The current state of the Dolphins began approximately fifteen years ago, towards the end of Don Shula's tenure as coach, as Dan Marino's skill level began to badly deteriorate. All the true management culprits that participated in the team's downward spiral are now gone, with the sole exception of Jeff Ireland. The false Messiahs (Jimmy Johnson, Nick Saban), the incompetents (Cam Cameron, Dave Waanstedt) and the "over-the-hills" (Don Shula, Bill Parcells) disappeared a long time ago. Ireland critics need to be aware of the pent-up emotion misdirected at him. Ireland is taking the brunt for fifteen years of terrible Dolphins decisions. It's terribly unfair.
What was the tragedy over the past few weeks during the free-agency period? Ireland wisely refused to overpay. He learned his lesson after bad experiences with Gibril Wilson, Karlos Dansby (a solid linebacker but certainly not worth his exorbitant salary), Ernest Wilford, and Brandon Marshall. Is this a crime? Not wanting to add to already-excessive dead cap space? I think not. Ireland did make a few lower-level free agent signings that should provide depth with little effect on the salary cap structure. I share his belief that football teams are built from the ground up via the draft. The core reason for the decline of this football team are, without a doubt, horrific drafts since the mid-1990s. Ireland is known as "Superscout" in NFL circles and I am confident in his ability to find good players in the draft. If not, he will lose my support rapidly. His first draft without Parcells was an excellent one.
What of the QB situation? Many fans, especially the same ones who cried over Kyle Orton last year, have little to support their collective whining. Matt Flynn? Totally unproven. Seattle signed him to a huge contract with a $10 million guarantee. Good luck to them. Putting all their eggs in one basket. If Flynn fails, the Seahawk salary cap will take many years to recover. Joe Philbin, the NFL coach who probably knows Flynn best, refused to take such a chance. Peyton Manning? 36 years old and history of four neck surgeries. One sack hit away from retirement (or worse). The Broncos can keep him. Matt Moore is a solid NFL QB. David Garrard is an excellent backup (recall that the Bears and Colts fired their respective GMs because they didn't have competent backup QBs last season). I'll take my chances with the Moore/Garrard combination for the present time. If the Dolphins can draft Ryan Tannehill in the upcoming NFL draft, so much the better for the future. Next year, 2013, will see a college class loaded with talented young QBs. One additional year without the QB of our dreams (or fantasies) won't matter. By the way, franchise QBs don't just fall out of trees. Let's stop the "we have to get a franchise QB" nonsense. It doesn't work that way. Never has.
This is a rebuilding year for the Dolphin offense, make no mistake about it. I am strongly suggesting we give Ireland more time to see how things play out. His trade of Brandon Marshall to the Bears was brilliant, getting two third-round draft choices for an overrated troublemaker. The final chapter to the 2012 season is a very long way from being written.
The last time I saw such NFL fan rebellion was in the late 1970's, when NY Giants fans held up a hugh banner that said "Fifteen Years of Lousy Football. We've Had Enough!!!". How many Super Bowls have the Giants made since then? Hang in there, folks.