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The Dolphins start looking for a “young Don Shula”

Tony Sparano, Stephen Ross AP

Another year, another awkward press conference starring Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

Last winter, Ross sat next to Tony Sparano and G.M. Jeff Ireland to try to explain to the media why it made sense to give Sparano a contract extension despite openly going after Jim Harbaugh for the team’s head coach.  (The picture of that day is above.)

On Monday, Ross sat next to Ireland once again to announce the firing of Tony Sparano.  Interim coach Todd Bowles was nowhere to be seen.  Some takeaways from the session:

1. Ross said he wanted to find a “young Don Shula” and that firing Sparano was largely made now to give the team a head start on finding that coach. Ross’ description indicated the team wanted a young coach.

2. G.M. Jeff Ireland sent a different message. He said he wanted a coach with experience that had been “in the trenches” and had knowledge of offense and defense.

3. Ross insisted that Ireland isn’t going anywhere. Ireland will remain the G.M. and help pick the new head coach. That would seem to eliminate candidates like Bill Cowher that would want to bring in their own personnel people.  Ross said he hasn’t spoken to “friend” Carl Peterson.

4. The Dolphins think they are close to winning.  Ireland: “”I feel there’s a foundation here. I’m saying its a perfect team.”

Ross: “Finding a quarterback is essential. But everyone can agree we have a great foundation.”

In other words, it was Sparano’s fault. Not Ireland’s fault.

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75 Responses to “The Dolphins start looking for a “young Don Shula””
  1. mikeyz6 says: Dec 12, 2011 5:22 PM

    most teams in the league are looking for a young Don Shula

  2. finfan87 says: Dec 12, 2011 5:24 PM

    While they aren’t the most talented team, they have gotten more talented and experienced over the past few years, yet have gotten worse. So yes, it is Sparano’s fault. Not going to claim Ireland is amazing or anything, but Sparano is more to blame for this season than Ireland.

  3. tfaulk says: Dec 12, 2011 5:28 PM

    Hopefully Todd Bowles gets a legit shot. Sparano’s problem was he got in his own way, was either too conservative or too reactionary… Bowles seems like a young guy who knows this system, knows these guys. All he should have to do is properly motivate the team and not stifle his coordinators.

    AND find a QB and a few other pieces.

  4. riihab says: Dec 12, 2011 5:30 PM

    Why don’t they try to find a young Dan Marino instead of looking for the next Don Shula.

  5. americankris says: Dec 12, 2011 5:31 PM

    Dave Shula is available

    what about the killer bees?

  6. righthereisay says: Dec 12, 2011 5:31 PM

    If I were them I would look for a young Chuck Noll. That would give them 4 Super Bowls instead of 2.

  7. thereisalwaysnextyear says: Dec 12, 2011 5:33 PM

    “The Dolphins start looking for a “young Don Shula””

    DUH. Who’s not looking for a young Don Shula. Too bad the Steelers are the only ones that seem capable of consistently finding good young coaches that can be there for a decade or more.

  8. tdk24 says: Dec 12, 2011 5:33 PM

    I know he’s not that young, but this sounds like Fisher.

  9. wawa33 says: Dec 12, 2011 5:33 PM

    They should be looking for a young Dan Marino instead.

  10. ampats says: Dec 12, 2011 5:35 PM

    NFLN is reporting that Carl Peterson will be joining the Dolphins as VP. On another note, Carl will also be bringing all the Lombardi trophies he won as GM of the Chiefs over the years to Miami.

    Peterson, Ireland running the show. Great news to AFC East fans.After the announcement there was alot of laughter heard from Bill Belichick’s office in Foxborough,MA

    Young Shula? Don’t be surprised if a certain MNF ESPN analyst recommends the name of one Jay Gruden.

  11. jcd213 says: Dec 12, 2011 5:36 PM

    4. The Dolphins think they are close to winning. Ireland: ””I feel there’s a foundation here. I’m saying its a perfect team.”

    _________________________________

    Please tell me he said, “I’m NOT saying its a perfect team.”

