Tag Archives: Stephen Ross

Next Steps for the Miami Dolphins This Offseason

The Miami Dolphins have had a roller coaster of a season to say the least. Each time they have seemingly pulled away from Wild Card contention, they completely neutralized their winning streaks, and are now sitting at 8-8 with a game to go.

There is still a chance to make the playoffs, which will lie in the hands of Skylar Thompson against the New York Jets. If Miami can win (along with a Patriots loss to the Buffalo Bills), they will secure their first playoff berth since 2016.

However, it is clear that there are underlying issues within this franchise, many of which need to be solved this offseason in order to maximize the potential of the Mike McDaniel regime. Thus, here are some potential solutions to the issues the Miami Dolphins face this offseason.

Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Josh Boyer could be fired this offseason
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Doug Murray

The Josh Boyer Problem

When the Dolphins hired Mike McDaniel, they maintained a supreme confidence in their defensive coaching staff from the Flores regime. It was clear that they saw that unit as the catalyst for their back to back winning seasons, and that faith extended to defensive coordinator Josh Boyer.

That faith, however, seems to have been misplaced. With similar talent to Miami’s opportunstic units of the past, the Dolphins’ defense has fallen off a cliff. They rank 27th in points per game and are 30th in takeaways. That’s a far cry from their significant successes in those areas over the past two seasons.

Their pressure numbers have also clearly been lacking. Despite trading for Bradley Chubb, they are middle of the pack in sacks. Along with this, they have been unable to gain pressure without blitzing. With a pass rushing duo as promising as Jaelan Phillips and the aforementioned Chubb, the volume of blitzes and schemed pressures called by Josh Boyer has been dumbfounding.

The bottom line is that Miami needs a new defensive coordinator. There is simply too much talent along the defensive front to struggle the way they have. Some have suggested switching to a 4-3 scheme, which makes sense with the personnel on the roster.

Phillips and Chubb can play strictly on the edge, with Sieler and Wilkins wreaking havoc on the interior. The potential change is a more natural fit for their skill sets, and would limit mismatches in crucial situations.

Either way, it’s clear that it’s time to make a change on the defense. Moving on from the final Flores holdover may be that step.

The Quarterback Conundrum

The end of the season has been catastrophic, regardless of playoff success, and the simple fact is that the quarterback play has not been up to par over the last month or so.

Following a five game winning streak where Miami didn’t play a single top ten defense, the Dolphins faced a tough December. It’s safe to say that the team, and specifically the quarterback, didn’t make the most of it.

Dolphins’ fans biggest fears were realized as, against Miami’s toughest stretch of opponents, Tua Tagovailoa absolutely collapsed. He threw less than 60% completions against the 49ers, Chargers, and Bills, as Miami lost all three. Then, in a Christmas day game against the Packers, Tagovailoa threw an interception on each of the offense’s three fourth quarter drives. It was later discovered that he suffered a concussion prior to those interceptions, but that only adds onto the concern over the “injury prone” label.

Miami is now playing their final games of the season with backup quarterbacks. Although they spent significant capital on Teddy Bridgewater, it’s clear that it hasn’t panned out. He has been unable to win any games to this point, and has been injured himself at times this season. With Tagovailoa bound to miss significant time, it’s important to secure a high level backup, and Bridgewater hasn’t been that.

The Quarterback Solution in the Miami Dolphins 2023 Offseason

This leaves two potential solutions, one of which is much more aggressive than the other. The first is to draft a young quarterback to back up Tua Tagovailoa. It’s clear that pursuing backups such as Jacoby Brissett and Bridgewater hasn’t worked. Thus, a rookie would not only potentially be more effective, but cheaper with a higher ceiling. This quarterback class has some depth, and Miami could bring in a young backup to excel in ways Bridgewater has failed.

The second path is far more controversial.

There are several starter-level quarterbacks rumored to be moved this offseason. Tom Brady and Derek Carr are expected to be free agents, while there are rumors of Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson being on the move as well.

It’s undeniable that Tua has improved this season. Miami’s offense sat atop the league for significant stretches with him at the helm. However, when you combine the injury history and consistent drop off against high-level opponents, it’s not a stretch to say that it may be in the Miami Dolphins’ best interest to be aggressive this offseason.

The Dolphins are likely squandering away the first year of a three-year Super Bowl window. Talents like Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle don’t come around often, and outside of a historic comeback, their first year will have all been for not.

