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Is Ross as clueless as it appears?
There are 9 other NFL teams that have a power structure similar to the structure Stephen Ross has tried to implement here in Miami.
Ross’s vision is a collaborative union between the coaches, GM, and the accounting side of the football operation.
Recently we’re heard that things were not working as smoothly as one would hope. There was friction between Jeff Ireland, and Joe Philbin. To what extent is up to speculation. The report stated Philbin was a strong supporter of bringing in Brandon Albert to man the LT position during last seasons free agency period. Jeff Ireland refused because he insisted the team would be okay with 2nd round draft pick Jonathon Martin.
These types of conflicts made it imperative Ross find a General Manager that could be flexible and willing to shelf his ego during times like these. Ireland drafted Martin high, and he drafted him to play LT eventually. Certainly he had to feel that benching him, or even continuing him at RT would be an indication that Ireland had made an error in judgment.
In 2012, it was my opinion that Martin was not yet ready physically to take over LT, and I preferred them keeping Jake Long for this reason. Miami tried, and failed. Could Ireland’s support of Martin have been the reason why? Keeping Long would have been risky as well, as his medical history is well documented. I am sure it was a difficult decision for those involved.
Its apparent Ross thinks very, very highly of Coach Philbin. He respects him as a person, organizer, and coach. Truth be told, he took over a 7 win team, and has kept the team stable during some trying times. That said, some have lost confidence in his abilities due to his demeanor, and lack of outward energy. Mr. Ross clearly does not agree.
It’s also been clear that several potential GM candidates did not have the confidence in Ross, or Philbin to accept the position here in Miami. There’s been a ton of speculation as to why. Most feel the structure in place will lead to power struggles within the organization. Ross has tried to contain that possibility by insisting any potential GM be willing to work with Philbin in the area of personal decisions.
This is NOT new. Ross asked the same of Ireland, and for a time it worked. There was a collaborative working arrangement between them. Ireland taking the reigns during the offseason, and Philbin had more of a say in season, but at no time was Ireland not in a position where he relinquished final say. In the Martin situation this caused friction. Who knows how many other decisions were also debated within the walls of their Davie complex?
The wildcard in this dynamic is Dawn Aponte. It’s not clear exactly how much power she holds within the organization. Some believe it was far too much. Aponte has done a masterful job of managing the team’s salary cap. In 2014 they’ll have more cap space available then 24 other teams. They’ll be some tough decisions as many key starters will become free agents, but Miami will have the flexibility to keep as many of those players as they’d like.
The prospective GM’s concern was reportedly the chain of command within the organization. If say, the coach, and GM disagreed on a particular high dollar free agent, would Aponte side with the GM, or Philbin? Who would oversee these types of situations?
Ross is not in Davie most of the time. He is in New York running his real estate companies. Certainly, he’d be in a position of not being able to lend much support. This is surely the reason he felt it was imperative that these three people share a vision, and work well together to accomplish it.
It sounds doable on the surface, but is it honestly realistic in practice? Apparently at least four people they interviewed felt they’d rather stay in their current situations then have to deal with two people (Philbin, and Aponte) who were aligned enough to cause friction between Ireland, and Ross ultimately leading Ross to consider demoting Ireland. Jeff Ireland decided to resign instead.
General Managers need the authority to make the decisions they feel are necessary to make. Is Ross’s opinion of Philbin getting in the way of this franchises chance at success? Only time can answer that. Surely, it will take three special people to succeed in this structure that is in place.
Dennis Hickey must know that this job is tenuous at best. If they fail this coming season odds seem good that at the very least Philbin will be ousted. Or will he? Ross has said just recently that he is committed to Philbin both for next year and beyond. Only time will tell if Ross is true to his word.
I believe the answer to this problem, and most of the problems the team is facing start at the top. Ross needs to take a step back. Reevaluate his contribution. If he cannot run the ship from New York, or reallocate his time to where he can spend a good deal more time in Davie, then he needs to strongly consider bringing in a Team President who can run the day to day football operation, and oversee this union between Hickey, Aponte, and Philbin.
The structure surely can work, but people need to be accountable. How can they be accountable when the boss has no idea what is going on inside the walls of Davie?
We are seen by others around the league as a front office in disarray. Only Ross can change that perception. He certainly has to know this, doesn’t he?
Or is he as clueless as some strongly believe?
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