No one was surprised by the firing of head coach Tony Sparano after his third consecutive losing season with the Miami Dolphins. But some Dolphins fans were shocked to see Jeff Ireland remain as general manager.
Ireland has been positioning himself closer to ownership behind the scenes to retain his job. It worked as Dolphins owner Stephen Ross confirmed Ireland is staying put, regardless of the coaching hire.
"We are looking for the best head coach. Jeff (Ireland) is in charge of personnel," Ross said Monday. "He’s in charge of that area. I think that it’s important that the head coach and general manager to be able to work together. So you’re not going to find someone who’s going to have a conflict to start with and certainly I think you want to take the time and one the reason why no to do it is you want to be able to have the time to talk to people so do you create that chemistry that’s really required creating a winning environment."
Ross is essentially ruling out any "A-list" coach to come to Miami. The biggest names want control, and top candidates will not come to Miami to take orders from Ireland. Former Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher might be the exception. But Fisher will be a hot name for several openings.
It was well-known in NFL circles that Ireland and Sparano were not on the same page. That was especially the case in the offseason when Ross and Ireland tried to convince Jim Harbaugh to be Miami's next head coach while Sparano still was under contract.
The 2011 season was doomed from the start. With those above Sparano already searching for his replacement, the hot seat was on fire before he coached his first game. Sparano's 0-7 start eventually sealed his fate.
But is it all Sparano's fault?
"We all feel responsibility for what happened today, we all do," Ireland said Monday. "This is a game of winning and when you don't win, you feel responsible for that. I have responsibility in it. Mr. Ross has responsibility in it. Our players have responsibility.
"Ultimately, Tony had the ultimate responsibility."
Do Dolphins fans agree?