Owner Stephen Ross
The Miami Dolphins search for a new general manager has been thorough to say the least. According to Andy Kent of Dolphins.com, Miami has interviewed seven GM candidates so far. When Jeff Ireland met his demise following the 2013 season, many Dolphins fans rejoiced. Now the players, coaches and fans eagerly await the announcement of the next GM. What many fail to realize is that the Miami Dolphins GM position is one of, if not the toughest, jobs in the league.
Typically when a new GM is brought in, they are given personnel control and the right to hire/fire coaches as they see fit. Not in Miami, at least not initially.
Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald reported that Ireland had complained about the jobs the coaches were doing, particularly on the offensive end. According to Salguero:
Midway through the season, after the Dolphins lost to winless Tampa Bay and blew a 17-3 halftime lead at New England, general manager Jeff Ireland became disenchanted with offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and generally wasn’t too pleased coach Joe Philbin wasn't doing anything to correct his offensive coordinator and close friend’s play-calling or game planning.
According to the report, Ireland again complained about the job from the coaching staff following the Dolphins' collapse during the final two weeks of the season. Salguero reported that Dolphins Executive VP Dawn Aponte told Philbin of Ireland's complaints "word for word." This resulted in a complete communication breakdown between Philbin and Ireland—the two reportedly did not speak to each other once the season ended.
Owner Stephen Ross has made it clear that the new GM must retain Joe Philbin. It is also no secret around the league that Aponte and Ross are big supporters of Philbin. The soap opera that the Dolphins front office has become could complicate the GM search.
The best available candidates could very easily be turned off by the apparent social club the Dolphins are turning into. Imagine interviewing for the GM position and Ross makes it clear you cannot bring in your own coach and will be working under the Executive VP rather than alongside of them. This becomes an immediate power struggle.
Josh Alper of NBCSports.com even reported that Vikings Assistant GM George Paton declined an offer to interview for the Dolphins' GM position. It's not a good sign when Vikings personnel would rather remain assistant GM than possibly become GM for Miami.
According to Jason La Canfora of CBS:
The strong presence of Dolphins executive vice president Dawn Aponte in the process -- she is one of the more vocal members of the interviewing party, sources said, and clearly closely aligned with coach Joe Philbin and owner Stephen Ross -- has not gone unnoticed by candidates, league sources said, and questions remain about the direction of the franchise. Candidates are unclear if Philbin would report directly to Ross or whether the new GM would have domain. Philbin is a favorite of Ross and Aponte and while candidates are being made away that Philbin will be retained for 2014, candidates are concerned that if they believe a change is necessary in 2015, matters could be complicated by the personal relationship the coach shares with the owner and his trusted lieutenant.
The Dolphins will without question land a promising new GM. The question that will forever go unanswered is whether or not Miami could have hired a better candidate if Ross hadn't turned the front office into a social club.
The front office situation in Miami is toxic to say the least. The new GM will have some of his/her traditional powers removed and will have more superiors in the office than they should. Imagine interviewing for a new job and you find out politics and personal relationships are held in such high regard.
Also, imagine being a GM candidate and realizing the former GM couldn't speak to his owner or VP in confidence.
Ross will eventually get his man, but it's a much tougher sell than it needs to be.