  12. baywatchboy says: Dec 12, 2011 5:36 PM

    There’s such a rush to win now, that not too many teams will find or even look for a “young Don Shula”. The Redskins did this way back when when they hired some guy named Joe Gibbs. We see how well hiring coaches with experience have worked out for Snyder. I like the Dolphins (wouldn’t call myself a fan though) and hope that not only do they take a chance on someone young, but then actually give him a chance.

  13. Deb says: Dec 12, 2011 5:36 PM

    Unfortunately, you can’t just look at a young coach and see that he’s going to develop into a Shula, Noll, Landry, Lombardi, Walsh, Brown, etc. So good luck with that.

  14. thelastpieceofcheese says: Dec 12, 2011 5:37 PM

    Why not bring the real Don Shula out of retirement?

  15. purplepeter says: Dec 12, 2011 5:38 PM

    2 out of 8 (25%) of coaches that have veen fired playeed against Tim Tebow. the other coach was Delrio of Jax (wheres Tebow from??) I also expect Norv Turner to be next (Also lost to Tebow) to be next.

  16. cdngatorfan says: Dec 12, 2011 5:39 PM

    Picking a young Don Shula would mean picking a young Dan Marino.

    Unfortunately, keeping a Jeff Ireland means passing on a young Matt Ryan and picking up Pat White instead.

    Sparano wasn’t THE WHOLE PROBLEM. Unfortunately, a large part of the problem still remains. Get rid of Jeff Ireland and then I’ll start to get excited.

    Right now I just feel bad for Tony Sparano. Stephen Ross….you blew it again.

  17. teal379 says: Dec 12, 2011 5:40 PM

    Packers pull McCarthy out of San Fran as an OC – IIRC that year San Fran sucked bad. Harbaugh came out of Stanford.

    Good coaches are out there – front offices just have to be confident enough in their own process/decisions to select the right guy – regardless of what “name” is available.

    Stop recycling retread coaches.

  18. iclubseals says: Dec 12, 2011 5:40 PM

    Bill Cowher to South Beach?

    If I were calling the shots in Miami, he would be on the short-list.

  19. 1972wasalongtimeago says: Dec 12, 2011 5:41 PM

    Perfect team? Forget about QB for a second. Marco Colombo is the starting RT. He’s a turnstyle. Brian Hartline is the starting WR. Next time anyone sees him during a game, please let me know. Best pass rusher is 37 years old. And if anyone gets hurt, there is zero depth.

    Those are just the pathetic parts of the team. There’s a whole lot of “whatever” guys on this team too. Fasano, Bess, Carey, Donald Thomas, Starks, McDaniel, Solai, Burnett, Misi, Sean Smith, Clemons/Jones; All of them make you say, “whatever”.

    And the Wakes, Marshalls, Bushes, Dansbys? All of them are pretty good, but not great by any stretch of the imagination. And all have been either cut or deemed unworthy to keep by at least one team prior to their coming to Miami.

    The punter is really good though.

  20. rodge1 says: Dec 12, 2011 5:41 PM

    Huge Dolphin fan here. With that said, Dolphins are going to suck as long as Stephen Ross is the owner. Dolphins’ troubles start from the top and as we all know crap rolls downhill. They need an owner who loves football not some limelight-hungry fool. There’s already plenty of those down here.

  21. jredshoes says: Dec 12, 2011 5:42 PM

    To go along with their young Dan Marino??

  22. pedroherce says: Dec 12, 2011 5:42 PM

    I know they didn’t mean it literally, but Panthers QB coach Mike Shula will be a coach in the NFL soon enough.

  23. turtlehut says: Dec 12, 2011 5:44 PM

    History repeats itself: Dolphins hired Don Shula in 1969 from the Colts, the Colt’s Jim Caldwell (who also lost games in the post season the Colt’s should have won) should be coming available in January, so Miami should be Mr. Caldwell’s new home. Whats not to love!!

  24. hardpeaches says: Dec 12, 2011 5:45 PM

    Ireland couldn’t have looked more uncomfortable and for good reason. Way to throw your friend and coworker under the bus.

