The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson reported prior to the Dolphins vs. Texans game on Sunday that Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland is officially on the hot seat, per sources.
To some Dolphins fans this news came about a year too late, as many thought that Ireland should've been shown the door when Tony Sparano was given his pink slip. However, here's a quote from Jackson's piece explaining what can save Ireland's job:
Ross made clear he expects a winning team in 2012, though some of Ireland’s moves suggest he’s far more concerned with 2013 than 2012. A friend of Ross believes Ireland will be in serious trouble if the Dolphins bomb. He insists Ross does not have “blind faith” in his general manager.
It's odd to hear that Ross does not have "blind faith" in his general manager, considering that many Dolphins fans have felt that over-confidence in Ireland is precisely what he had the last two years.
However, it is undeniably refreshing to hear. The only problem is that if I were to put Ireland on the hot seat, I would have done it in February.
I wouldn't have done it in September when the season is about to start and you have your final 53-man roster set.
By putting him on the "playoffs-or-bust" hot seat in February, Ireland then makes moves for the short-term instead of the long-term. Putting him in this position now is unfair, considering that Ireland seemed more inclined to build for the future this season.
This is why Miami is a young team with developmental projects at a bevy of positions (quarterback, right tackle, tight end and wide receiver to name four—and that's just on offense).
The goal in Miami appears to be making this team a contender in 2013 while doing their absolute best in 2012. By putting Ireland (who set up this plan) on the hot seat now, you're basically leaving his job status up to the players on the field.
There's not much he can do at this point in time. The NFL's trade market dries up during the season to the point where they have the most boring trade deadline of all the professional sports. The available free agents are there for a reason. You simply have to put your faith in your draft picks developing quicker than anticipated.
You might say that Ireland deserves the hot seat (and I do), but to do it now is a bit unfair to him. Later on in his article, Jackson states that only one thing, short of a winning record, could allow Ireland to keep his job: Ryan Tannehill playing very well.
I'm of the belief that Ryan Tannehill has the potential to improve and become a good-to-great NFL quarterback. We will see that improvement throughout the season.
But at best, he won't reach his potential until 2015 (three seasons is usually the benchmark to see what you have in a quarterback).
Jeff Ireland built this team to rebuild now, then reap the rewards in the future. But unless the players play beyond themselves, Ireland could receive a t-shirt in the mail one day in 2016 that says:
"I helped lay the foundation for the Miami Dolphins Super Bowl 50 Victory, and all I got was this Stupid T-Shirt."