Miami must ensure that the next two years are different, and without a first round pick, they can’t secure a top flight quarterback prospect. Despite this, there are options available who provide a ceiling and consistency that Tagovailoa lacks. Miami has the chance to go from good to great, and Stephen Ross is tired of watching his years of spending be unfulfilling.

Photo Creit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Chris Grier Dilemma

The last of the potential moves would be the biggest, and it involves general manager Chris Grier.

Grier has been with the organization dating back to 2000, even predating owner Stephen Ross. He has continued to rise up the organization, becoming Ross’ right hand man and general manager in 2016.

Despite his rise, however, the Dolphins haven’t won a single playoff game in the last twenty years. The team seemingly finds themselves in the same position year-in and year-out, and Grier remains a constant. It was his recent work, however, that may be the final straw.

When the Miami Dolphins decided to go for a full rebuild in 2019, they positioned themselves for a crucial 2020 offseason. They held five picks in the first two rounds of that draft, including three firsts. Their haul? Tua Tagovailoa, Austin Jackson, Noah Igbinoghene, Robert Hunt, and Raekwon Davis.

The 2020 Blunder

The last two have been solid, with Hunt proving this season that he can be a cornerstone of Miami’s line. However, it’s the first round picks, Tua, Jackson, and Igbinoghene where the missteps are clear.

While the verdict on Tagovailoa is unclear, the same can’t be said about Justin Herbert. Taken only one pick later, Herbert has vastly outperformed his 2020 colleague. The last pillar of the Tua-Herbert debate was the idea that Herbert couldn’t win big games. That has now fallen with Herbert’s Chargers clinching a playoff spot and Miami on the outside looking in yet again.

Jackson and Igbinoghene are a similar story. Both have underperformed to their draft slot, with the latter struggling to see the field at all. While Jackson has started, his production has lacked, and this year he has been unable to stay healthy.

Thus, in arguably the most important draft in franchise history, Miami selected the following:

The wrong quarterback, a below average right tackle, a cornerback who doesn’t see the field, an above average right guard, and a starting caliber nose tackle.

This simply isn’t going to cut it for Grier, who is now seeing the successes of talents of like Justin Herbert, Justin Jefferson, and Jonathan Taylor (all of which were available with Miami’s respective first round picks).

It’s not unheard of for a team to keep a coach and hire a new general manager. That may very well be the path if Ross decides to move on from Grier.

The Bottom Line on the Miami Dolphins Offseason

No matter what Ross ends up doing, it’s clear that a change needs to be made. Miami can ill afford to squander the Super Bowl potential of the high-end talent on this roster. Tyreek Hill may very well be the best Dolphin since Dan Marino, and his presence must be capitalized on.

It likely won’t be as drastic as firing a general manager, but there are reasonable changes to make. Time after time, Stephen Ross has seen his teams come up short and December and January. He holds the power to ensure that this time is the last and that the Miami Dolphins’ Super Bowl hopes are realized. That starts with this offseason.

Credit: Dolphin Nation

How Tampering Penalty Could Affect Dolphins QB Plans in 2023

Photo Credit: Dolphin Nation

The NFL announced on Thursday that the Miami Dolphins were being stripped of their 2023 first-round pick as well as their 2024 third-round pick. Additionally, Owner Stephen Ross was suspended — kind of — for the first six weeks of the season and fined $1.5 million. All of this comes after Ross and the Dolphins were found to have illegally tampered. Ross attempted to lure Tom Brady away from Tampa Bay and Sean Payton from New Orleans while they were under contract. Miami still owns San Francisco’s first-round pick in 2023; however, the loss of those picks has the potential to be a more devastating loss than we think. Hint: Like everything else, it involves Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins QB plans in 2023. 

The Potential Damage

Everyone seems to agree that this is Tua’s last chance to prove he can be a starter; at least in Miami. He has to show that he improved on his weaknesses and has the “it” factor. Specifically, he needs to prove he can be a quarterback who wins late-season games and make throws that he’s struggled to make in the past. His leash is short. 

When Miami committed to Tagovailoa in the spring, Miami’s long-term plan seemed fairly clear. If Tagovailoa progresses like they expect him to, they have found their franchise quarterback. If he doesn’t, then the Dolphins have the fire-power to trade-up for a top-tier QB in the draft.

