that Mike Sherman had to go. And Mr. Ross made this happen. Not because of animosity, but because of logic. The man responsible had to go.
Removing Jeff Ireland is a little more complex. It’s too easy to blame Ireland for the Dolphins’ failures without studying Joe Philbin’s role. And in this regard, we sincerely hope that Mr. Ross did a thorough investigation. There were TEN main questions that Mr. Ross had to get to the bottom of. We hope he did.
If, after asking these 10 questions, it was discovered that Jeff Ireland was to blame for the majority of them, then firing Ireland was correct. We have to have faith in Mr. Ross that he asked the right questions.
For example, the one issue we point out repeatedly is that letting Jake Long go was perhaps Miami’s biggest mistake since Garo Yepremian’s brilliant spiral in Super Bowl VII. Jake was an All-Pro. We had PLENTY of money. We had no other left tackle. Jonathan Martin simply wasn’t good enough. (And we all found out how dis-loyal he was too.) There were a hundred reasons to KEEP Jake Long, but somebody decided to get rid of him. Who? Who? Who? We hope that Mr. Ross looked into this, and discovered that it was Ireland’s fault, and therefore gave him the boot. If it ends up that it was Philbin’s suggestion, then Philbin is the one who deserves to be fired. Sadly, we fear this was Philbin’s choice. Perhaps we’ll know someday.
Philbin has a reputation for not wanting distracting players, but he will never get that wish. Every NFL team has a cocky agitator, or an arrestee, or a past drug user. Every single team. A good coach learns how to manage his head cases and make them productive. He doesn’t stamp his feet and cut every player he doesn’t like. Ray Lewis was involved in a murder, and his coach managed that well and turned Ray into champion. Joe Philbin would have cut him. You do the math.