As the Dolphins continue to struggle to become competitive, they continue to struggle with internal dysfunction. Which could make the search for a new G.M. a struggle, too.
Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald outlines some of the circumstances creating a potentially challenging atmosphere for a new General Manager.
Per Salguero, former G.M. Jeff Ireland complained about the coaches during the final two games of the season. Per Salguero, V.P. of football administration Dawn Aponte heard the complaints — and she shared them with coach Joe Philbin.
That created understandable tension between G.M. and coach, which often happens when the G.M. and coach operate on different levels of accountability. In those situations, the human instinct of self-preservation takes over. The General Manager will say that the team has talent that isn’t being utilized; the coach will say he’s doing as much as he can with the talent he’s been given. Throw in a third person who funnels the information between the two, and the stage is set for a mess.
With owner Stephen Ross opting once again for half measures, the mess will continue. A new G.M. will inevitably want his own coach. A new G.M. will have concerns about whether Aponte is aligned with the coach against the G.M.
Inevitably, the best available candidate for the G.M. position won’t want the job, because the best available candidate will be smart enough to steer clear of a churning, toxic stew.
Instead of a cycle that consists of firing the coach one year and then firing the G.M. two years later and then firing the coach two years after that and so on, Ross at some point needs to press the reset button, fire everybody, start over, and stick with whatever alignment he puts in place for more than two or three years.
That doesn’t mean Philbin or Aponte should be fired per se. It means that, if Ross wants to fire anyone right now, he should have fired everyone — and then he should have given his next structure time to work.The post-Ireland structure will struggle, because the new G.M. will have an agenda that consists of eventually hiring the coach the new G.M. would have hired in the first place.
Regardless of what Ross does from this point forward, he should make it clear to the coach and the G.M. that they have shared accountability. If one fails, they both do. Which will ensure that, in times of stress, they won’t try to save their jobs by pointing fingers at each other, but by working together to find a way to win enough football games to keep everyone employed.