GM Ireland focused on QB improvement
INDIANAPOLIS — Without mentioning Matt Flynn or Peyton Manning by name, Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland tiptoed around questions about Miami’s plan to address the quarterback situation.
“It’s an ongoing process and a lot of things need to be figured out,” Ireland said.
Matt Moore went 6-3 down the stretch in 2011, but competition will be added through free agency and/or the draft. Chad Henne won’t be offered a new contract when free agency opens March 13, and Ireland has been discussing the plan at quarterback with new head coach Joe Philbin on a daily basis.
“I don’t think it has to be a long-term solution, but you have to help this team today and look at the future,” said Ireland.
That could include Flynn, who was groomed as Aaron Rodgers’ backup in Green Bay by Philbin and knows the offense that will be installed. Meanwhile, a grassroots effort by fans unveiled billboards in South Florida urging the team to pursue Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, including the website ManningtoMiami.com.
“It’s the fans, they can fly a banner around the stadium,” Ireland said. “They can do what they want to do.”
For right now, the starting job is Moore’s. He is in California, but has remained in communication with the Dolphins.
“He’s doing good, he fits here,” Ireland said of the Dolphins. “We’re glad to have Matt Moore on our roster. We need to utilize his strengths and we need to clean up some things, like some of his footwork. But he went 6-3 for us, and that’s pretty good.”
Philbin said the Dolphins continue to evaluate each position and looking at the potentially available NFL free agents as well as college prospects. That includes quarterbacks, who must fill a certain prototype.
“We’re looking for a great decision-maker, we’re looking for a leader, we’re looking for an accurate passer, we’re looking for a guy that has excellent game-management skills, excellent decision-maker, a guy that has pocket presence and awareness,” Philbin said. “The leadership skills; obviously the stronger the arm, the more velocity, the better, but we’re looking for a guy that can manage a team, lead a team, make good decisions in critical times and make big plays when games are on the line.”
Philbin and Ireland realize there are issues throughout the roster. The retirement of linebacker Jason Taylor creates a more pressing need for pass-rush help opposite Cameron Wake.
“They’re hard to find. If you can find one at the inside rush position, or linebackert to come off the edge, or defensive end — you take pressure players wherever you could get them — they’re hard to find.”
Ireland said Wake’s role is clearly defined. He’ll be a “pressure player” whether he’s a 3-4 outside linebacker or moved to defensive end in a 4-3 front.
“We’re going to play multiple fronts. We’re not going to get into what are base fronts will be. Last year, we were in a sub front 70 percent of the time. We’re looking for good players with a great passion for the game and are disciplined. We’re not looking for small players. I’m not changing that too much. I like big, strong fast guys. Where lined up … I’m not worried about. If they’re good players, we’ll find a place for them to play.”
The Dolphins will take a similar approach to player acquisition despite some tweaks to their prototype preferences. For example, Philbin’s past up-close experience with offensive linemen has led to Ireland agreeing to defer to Philbin’s insight on those prospects. What the Dolphins are looking for from the receivers and running backs, Ireland said, will also be a “little bit different than what we’ve looked at in the past.”
The Dolphins are a projected $15 million under the 2012 salary cap estimation of $120 million.