Miami Dolphins: Does Tony Sparano Really Deserve ALL Of The Heat?

Erick JamesContributor IDecember 27, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 12:  Head coach of the Miami Dolphins, Tony Sparano on the sideline against the New York Jets at New Meadowlands Stadium on December 12, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

After Week 16’s crushing loss to the Detroit Lions it’s become very apparent that the majority of the Dol-Fan nation has turned its back on the Miami coaching staff.

What’s gone wrong in Miami? Ireland’s personnel changes and draft picks while bringing in a number of ex-Cowboy castaways has disappointed many. Dan Henning has been a head-scratcher to say the least at the helm of the offensive play-calling throughout the entire 2010 campaign. Chad Henne, for a lack of a better word, has sucked; plain and simple.

At the top of this food chain (if not hunger strike) lies owner Stephen Ross, Jeff Ireland as the team’s general manager, head coach Tony Sparano and Bill Parcells as the “Executive Vice President of Football Operations”.

Pretty hefty title for a guy who lacked the backbone to stand next to the guys he brought to help turn around an already desperate franchise late in 2007 after a 1-15 season.

When I look at all of the people involved here, I see the billionaire, the guy who decides who’s on the team and who’s not, a former coach who was supposed to be the guiding force of the team originally who completely BAILED on the franchise when things didn’t seem to pan out as planned, and then the head coach, who was left with all of their plans to take the heat for.

I am no advocate for Chad Henne who is clearly one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL, nor am I supporter of Dan Henning’s oddball offensive scheme, but the combination of the two have proven to be of the worst to ever be seen in Miami Dolphins’ history.

Sadly, Sparano has been caught in the middle of all of this. It’s pretty obvious that he was left out to dry by Bill Parcells. Even if Sparano is fired, Bill will continue receiving his retirement checks from Stephen Ross for another year, as he still has one more season left on his consultant contract.

Sparano has merely been trying to work with what he has, but considering the most important position on any team is the quarterback, has had close to nothing to work with. Chad Henne has completely thrown games away; where as his negative presence on the field contributes to little production from the receivers and puts constant pressure on the defense due to the offense's continuous failures.

I don’t think this is the right time to talk about stats, because frankly they’ve been used for and against people who can be equally blamed for Miami’s faults all year long. It’s not fair to Sparano himself who has a small say-so on who he has on his roster. It’s not fair that he gets the first look through the cross-hairs since Ireland has full say on who gets drafted and who doesn’t.

Miami could have easily gone for a franchise QB in 2008 with Matt Ryan, who is panning out to be the best QB to be drafted in the last 5 years. They could have very easily moved back in the draft and picked up another tackle in 2008’s offensive-linemen heavy draft, where even a Pro-Bowler like Ryan Clady came mid-way in the first-round.

I know there have been a few successful late-round quarterback selections like Tom Brady, but to be fair, a selection like that comes once in a lifetime…and, it is Bill Belichick we’re talking about.

After all is said and done, if anyone would want to blame Sparano, they should be far more angrier with Jeff Ireland and Bill Parcells, who are hiding behind the only guy showing some sort of enthusiasm out there, seeing as though hardly anyone else is, no matter how funny or embarrassing it may look like.

Maybe Sparano stuck with Dan Henning and all of his trick plays because hell, maybe that’s all you’ve got with a quarterback as inaccurate as Chad Henne. Fans have been bickering about “letting him loose” all year long. Well, you got that with two late interceptions that cost us another game against a team like the Detroit Lions who’d only won two games between their 2008 and 2009 seasons.

In the end, this will just appear as another blemish on Sparano’s portfolio. When all is said and done you really can’t knock on the guy for really playing with the cards he was dealt. You can’t use Sparano sticking with Henning against him just as you can’t use Henning’s play-calling against Henne’s skill development, and vice-versa, when the latter two are clearly just as bad as the other.

Tony Sparano seems like a good guy who was just caught up in a situation where he was abandoned by people who once had his back. Just before the start of the season, he had to let go of guys like Pat White and Patrick Turner, who Ireland suggested were perfect for his roster but later let go—resulting in more wasted draft picks. Then, the ring-leader of the whole operation, Bill Parcells, leaves everyone high and dry, doesn’t look back, and goes on the record saying Henne wasn’t the guy they’d all hoped for. 

If anything, guys like Parcells and Ireland should feel ashamed for letting Sparano take this kind of bashing and scrutiny from the city. I at one point let my emotions get the best of me, but after some very much needed heavy breathing, I got myself to stop and think where all of these failed ventures had been coming from since 2008.

It started when the Miami Dolphins decided to BRING IN A HEAD COACH WHO DIDN’T WANT TO COACH! That man my friends is Bill Parcells. The city trusted him in taking the Phins into a new direction, and at first fault, our captain jumped ship, leaving his cronies to take the fall for him.

It was even hard watching Tony deny the embarrassment of the Week 15 loss to the Buffalo Bills during post-game interviews, as he still tried to show some hope and confidence for the team, even if Henne did the same after one of his many lack-luster performances. Sadly, seeing Brandon Marshall up there telling the ugly truth of Miami’s embarrassing performance shows not that the players are turning their backs on their head coach, but that it is becoming a house divided amongst those working hard and those hiding their failures behind the coaching staff, much like Henne has done since the start of the season.

When all is said and done, I do believe Tony Sparano will be getting fired. Do I firmly think it is the right thing to do? No, but there’s a lot going on in the coaching market with Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher (both former Super Bowl champions) being very much available and too good to pass up. Do I feel bad for Tony Sparano? Absolutely, he shows he wants this team to succeed, no matter how naïve he looks swinging in the air after a special team’s field goal saves another failed offensive drive led by the guy the team owner and general manager (a.k.a. his bosses) pretty much put all of their chips on.

Sparano can only do so much with what he has, and yes, Miami is stacked at certain positions, but it is very much deprived and dead at some other very important ones.

What good is the human heart without its brain?  It is the passion of Tony Sparano left to fail by the terrible decision making of Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland, one beat at a time.

No matter how this turns out, there still are people out there who know Sparano’s intentions were all for the good, and also know he was left behind by the people he trusted much earlier than he thinks.

Good luck, Tony.