    Stephen Ross continues to make horrible decision after horrible decision. Absolutely no reason to fire Sparano at this juncture. Ireland did what he had to do to save his tail and now the only chance he saves himself going forward is if he drafts a great QB this year.

    I’ve been a Dolphins fan starting when I was 8 (’91) and I’ve never been as discouraged as I am right now. The Dolphins collective karma is screwed up and that doesn’t bode well going forward.

    Yes, Sparano had to go. But another opportunity to do something the right way was bungled by an owner who’s seemingly not up to the task to really building a winning team.

    Note to Stephen Ross: Everyone wants a “young Don Shula” we’ll take a young Dan Marino too while you’re at it.

  25. norseyapper says: Dec 12, 2011 5:46 PM

    There’s another Ryan down in Dallas. Of course he isn’t all that young, and he knows nothing about offense, and his defense has been getting pounded lately, and he has this vile and vulgar personality. But other than that he sounds perfect for you!
    oh yeah, he’s butt hole ugly too.

  26. mistrezzrachael says: Dec 12, 2011 5:47 PM

    Ross..has demolished this organization…God, the Wanny years look so good to them now.

    People forget…Shula got to the SB in “84….then his last 15 or so years,,,not too good. Never won w/Marino.

  27. nekelund says: Dec 12, 2011 5:49 PM

    So they want a young, experienced, in-the-trenches coach with vast experience on both sides of the ball who will fit into the existing mold and won’t have to do anything because the team has the foundations for success in place, according to the owner and GM, who don’t seem to be on the same page.

    Well, then, I wish good luck to time-travelling-from-the-past-magically-Benjamin-Button-esque-Don Shula, who will be expected to somehow turn Reggie Bush into an every-down back who can successfully run between the numbers, make Brandon Marshall into someone who does not regularly drop the ball in the endzone and convert an inexperienced and/or injury-prone QB into a winner. I like those odds.

  28. fissels says: Dec 12, 2011 5:50 PM

    Sparano gave it everything he had which unfortunatly wasn’t nearly good enough. He should get a chance to be HC or OC somewhere soon.

  29. realitypolice says: Dec 12, 2011 5:50 PM

    Keeping Ireland in place eliminates every single big name coaching prospect. Even those who don’t want to be GM themselves will certainly have someone in mind to bring with them.

  30. rowdymon says: Dec 12, 2011 5:51 PM

    I think he meant to say a young “Harbaugh”…

  31. pilot2011 says: Dec 12, 2011 5:51 PM

    I believe there’s a Shula coaching Cam Newton in Carolina

  32. dolfanatik says: Dec 12, 2011 5:53 PM

    Next coach must know x’s & o’s on the offense no doubt.

  33. phishfan520 says: Dec 12, 2011 5:54 PM

    1972wasalongtimeago says:

    And the Wakes, Marshalls, Bushes, Dansbys? All of them are pretty good, but not great by any stretch of the imagination. And all have been either cut or deemed unworthy to keep by at least one team prior to their coming to Miami.

    ____________________________________

    Bush-trade; Wake, Marshall and Dansby were all Free Agent signings dumb ass.

    You gotta to be a Jets fan, it sounds like the level of intelligence they have when they talk about the problems we have!

  34. jcd213 says: Dec 12, 2011 5:55 PM

    Not saying I hope for this as a Dolphins fan, but Rob Ryan would be interesting… brothers… division rivals… fire lit beneath the under-achieving Dolphins rears. That would make for great football.

  35. eigglesnosuperbowls says: Dec 12, 2011 5:57 PM

    They should be looking for a young Dan Marino !

  36. Deb says: Dec 12, 2011 5:58 PM

    thelastpieceofcheese says:

    Why not bring the real Don Shula out of retirement?
    ————————————————–
    He retired for a reason. As mistrezzrachael said, his later years were not successful. It’s a different game today. You may want some of the qualities Shula possessed, but he’ll be 82 next month. His coaching days are over.

  37. upperdecker19 says: Dec 12, 2011 6:01 PM

    Mike Shula, an offspring of Don Shula, would fit that criteria perfectly.

  38. mwcarolina says: Dec 12, 2011 6:03 PM

    to me, the name sounds like it could be Russ Grimm.

