Another loss and another lost season for the Miami Dolphins for the second consecutive year. Now questions are being asked what is Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross going to do? A picture is worth a thousand words and it’s hard to say what was going through Ross’ mind with his head down at the end of an embarrassing loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the home finale. The group of Mike Tannenbaum, Chris Grier, and Adam Gase have been in charge of all decisions the past 3 years. For Tannenbaum it’s been 4 years because he was evaluating everything in 2015 before Gase was named head coach and Grier was named general manager in 2016. It’s clear something needs to change, or a plan must change.
Last April, rumors floated that Ross was trying to push for the Dolphins to trade down and get more picks to draft quarterback Lamar Jackson only to be persuaded drafting Minkah Fitzpatrick was the right way to go. Whether it’s fair or not the Dolphins are going to be judged for not taking one of the 5 quarterbacks in the 1st round regardless of how good of a player Fitzpatrick is. This was probably the first sign that Ross had shown lack of confidence in this regime not looking hard at taking a quarterback instead relying on Ryan Tannehill to come back from his knee injury. The reality is Ross was probably correct the Dolphins should have brought in a quarterback to push Tannehill instead of putting all of their eggs in one basket because there was no good back up plan. Tannehill ended up missing 5 games due to a shoulder injury and failed to take his game to another level to push the Dolphins into the playoffs. Obviously, Ross is going to be more insistent about change at quarterback or else.
Tannenbaum has failed to bring in good free agents and some of his trades have back fired, such as trading a 4th round pick for Robert Quinn who only produced 7.5 sacks and most of those coming the last few games. He didn’t make the impact that was expected. Tannenbaum gave Ndamukong Suh a huge free agent contract with 60 million in guarantees to turn the defense around. Instead Suh never lived up to his contract and the team parted ways with him after the season and failed to upgrade the defensive line. He also failed to upgrade the offensive line and brought in player like Josh Sitton and Daniel Kilgore who were older and had a history of injuries, while dumping pro bowl center Mike Pouncey to save money for cheaper worn-down talent. He was also inconsistent with his handling of other areas such as bringing in TJ McDonald to pair with Reshad Jones even though both players played the same position with big contacts. Instead it led to frustration because Jones is playing out of position at the free safety position and isn’t happy with his role and the Dolphins are stuck with his huge contract.
Gase is also just as big a problem as well. He was insistent on sticking with Tannehill and not bring in a better option at the quarterback position. While Tannehill has put up good numbers with Gase when healthy, he has failed to raise his game to the next level and crumbles in the clutch with the game on the line. Gase is the play caller on offense and his play calling has been very questionable at times. There are times when he’s on the sideline to himself looking over offensive plays while being disengaged with his team when they are on defense and because he’s so involved on the offensive game planning, he also doesn’t look at other issues with his team such as Jones being unhappy with his role to try to diffuse things. I get Gase is an offensive minded coach, but he also must oversee all of the areas of his team and should delegate some of his offensive game planning to oversee the rest of his team. If Gase is too stubborn to do both things, then he should be let go.
Grier has had some good drafts, but a couple of notable misses. He started out with a bang in 2016 drafting Laremy Tunsil and Xavien Howard. For the most part, a lot of Grier’s draft choices are on the team contributing, but he missed with his 2017 first round pick Charles Harris who only has 3 sacks in 2 years. Then last year he drafted tight end Mike Gesicki, who has failed to have any impact at tight end. In his defense not, many tight ends come in and make huge impacts, but Gesicki was over taken by waiver pick up Nick O’Leary. There is still time to develop, but first impressions aren’t looking good. Grier also drafted Kenyan Drake, Jakeem Grant, and Minkah Fitzpatrick are guys who are contributing. If anyone has a chance to potentially stick around it could be Grier because for the most part his drafts have brought in more hits than misses. He has the final say on the draft pick not the overall roster or free agent pickups that belongs to Tannenbaum and Gase.
However, Ross has been down this road before where he has had to make a change. He went after Jim Harbaugh after 2010 despite having a coach in Tony Sparano and that blew up in his face and caused friction between Sparano and then general managers Jeff Ireland. He kept Ireland and fired Sparano after the 2011 season. Then he hired a new coach in Joe Philbin in 2012 and then his relationship with Ireland got strained in 2013 and after the season Ross fired Ireland and kept Philbin. When Ross went on the general manager search, he had a problem. All of the general managers that he offered the job to ended up turning the job down because they wanted the power to fire Philbin. Ross ended up hiring Dennis Hickey, but he was let go after Ross hired Tannenbaum to oversee the football operations after 2015. Ross is the owner and it is his right to hire and fire who he wants nobody can dispute that. Jerry Jones has always done that as owner of the Dallas Cowboys, but the difference is Jones is involved in the day to day operations of the Cowboys. Ross isn’t as involved with the Dolphins and if he did make a change with the football operations it might be difficult to hire someone if they don’t want Gase around and he might not see eye to eye with a new football operations guy. Ross might have to consider blowing the whole thing up.