MIAMI — Many unhappy Miami Dolphins fans got their wish Tuesday: Jeff Ireland is out as the team’s general manager.
One day after the firing of offensive coordinator Mike Sherman seemed to indicate Ireland and head coach Joe Philbin were being retained after another disappointing season, the Dolphins announced they and Ireland "have mutually agreed to part ways."
"I want to personally thank Jeff for his hard work and dedication in building the team over the past six years," Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said in a release. "After a series of discussions, we both felt that it was in our mutual best interest to part ways. Jeff was a loyal and dedicated member of the Dolphins and we wish him and his family nothing but the best."
Ireland was general manager the past six seasons after being hired by then executive vice president of football operations Bill Parcells. In a quiet surprise, Ross gave Ireland a contract extension through 2014 before this past season.
The Dolphins won the AFC East in Ireland’s first year (2008) but have have followed with medicore records of 7-9, 7-9, 6-10, 7-9 and 8-8.
After Miami squandered a playoff berth by losing its final two games, Ross said would evaluate every aspect of the organization.
Sherman was fired after a poor year offensively. Miami ranked 27th with 312.9 yards per game, 26th with 19.8 points per game and allowed a league-high 58 sacks.
Ireland leaves after being greatly criticized by media members and fans in recent years for his early-round draft record and free-agent signings.
"I’ve spent the last six years with the best organization in football," Ireland said in a release. "Steve and I came to an agreement that the best thing moving forward for all parties would be to part ways. I’d like to thank Steve for all his support and kindness. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing people during this time and I’d like to thank them all from the bottom of my heart."
So, what does Miami do now?
The Dolphins press release announcing Ireland’s departure said the team "will conduct an immediate search to bring new leadership to head the team’s football operations."
Ross could stay internal, adding GM duties to executive vice president of football administration Dawn Aponte. That would make Aponte the league’s first female general manager.
But Aponte’s strengths are finance and business, not evaluating talent. Someone would have to fill the bill as the top personnel person.
Under that plan, who would have the final say on a player? Aponte, Philbin or the personnel person?
Under that plan, the regime could be facing a complete overhaul a year from now if the Dolphins disappoint again in 2014.
The other way to go is follow the New York Jets’ road map (as distasteful as that might be for some Dolphins fans) — hire a new GM to work with Philbin for a year and decide if the coach is the right man for the job. Jets new GM John Idzik opted to keep Rex Ryan for 2014 following an overachieving 8-8 record.
Hiring a general manager and keeping Philbin is not an ideal scenario. It could work, though most GMs insist on hiring their own coach. Finding a person to accept Philbin could limit the number of GM candidates.