  39. jetsarestacked says: Dec 12, 2011 6:05 PM

    i really, really, REALLY hope that flipper’s management is dumb enough to hire brian schottenheimer.

  40. wlubake says: Dec 12, 2011 6:08 PM

    Guess Matt Moore won’t be winning the starting job. He’s been a decent starter the last few games. Something to build on, and certainly not the problem.

    Please come take Perry Fewell from the Giants.

  41. rando74 says: Dec 12, 2011 6:10 PM

    Awesome. Now Sparano should call Chad Henne and let him know what the organization REALLY thinks of him. Im sure all that “this kid can play” garbage was just him towing the company line.

  42. cantonbound13 says: Dec 12, 2011 6:12 PM

    As long as Ireland & Peterson are advising Ross this team is doomed.

  43. dolfan72 says: Dec 12, 2011 6:26 PM

    Aquarterback, an offensive line, and JEFF FISHER!!!!!!!!!

  44. huskersrock1 says: Dec 12, 2011 6:27 PM

    Funny Don Shula was an established head coach when they hired him.

  45. tfbuckfutter says: Dec 12, 2011 6:29 PM

    They had to make the move now so they can hire Mangini before someone else does.

  46. orthomarine says: Dec 12, 2011 6:32 PM

    Ross has no right to even say the name Shula. This guy is going to destroy my phins. Sparano finally died from the snake bite Ireland gave him.

  47. buffalohogan says: Dec 12, 2011 6:34 PM

    This sounds like Bill Cowher to me. It’s a perfect match both are revered as great coaches but only made one Super Bowl in 15 years.

  48. stinkinfish says: Dec 12, 2011 6:37 PM

    As a Dolphins fan, Sparano was not the problem. Its the same as every other unsuccessful team in the league – inconsistent QB play. When Matt Moore was playing well, they would win; when he didn’t, they lost. All the pieces are there besides that. Defense is good enough to keep them in most games, o-line is above average, several good skill players. Bring in a veteran QB, draft another one, and give both Gruden’s a call. Maybe one of them will take the job.

  49. MichaelEdits says: Dec 12, 2011 6:47 PM

    Don Shula couldn’t win a Super Bowl with Marino throwing to Clayton and Duper. If it were my team, I’d want a better coach than a young Don Shula, an old Don Shula, or a middle-aged Don Shula.

  50. realitypolice says: Dec 12, 2011 6:50 PM

    I’ve got a name to throw out there. Not a young Don Shula, but just a coach who has a history of turning around every team he has ever coached. Has a .613 career winning percentage (200-126), and has qualified for the playoffs 14 times. Every team that has fired him has been worse since he left.

    His last year in coaching, he was 14-2 in the regular season.

    Sure he struggles in the playoffs, but you gotta get there first.

    I think everyone knows who I am talking about by now.

  51. billymc75 says: Dec 12, 2011 6:52 PM

    Hire a guy that’s won a SB at another team, cause that always works!

  52. raqaiw says: Dec 12, 2011 7:14 PM

    @1972wasalongtimeago

    Well typed. I had similar thoughts. They have alot of middle of the pack guys that play hard but just aren’t factors. Look at any good team and they have 3-4 guys on each side of the ball you HAVE to account for:

    Packers: Off-Rodgers,Jennings,Finley
    Def-Woodson,Raji,Matthews
    Patriots:Off-Brady,Welker,Gronkowski
    Def-Wilfork,Mayo,McCourty(sometimes)
    Ravens:Off-Rice,Boldin,Smith(still a rookie)
    Def-Suggs,Ngata,Lewis,Reed

    The Fish just don’t have those guys you have to gameplan for.

  53. backindasaddle says: Dec 12, 2011 7:21 PM

    Somehow I don’t think owner Steven Glamour-Ross and Rob PigPen-Ryan are a match made in heaven.

  54. xpensivewinos says: Dec 12, 2011 7:23 PM

    I hope your next “picture of the day” is a GM candidate punching that Weasel Ireland in the throat after he asks him if his mother is a prostitute.

