It’s fairly easy to argue that the Dolphins have one of the more attract jobs of the team’s searching for a head coach
The look on his face said it all.
Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross walked onto the Sun Life Stadium field with microphone in hand before Sunday’s 19-17 win over the Jets and before he uttered a single word the crowd booed.
Sensing their displeasure Ross smiled nervously and gave a shoulder shrug as if to say "what did I do," then began his tribute to a retiring Jason Taylor.
Ross isn’t acclimated with being disliked, and more importantly, he’s uncomfortable with it.
Much like that teenager we all knew in high school that would do just about anything to gain acceptance from the in crowd, which happens to be the Dolphins fan base, Ross is obsessed with seeking approval.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t learned Dolfans are a fickle bunch, one which will continuously make him jump through hoops until he delivers South Florida a Super Bowl victory.
Firing Tony Sparano a month before the season had concluded gave Ross a jump start on the team’s next chapter. The Dolphins were the first team to interview candidates for the head coach vacancy on Monday.
Pursuing Jeff Fisher, the hottest of the viable coaching candidates on the market, is Ross’ way of winning the crowd because the Titans former coach is this year’s big get.
It’s uncertain if an offer was extended to Fisher, who was flown in on the company helicopter to interview and tour the facility on Tuesday, but he does fit Ross’ criteria of finding "a young Don Shula."
With San Diego and Philadelphia retaining their coaches, and Indianapolis in limbo as of Tuesday, it’s very easy to argue that Miami has the most attractive NFL job when comparing the Dolphins to Jacksonville, Kansas City, St. Louis and Tampa Bay.
If Fisher is his guy, Ross will treat this courtship like he did that of Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall, linebacker Karlos Dansby and tailback Reggie Bush, making sure he’s not outbid.
Ross, who paid an eye-opening $1.1 billion to purchase the Dolphins from Wayne Huizenga in 2008, is the new big spender in the NFL.
So if money isn’t the issue, what would it be?
No disrespect to anyone enjoying Tampa Bay or Jacksonville, but none of the other cities with NFL openings come close Miami, a destination spot.
While a coach might not care about the city he labors in, his family, and prospective free agents sure do. The weather, absence of state taxes, and the beautiful people make South Florida a desired landing spot.
The Chiefs are the one team that has a better record than the 2011 Dolphins, but Miami’s defense finished third against the rush, and sixth in points allowed, so whoever inherits that unit has some talent to work with. They’ll also get a scrappy, physical team.
"The one thing our next head coach should know he’s getting is a team that won’t quit on him. We showed that this year," linebacker Cameron Wake said, referring to the fact the Dolphins rallied back from a 0-7 start to win six of the season’s remaining nine games.
Quarterback Matt Moore lacks the pedigree of St. Louis’ Sam Bradford, the No. 1 pick in 2010, or Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman and Jacksonville’s Blaine Gabbert, who are also first-round picks. But Moore smoked all three when it comes to production on the field this season.
Moore’s 87.1 QB rating has him ranked the 12th most efficient passer in the NFL, so he’s not chopped liver.
What’s left is ownership, and the front office the next coach must work with. That’s the tricky part.
General Manager Jeff Ireland isn’t exactly the most popular man in South Florida, but his body of work in 2011 – his first season without Bill Parcells’ heavy-handed approach – was solid. And Ireland’s respected in his industry for his abilities as a talent evaluator.
Ross is one of the NFL’s youngest owners, so mistakes have been made. But the one thing that can’t be questioned is Ross’ desire to get it right, the resources he’ll put behind his projects.
This real estate mogul realizes the only way to gain the respect of Dolphins is by building a franchise that towers over the 31 other teams in the NFL.
The best way to get it done, the best way to make the crowd finally love him, is by hiring the best architect Ross can find. And the hunt for a coach, and your approval is on.
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