So, the Dolphin trifecta is breaking up. Bill Parcells left over a year ago and Tony Sparano was just fired during a disastrous 2010-2011 season. Nobody should be mourning over this. In retrospect, the thought of the Dolphins hiring a 1980's fossil like Parcells was ludicrous. Furthermore, the idea of trusting Parcells in his hire of an inexperienced coach like Sparano was even more absurd. The only remaining member of the Trifecta is Jeff ireland. Stephen Ross has made it clear that Ireland is staying. The decisions that will be made from now until next August may affect the direction of the Miami Dolphins for the next decade or more. Should Ireland, who was involved in key personnel decisions, be retained?
There have been four drafts since the Trifecta arrived. Parcells had a strong hand in the first three (2008, 2009 and 2010). The fourth (2011) occurred after Parcells disappeared from view. One can thus conclude that the 2011 draft was the sole property of Jeff Ireland. How did he do? Outstanding. It may turn out to be one of the greatest Dolphins drafts ever. Mike Pouncy, the first draft pick, has been terrific and will probably anchor the offensive line for the next decade. Should Ireland have taken a QB? Probably. His decision to award the job to Chad Henne without real competition was a mistake. But the center position, a slot that has had constant turmoil since the 1990's days of Tim Ruddy, is now resolved without question. Daniel Thomas has shown flashes of excellence between stints on the injury list. His inability to gain goal line yards is disturbing. Yet, one has to feel that his very best days are ahead of him. Also, Thomas' blocking skills have markedly improved since the beginning of the season. Charles Clay has unique ability as an H-back and should be a vital cog in the Dolphin offense once he gets additional seasoning. Clyde Gates is a speedster who has also shown flashes but needs experience. Jimmy Wilson is a late-round cornerback who already shows playmaking ability. Frank Kearse was a late-round draft bust. Keep in mind the general consensus of experts is that successfully hitting on 50% of draft choices constitutes a rousing success. The 2011 Dolphin draft should far exceed that.
Many other Ireland decisions were sound. Taking a chance on Matt Moore after he failed as QB with two other teams was a brilliant decision and could have far-reaching impact. Signing Reggie Bush as free agent exceeded all expectations. The decision to discontinue Parcells' absurd roster churning has led to vastly improved Special Teams play. Ireland's decision to ignore the ridiculous preseason chants for QB Kyle Orton was justified, especially when Denver overplayed their hand and wanted a second-round choice in return. Ireland has a reputation as an exceptional evaluator of talent. A major error was in signing Marc Columbo, an over-the-hill offensive tackle. Ireland may have put too much faith, in this case, in Tony Sparano's supposed expertise as an offensive line "guru". We'll never know.
Anecdotally, most Dolfans and observers would prefer Ireland be fired to remove the stench of the Trifecta from the franchise. I don't subscribe to that view. Ireland should be judged on his own merits, not those of either Parcells or Sparano. The 2012 draft may be the most critical in Dolphin history. Let's give him a chance. I have confidence in him.