Dolphins owner Stephen Ross had it right the first time. After firing coach Tony Sparano, Ross said that the team wants to find a “young Don Shula.”
Now that a middle-aged Jeff Fisher has picked the Rams over Miami, Ross should go back to doing what he said he wanted to do in the first place.
The trick, of course, is finding a young Don Shula, since no one knew how good Don Shula would be until he became Don Shula. And that’s where the involvement of an experienced and knowledgeable General Manager becomes critical.
Someone needs to be able to pick through the current crop of up-and-coming coaches and find the guy — presumably, a coordinator — who has the skills to thrive at the next level, where far different skills than drawing up Xs and Os are required. Current G.M. Jeff Ireland isn’t the guy to do it. Based on his track record of hiring coaches in Kansas City and the ultimate success (or lack thereof) of his teams, friend/advisor/non-employee Carl Peterson isn’t, either.
Ross needs to spend some of the money he was willing to throw at Fisher on hiring someone to help Ross find that young Don Shula. (A young Dan Marino wouldn’t hurt, either.) And Ross needs to resist the knee-jerk temptation to “stick it” to Fisher and the Rams by breaking out even more money in an effort to hire Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy or Les Miles or Chip Kelly or whoever else of the currently uninterested coaches would be on the “A” list right now.
Few coaches sell tickets. Winning games sells tickets. And the best way to win games is to find the next Shula or Cowher or Belichick or Dungy or Walsh before he becomes what he eventually will be.
Yes, it’s easier said than done. But it makes a lot more sense than going all in for the prettiest girl at the ugly stick ball, and having turn you down.