Dolphins owner: Sparano is 'right coach'
The Miami Dolphins have had five coaches since 2004, and now they're giving stability a try.
Owner Stephen Ross said Monday he's sticking with Tony Sparano. The vote of confidence for the embattled coach came as the Dolphins began their bye week Monday with a 0-4 record and the NFL's longest losing streak at seven games.
''I am very disappointed, to put it mildly,'' Ross said in an interview on the Dolphins' flagship radio station, WINZ-AM.
''But I think that we have to stay together and really get behind our coach. I believe that Tony is the right coach. I think all the games we have played have been really close. We could have gone either way. When you see the team practicing and playing as hard as they can, I think that's a good sign, but certainly, we have to see better results.''
The public comments were the first by Ross since the start of training camp.
A 26-16 loss Sunday at San Diego intensified questions about Sparano's future. Miami is 0-4 for third time in recent seasons, and the other times the coach was gone by January — Dave Wannstedt in 2004 and Cam Cameron in 2007.
''Everybody talks about changes, and that they would change things around,'' Ross said. ''If you look at the winning teams, they're consistent and stay the course. You go through rough periods. I think we have a lot of talent.
''I think most important of the players really believe in Tony. As long as the players believe in Tony and they're playing hard for him, and with the talent we have, we are going to win our share of ballgames.''
Sparano does remain popular with his players, who have blamed themselves for the sorry state of the season. While there will apparently be no coaching switch this week, shake-ups elsewhere are likely before Miami's next game Oct. 17 against the New York Jets.
''We've got to look at it from a coaching standpoint and a players' standpoint,'' Sparano said following Sunday's game. ''We have to look at some of the things we're asking them to do. Then we've got to look at some of the people that are doing it.''
Complicating any attempts at a course correction is an injury to quarterback Chad Henne, who departed in the first quarter and watched the end of the game from the sideline with his non-throwing arm in a sling. Further tests were planned, and the team was off Monday. Following the game, Henne was optimistic.
''I'll be back faster than what people think,'' he said. ''One thing is I'm tough, and things like this won't hinder me. I can rip this arm off, and as long as I can post the ball up, I think I can play. My left arm's not my worry.''
Matt Moore replaced Henne and immediately drove the Dolphins for their only touchdown. He finished 17 for 26 for 167 yards and had several passes dropped.
Moore went 1-4 as a starter last season for woeful Carolina. If he gets the call against the Jets, he would become the 16th starter at quarterback in the 13 seasons since Dan Marino retired.
Other possible changes include revising Bush's role. He was acquired to give Miami a breakaway threat, but he has been a flop as a feature back, averaging only 3.0 yards per game and 6.6 per reception.
Also lackluster is the productivity of Brandon Marshall, who has caught 22 passes but dropped six, including two Sunday. He and Bush have one touchdown apiece.
''I'm definitely frustrated,'' Marshall said. ''I'm more frustrated at myself right now.''
And then there's the defense. One argument against a coaching change now is that the likely interim successor would be defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, and he's having as bad of a season as Sparano.
On the Chargers' first three possessions of the second half, Miami gave up scoring drives of 59, 58 and 65 yards. The Dolphins rank third-worst in the NFL in yards allowed, and they're tied for next to last with only two takeaways.
Linebacker Jason Taylor, who has been through a lot of rocky times with the Dolphins, tried to rally teammates after the latest loss.
''We're not done,'' he said. ''I know everyone's going to think I'm crazy, and that's fine. I've been called worse. But I'm going to be optimistic, and I'm going to keep fighting. If you don't want to be on this train, get off it. We're about to take a stop here for a week. And feel free to get off. But the guys that are on it down the stretch, we're going to go out there and play our best and hopefully get this thing fixed and turned around.''