Ohio State QB CJ Stroud and Alabama QB Bryce Young are expected to enter the 2023 draft. Miami would likely have a great interest in both quarterbacks. The power of having two first-round picks was immeasurable in this QB class. Unfortunately, after yet another embarrassing blunder of the Stephen Ross era, that plan has probably gone out the window. 

Ross’ mistake has cost the Dolphins a significant draft pick regardless of whether it’s used on a quarterback. Hopefully Tagovailoa proves he can be the Dolphins QB in 2023, and the potential long-term impact of losing the first-round pick is minimized. 

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Jim Harbaugh is the Darkhorse in the Miami Dolphins’ HC search.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh could be a dark-horse candidate for the Miami Dolphins job
Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Following the New York Giants hiring of Brian Daboll, the Miami Dolphins have seemingly moved down to two head coach candidates: Mike McDaniel and Kellen Moore. Next week, the two will interview when the Dolphins hope to make their final decision. However, a new candidate has entered the arena, and he may be of interest to the Miami Dolphins: Jim Harbaugh.

University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has reportedly scheduled an interview with the Minnesota Vikings.

This comes as a shock, as many suspected he would stay at Michigan, as opposed to returning to the NFL. However, his professional success has been significant, so the possibility of him returning to coaching can’t be ruled out.

Jim Harbaugh’s background makes him a top HC candidate for anyone.

Before leaving for Michigan in 2015, potential Miami Dolphins head coaching candidate Jim Harbaugh was among the most successful coaches in the NFL. In four years with the San Francisco 49ers, he led them to a 44-19-1 record, including a Super Bowl appearance in 2012.

His defenses never ranked below 10th in points and finished third or better in three of his four seasons. Better yet, behind coordinator Vic Fangio, they were able to grab 16 interceptions in their Super Bowl season.

Harbaugh’s success is significant with San Francisco.

Following a mediocre fourth season in San Francisco, Harbaugh decided it was time for a change. So in the 2015 offseason, he agreed to a seven-year contract worth over 40 million dollars with the Michigan Wolverines. This marked a return to college, where he coached at Stanford for four years before taking the 49ers job.

Jim Harbaugh and his relationship with the Miami Dolphins owner.

At the University of Michigan, where Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is a significant donor, is where the two initially met. Ross has had the opportunity to see Harbaugh’s work firsthand and, as a result, holds him in high regard.

Even before his Michigan hiring, the Dolphins owner coveted Harbaugh, even flying out to interview him with Tony Sparano still at the helm in 2011. It was with this connection, however, that fans and media alike had found more speculatory material.

Ross apologizes for Harbaugh interview.

Ross had stated in his interview after firing Brian Flores that he’s “not going to be the person” to take Harbaugh from Michigan, but if he were planning to transition back to the NFL anyway, then he wouldn’t have to pull him away.

The Jim Harbaugh rumors are heating up.

Now that Harbaugh has interviewed with the Vikings, he’s shown that he’s willing to look into an NFL job. Thus, he now officially opens up the idea to be interviewed by other teams, including Miami.

His Michigan staff has also seen departures recently. Defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald left for the Ravens two days ago among those.

It’s under these circumstances that Harbaugh could reasonably justify a return to the league he found substantial success.

Ross also could justify hiring Harbaugh, which would help Miami without “taking” the coach from his alma mater.

While it seems like a conspiracy, it may make some sense for Miami. On top of being offensive-minded, Harbaugh also has the experience as a head coach that Miami covets. Three of their seven interviews were former head coaches, although all three were on defense.

Miami has hired several first time coaches since Wannstedt.

However, Miami’s finalists are both offensive coordinators. Harbaugh brings the opportunity to give the best of both worlds, something the other candidates cannot.

The aforementioned Vic Fangio is available after being fired by Denver, and a reunion is possible if he decides to come back. Additionally, it’s rumored that Harbaugh would bring back some of the coaches he had before his departure, looking to rekindle the fire of past successes.

What’s the endgame for Jim Harbaugh and the Miami Dolphins?

Miami will likely hire one of Kellen Moore or Mike McDaniel next week, but that doesn’t mean Harbaugh is out of the picture. He has a clear connection to owner Stephen Ross and can bring back assistants of the past.

With Miami’s vacancy, this potential move makes too much sense. Moreover, the coach who has caught the owner’s eye for over a decade may be available. So it only seems reasonable that he would at least do his due diligence.

Stephen Ross holds the most power in this scenario, and his desire for success at 81 years old has never been stronger. He may want to take a big swing at the end of his Dolphins tenure.