It was just over a month ago Dolphins general manager got into a verbal altercation with a fan who suggested he fire himself.
Now, opinions on the embattled personnel man are turning, with the team’s results.
The tandem of coach Joe Philbin and quarterback Ryan Tannehill looks like a winner at this point, and the man who put them in place is taking much less static than he used to.
“He’s definitely looking a lot smarter,” team radio broadcaster Joe Rose said, via Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post. “His talent evaluation is better than any of us thought it was.”
That’s quite a turnaround for Ireland, who moved fans to stage a protest in March when he traded wide receiver Brandon Marshall and failed to sign a quarterback in free agency. His image took another hit when he traded cornerback Vontae Davis for draft picks, a move that many thought was the equivalent of punting before the season started.
But with three wins, Tannehill playing well, and immediate impacts from rookie right tackle Jonathan Martin and defensive end Olivier Vernon, his drafting has at least made people stop talking about Chad Henne and Pat White.
“I never bought into the criticism of Jeff Ireland,” said former Washington Redskins and Houston Texans general manager Charley Casserly. “The biggest fundamental difference this year is Tannehill has been a big plus, Reggie Bush has been a big plus and perhaps they have a few less distractions without Marshall and Vontae Davis.”
The Dolphins also have a surplus of salary cap room next year, around $50 million, which they can use to keep their own while supplementing with the extra second- and third-round picks next year.
That’s quieted a lot of the talk in Miami, turning opinion in a hurry.
“The ones that are really down on him aren’t calling,” said Rose, who also hosts a morning sports talk show. “Or, I have a lot more calls like, ‘Hey, I might’ve been wrong about Jeff Ireland.’ ”
He better enjoy it now. Because unless the wins keep coming on a regular basis, the “Fire Jeff Ireland” banners will start flying again.