Ireland should continue sticking to his plan

Former NFL executives say Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland should continue sticking to his plan

To shield himself from critics who might cloud his judgment, former NFL personnel executive Ron Wolf had a simple rule.

"You never read the local newspaper, watch the local TV or listen to the local radio," Wolf, who retired in 2001 after 35 years in the league, said from his home in Jupiter.

He didn't disdain the media. To Wolf, it was just common sense.

"I don't need someone who doesn't know anything at all about the situation telling me how stupid I am," Wolf said. "I already know."

If Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland listens to critics - including the fans who staged a protest across the street from his office - he would hear a lot about his perceived failings this off-season:

- Not signing Matt Flynn to be a potential franchise quarterback.

- Not acquiring Tim Tebow to boost interest and ticket sales.

- Not signing Vincent Jackson or any other big-name receiver to replace Brandon Marshall, whom Ireland traded last month.

Ireland, now in his second off-season as the club's primary decision-maker, so far has stuck to his plan to slowly improve the team, rather than make a dramatic move to stave off criticism - and even ridicule - from fans and media.

"If a player can help us win, then I'm all for it," Ireland said. "But you have to stay disciplined and focused on the plan.

"We're in a situation where we don't have a ton of salary-cap space (currently about $7 million). The pressure of doing something that someone else wants - that's not what we're in business for. You just have to trust your scouts and trust what you believe in."

Ireland and new coach Joe Philbin apparently didn't view Flynn, who played for Philbin in Green Bay the last four years, as a significant upgrade over incumbent Matt Moore, especially considering that Flynn received $10 million guaranteed from Seattle. The Dolphins tried to sign Peyton Manning but didn't seriously pursue any other big-name free agents.

Although season-ticket sales are a critical issue - the total now is below 40,000, the lowest in decades - owner Stephen Ross hasn't ordered Ireland to make a splash. "You're not going to bring in someone just to sell seats," Ross said at the NFL owners' meetings.

Added Ireland: "I know that when we win, we'll sell tickets and we'll help the bottom line."

Ireland also went against fan sentiment a year ago. When fans lobbied for quarterback Kyle Orton and running back Ahmad Bradshaw, Ireland chose cheaper options in Moore and Reggie Bush, who were arguably the Dolphins' best players last season.

"If (Ireland) sticks to his convictions, he'll be right about 90 percent of the time, because he has a good grasp of what you need to do to be successful," said Gil Brandt, who was a leader in the Dallas Cowboys' front office for decades.

"He's trying to build a team that's going to be there for more than one season, and in doing that, you make some decisions that aren't fan-happy."

Wolf understands. He said many Green Bay fans called him "a flippin' idiot" for trading a first-round pick for quarterback Brett Favre in 1992.

Charley Casserly, former general manager of the Houston Texans, understands, too.

In 2006, he selected defensive end Mario Williams with the No. 1 pick instead of taking the college golden boy (Bush) or the local hero (Vince Young, a Houston native and University of Texas star).

Casserly was criticized relentlessly - a team sponsor even went on local radio to encourage fans to stop buying season tickets. Casserly left the organization a few weeks later.

But six years later, few people doubt that Williams, who has 53 sacks and recently signed for $50 million guaranteed with Buffalo, has been a better pro than Bush or Young.

"If you're going to knee-jerk on things, you're never going to go anywhere," Casserly said. "I have a lot of respect for (Ireland) because it's not easy. You're getting bombarded day after day, and there's nothing you can do about it because you're not playing any games yet.

"But if you have a plan and a vision, you need to stick with that. Otherwise you're going to have no direction at all to your program."

(source Palm Beach Post)

Posted by Necesitamos Mas Football on 11:06. Filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0

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