It has become widely believed that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross will chase a big-name coach after the disastrous 2011 season ends. Per a league source with knowledge of the team’s current thinking, it’s not a given that a superstar will be courted — in large part because a big-name coach will command a big-time payday.
As the source explains it, no decisions have been made about the future. For now, the Dolphins are carefully evaluating how they got to this point, and how to apportion blame for a series of blunders that have contributed to their current predicament. The source says that Ross and company are attempting to identify whether recent personnel decisions (such as the failed decision to trade for — and pay — receiver Brandon Marshall in 2010 and the ill-advised selection of Pat White in round two of the 2009 draft) were made and/or supported and/or lobbied for by former V.P. of football operations Bill Parcells, G.M. Jeff Ireland, coach Tony Sparano, or some combination of the three. Although it would be difficult to keep Sparano absent a dramatic turnaround, Ireland could survive if it’s determined that the Tuna was the driving force for the bulk of the errors that have been made, dating back to the first decision of the Parcells regime: Passing on quarterback Matt Ryan for tackle Jake Long.
If the house is cleaned, don’t be surprised if Ross chooses to take a more conservative approach, finding men who are on the rise for a more economical price. In this regard, the Dolphins are keenly aware of the approach taken by the Falcons in the same year that Parcells rode into town on a white elephant. The Falcons plucked Thomas Dimitroff from the Pats front office and Mike Smith from the Jaguars coaching staff. Though both teams enjoyed strong and stunning turnarounds in 2008, the Falcons have maintained their momentum while the Dolphins have fallen apart.
For now, the news is that Ross truly has made no decisions about how to proceed. As a result, he’d be wise to work even harder to get the word out that the white elephant won’t be dispatched to bring Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden to South Florida.