    Ross and Ireland have zero charisma about them. They’re perfect for each other.

    Wow, the Dolphins are really screwed until Ross gets bored and decides to sell the team some day.

    That press conference just made me cringe it was so uncomfortable.

  55. kinguga says: Dec 12, 2011 7:40 PM

    High five, Ireland. You do have a perfect team. The only question is whether Mercury Morris will belittle it.

  56. kane337 says: Dec 12, 2011 7:41 PM

    Mike Holmgren was the closest I recall to almost winning a SB with another team.

  57. Deb says: Dec 12, 2011 7:46 PM

    A couple of people have mentioned Mike Shula, who is Cam Newton’s QB coach at Carolina. For some bizarre reason, I’m being censored from pointing out that he was famously disasterous in his only head-coaching gig at Bama. He’s a great QB coach, but has never even been a coordinator in the NFL. He’s not qualified to be a head coach–as the Tide found out the hard way. And rumor has it he’ll be returning to the NCAA.

  58. jcd213 says: Dec 12, 2011 8:02 PM

    I’m not convinced Henne can’t be a good player either… look at the dink and dunk offenses he played under. Look at the dink and dunk Pennington he learned under. Coming out of Michigan, all the rage was Henne’s arm. We have never seen him given a fair chance. A full year under Daboll, and nobody would know who Matt Moore is.

  59. bullcharger says: Dec 12, 2011 8:39 PM

    Sure… it should be pretty easy to find the next winningest coach in NFL history. You can spot those kind of guys when they are young. No fluke involved there at all.

  60. Deb says: Dec 12, 2011 9:34 PM

    @kane337 …

    Don Shula lost a Super Bowl with the Colts, then won with the Dolphins. And Holmgren won one and lost one with he Packers, then lost with the Seahawks.

    But Bill Parcells won two Super Bowls with the Giants, lost a Super Bowl with the Patriots, lost an AFC Championship with the Jets, and made the playoffs with the Cowboys. He’s the only coach in NFL history to take four different teams to the playoffs–three to championship games. So the Fins already had a guy on the payroll with more talent in his pinky than Holmgren will ever have … they just had him in the wrong position.

  61. realitypolice says: Dec 12, 2011 9:37 PM

    dolfan72 says:
    Dec 12, 2011 6:26 PM
    Aquarterback, an offensive line, and JEFF FISHER!!!!!!!!!
    ======================
    Jeff Fisher was the coach for the Oilers/Titans for 17 years. He made the playoffs 6 times. That means he failed to make the playoffs 11 times.

    His winning percentage is a very pedestrian .542 and he has a losing record in the playoffs.

    What is about this guy that warrants ALL CAPS and nine exclamation points?

  62. johnnyuminus says: Dec 12, 2011 9:54 PM

    It seems smart to leave the OC and DC in place to keep things copasetic. But if Stephen Ross is looking for the next Don Shula, he’s squandering a great opportunity by promoting secondary coach Todd Bowles. Since 2005, Bowles has been a secondary coach and never promoted—not a resume of the next Don Shula.

  63. nflofficeadmin says: Dec 12, 2011 10:14 PM

    Young Don Shula? is that the name of an up and coming rapper in Miami?

  64. jjbadd says: Dec 12, 2011 10:20 PM

    The old Shula sucked! He had Marino for damn near 20 yrs, couldnt win a SB! Some people are too damn sentimental! I am a Broncos fan to the max, but like i said b4 it happened, Shanahan was good because of Elway! He keeps dragging that bratty ass son Kyle around, and he sucks ass too! Coaches generally succeed after many factors align themselves, which owners arent allowing time for that anymore. Welcome to the NFL!

  65. superdave4good says: Dec 12, 2011 10:47 PM

    I’m beginning to believe, aside from him needing to take time off to be around his kids & then unfortunately grieve the loss of his wonderful wife, Bill Cowher’s absence from coaching is about his respect for the Rooney’s & the Steelers organization. When he does come back, he will strip them of some significant pieces of the front office. I have to believe he wanted to allow Mike Tomlin to acclimate as a head coach & begin to get his own comfortable pieces into place. Khan & a few others could be/probably will be gone when he returns. Interesting to consider he decided to allow Tomlin some growth & breathing room. Kudos to you, Bill Cowher.

