Dolphins owner Ross looking for improvement in ’13

For an owner who has endured four consecutive losing seasons,
Miami Dolphins boss Stephen Ross sounded remarkably patient
Wednesday.

He resisted any temptation to say he expected a double-digit win
total or playoff berth this year, even after committing about $150
million to free-agent acquisitions over the offseason.

”You want to bring back the winning tradition. You want to see
progress,” Ross said. ”We certainly want to make the playoffs,
but I want to see growth in the team in building the foundation for
this season and future seasons. I don’t want to be a one-shot
wonder.”

Ross spoke to the team before Wednesday’s practice.

”He wants us to get back to being a good franchise,” receiver
Mike Wallace said. ”He shouldn’t expect anything less.”

With the season opener a month away, Ross also spoke at a news
conference to discuss the state of the franchise. He said he’s high
on second-year coach Joe Philbin, second-year quarterback Ryan
Tannehill and general manager Jeff Ireland, who is in his sixth
season with Miami and perennially on the hot seat.

”I’m committed to Jeff Ireland,” Ross said. ”I think he’s
doing a great job.”

Ross believes the Dolphins have found a long-term solution at
quarterback in Tannehill, who led Miami to a 7-9 record while
starting all 16 games as a rookie last season.

”In pro football you need to have a great quarterback,” Ross
said. ”We certainly believe and hope we’ve selected that
quarterback. I love the guy. I think he’s the right person to lead
the way.”

While there’s stability at coach and QB for a change, the
Dolphins are searching for a successor to CEO Mike Dee, who’s
leaving after four years to become president and CEO of the San
Diego Padres. Dee led this year’s push for public money to make
stadium improvements, which was denied by the Florida
Legislature.

Ross said the Dolphins are formulating a new proposal for
upgrades, which the NFL has said are needed if the Super Bowl is to
return to Miami. Ross declined to say whether he would target the
2014 Legislature with the new plan, or whether it would require
approval in Tallahassee.

”We’re exploring everything,” he said. ”Have I given up? The
answer is no. The importance of the team, the importance of
bringing marquee events to Miami is paramount.”

Moving the Dolphins isn’t an option, Ross said.

”This is the best location,” he said. ”We’ve got to make it
work.”

Ross said the search for a new CEO will be narrowed to four
candidates in the next week or so, with a hiring expected around
Sept. 1. He said the person chosen would likely have a background
in sports, but not necessarily football.

Dee was responsible for the business side of the franchise and
not football operations. That will remain the case with the new
CEO, Ross said.

The Dolphins are 27-37 since Ross became managing general
partner in 2009. Last year they endured their worst home attendance
since 1980, and the stadium was often half empty for games.

Tickets sales are up more than 10 percent, and Ross expects
further improvement when the team wins.

”Miami has a reputation that it’s a tough sports town,” he
said. ”You’ve got to win. When we’re winning, we’ll get the proper
response.”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org