  66. realitypolice says: Dec 12, 2011 10:59 PM

    johnnyuminus says:
    Dec 12, 2011 9:54 PM
    It seems smart to leave the OC and DC in place to keep things copasetic. But if Stephen Ross is looking for the next Don Shula, he’s squandering a great opportunity by promoting secondary coach Todd Bowles. Since 2005, Bowles has been a secondary coach and never promoted—not a resume of the next Don Shula.
    =========================

    Please tell me you’re joking.

    Bowles is the INTERIM coach. No one thinks he is the next Don Shula.

    He is being “promoted” to head coach now exactly because everyone understands that the head coach for the rest of the season will NOT be the coach of the future.

    He will be the coach for 3 games and then be swept out of the organization by whomever the new coach is.

  67. danlorwil083175 says: Dec 13, 2011 12:08 AM

    Stephen Ross is the most stupid and dumbfounded owner in the NFL. He has absolutely NO clue whatsoever! If he had any brains at all, he should have dumped that piece of crap GM Jeff Ireland too along with Sparano!

  68. danlorwil083175 says: Dec 13, 2011 12:11 AM

    Stephen Ross should sell the Dolphins over to Mickey Arison of the Heat! Mickey would instantly turn the Dolphins around!

  69. thalawless1 says: Dec 13, 2011 12:23 AM

    I predict Joe Lombardi the QB coach from the Saints.

  70. descendency says: Dec 13, 2011 1:07 AM

    Josh McDaniels?

    -A Patriots fan

  71. jcd213 says: Dec 13, 2011 1:25 AM

    I hope they figure it out, football is better with Miami and every other team in the league doing well. If every team were the Pats or Pack, it’d be non stop excitement..

  72. hotdog113 says: Dec 13, 2011 6:51 AM

    Let’s throw out some stats: If you take out the anomalies of the 2-3 coaches who won Super Bowls their first season, and you ignore some of the old guard coaches from the 70′s ( Landry), as well as the 15 years it took Cowher, and you see two things:

    The vast majority of SB winning head coaches did it within 3-5 years of taking over a team. Same with most of the losing coaches.

    Now we look at retread coaches…and almost none of them have won a SB with another team. Holmgren, Reeves, Parcells all got there, but did not win. Granted, the refs handed the Steelers the SB the year the Hawks went….

    So if your coach is at year 6….you pretty much know he will never win the big game ( Belichick the exception).

    As for Shula never getting the win with Marino…well there were alot of bad personnel decisions, and delegation to his co-ordinators who weren’t top notch ( Tom Olivadotti? he still coaching?). As Duper and Clayton got hurt and slowed down, rather than reload Marino’s gun, they kept trying to get running backs and a defense. Marino also landed on an older team whose defense ended up turning over after 85 while Elway and Kelly had younger teams…

  73. hotdog113 says: Dec 13, 2011 6:52 AM

    Cowher is another coach dependant on his co-ordinators…when they were bad the Steelers sucked. And he won’t have the refs on his side with another team…

  74. CKL says: Dec 13, 2011 9:10 AM

    realitypolice says:
    Dec 12, 2011 6:50 PM
    I’ve got a name to throw out there. Not a young Don Shula, but just a coach who has a history of turning around every team he has ever coached. Has a .613 career winning percentage (200-126), and has qualified for the playoffs 14 times. Every team that has fired him has been worse since he left.

    His last year in coaching, he was 14-2 in the regular season.

    Sure he struggles in the playoffs, but you gotta get there first.

    I think everyone knows who I am talking about by now.
    ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
    I love Marty. I don’t want him in my team’s division! His coaching tree has done better as HCs than my team’s coach,BB’s-FACT.

    That said, I don’t think Marty wants to return to the NFL last I read.

  75. august589 says: Dec 13, 2011 10:16 AM

    There’s only one “young Don Shula”–and he was hired in 1963 by the Baltimore Colts. Sorry, Dolphins–keep looking…

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