No one, and I mean no one, rags on Jeff Ireland more than I do. It’s my opinion the team isn’t any better today than it was six years ago. I’ve finally decided to look at the roster Ireland inherited, and the roster he has assembled over the last six seasons.
Let’s break down each position… looking at what resources were used and which positions (if any) Ireland has improved. The ’08 roster is based off the 53-man opening day roster… the ’13 is obviously still working itself out but is the current 53 at the time of this posting (including Tyler Clutts).
2008: Chad Pennington, Chad Henne, John Beck
2013: Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore, Pat Devlin
Resources: 2nd (’08), 2nd (’09), 1st (’12), FAs: Josh McCown, Matt Moore, Pat Devlin, Kevin O’Connell, Sage Rosenfels
Results: It’s a given… when a regime change is made, the new regime brings in their own QB. A lot of jobs depend on the play of that QB. Chad Pennington getting replaced by Brett Favre is probably the only reason Jeff Ireland still has a job in Miami. Had the Dolphins played 2008 with Josh McCown, John Beck, and Chad Henne, there’s no doubt in my mind the Dolphins would have finished below .500 and out of the playoffs (making Ireland 0 for 6 in winning seasons).
If you looked at Jeff Ireland’s tenure, judging him only by the QBs… it’s hard to say he’s been successful. In the single most important position in football, Ireland has invested three high draft picks and the position is still not where it needs to be. Players like Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, Ryan Mallett, Andrew Luck, and RGIII were available and passed over by Ireland. Instead, he went with Henne, Pat White, and a QB with less than 20 career starts. Bottom line… 3 high draft picks were spent on this position and the Dolphins still don’t have a top 15 QB… that’s a failure.
2008: Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Patrick Cobb, Jalen Parmalee, Boomer Grigsby
2013: Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas, Mike Gillislee, Marcus Thigpen, Tyler Clutts
Resourses: 6th (’08), 6th (’08), 2nd (’11), 4th (’12), 5th (’13), Trade for Reggie Bush
Results: Ireland inherited one hellova backfield. Ronnie, Ricky, and Cobb formed a solid trio. Today, we have a RB with 51 career carries… and another with 51 career concussions. Daniel Thomas, who Ireland traded up for, has the same number of fumbles as he does TDs. Reggie Bush was traded for, and five draft picks were used (more if you count the trade-up for Daniel), so resources have been spent on the RB position. The Dolphins enter ’13 hoping Miller can be a featured back… and that Daniel Thomas doesn’t pick up his 52nd concussion. Bottom line, Ireland hand-selected this group of RBs, and as a whole they are sub-par.
2008: Ted Ginn, Jr., Davone Bess, Ernest Wilford, Greg Camarillo, Derek Hagan, Brandon London
2013: Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews
Resources: 3rd (’09), 4th (’09), 2nd (’10), 2nd (’11), 4th (’11), 6th (’12), 7th (’12)
Results: Ireland has spent a TON of resources trying to find the right recieving corp. Ireland first tried to fix it by sending two 2nds to Denver for Brandon Marshall. Then he tried to fix that by sending Brandon Marshall to Chicago for two 3rds. After investing five draft picks between ’08-’11, Ireland, himself, on Hard Knocks declared the roster had no #1s, 2s or 3s… so his latest attempt to fix the WRs was to throw a bunch of money at it. Ireland (over)spent to bring in Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson, and to re-sign Brian Hartline. So after seven total draft picks, a monster contract for Marshall, and another monster contract for Wallace, would you consider Ireland’s tenure a success (in regards to WRs)? I don’t.
2008: Anthony Fasano, David Martin, Sean Ryan
2013: Charles Clay, Michael Egnew, Dion Sims
Resources: 5th (’09), 6th (’11), 3rd (’12), 5th (’13)
Result: The injury to Dustin Keller leaves the Dolphins with one of the worst group of TEs in the entire NFL. And since Ireland hand selected all three of them over the last three draft classes… big, fat fail. I wrote an entire post dedicated to Jeff’s failure to acquire TE talent… read it here.
2008: Jake Long, Justin Smiley, Samson Satele, Nate Garner, Vernon Carey, Andy Alleman, Shawn Murphy, Ike Ndukew, Donald Thomas
2013: Jonathan Martin, Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, John Jerry, Tyson Clabo, Nate Garner, Dallas Thomas, Will Yeatman, Josh Samuda
Resources: 1st (’08), 4th (’08), 6th (’08), 6th (’09), 3rd (’10), 7th (’10), 1st (’11), 2nd (’12), 3rd (’13)
Result: Six of the nine draft picks spent on offensive linemen were used before the 5th round… two 1st round picks, a 2nd, two 3rds, and a 4th. Compunded with FAs like Justin Smiley, Jake Groves, Marc Columbos, etc., etc. I don’t know if there is an area of the football team that has had more resources thrown at it than the offensive line. While the line is starting to gel, it is far from a strenght on this football team. The injury to John Jerry showed how weak of an offensive line Miami has. If John Jerry is THAT important… it’s a bad line. Of all of the resources spent on the offensive line, Mike Pouncey is the only winner. But seriously how difficult is it to select a player whose identical twin is a Pro Bowler? Do you think anybody would have drafted Jonathan Martin’s identical twin this season (if he had one)?
2008: Jason Ferguson, Vonnie Holliday, Paul Soliai, Randy Starks, Kendall Langford, Phillip Merling, Lionel Dotson, Rodrique Wright
2013: Cameron Wake, Paul Soliai, Randy Starks, Jared Odrick, Olivier Vernon, Dion Jordan, Vaughn Martin, Derrick Shelby
Resources: 2nd (’08), 3rd (’08), 7th (’08), 1st (’10), 3rd (’12), 7th (’12), 1st (’13)
Result: The defensive line continues to be the strength of this team… especially DT. The regime change in ’08 brought with it the 3-4 defense. Starks was signed as a FA to anchor the middle behind Soliai (a carryover). Three draft picks were spent on the dline that year, all of which were gone by ’12. After a failed attempt to acquire 3-4 DEs, the Dolphins are back to running a 4-3 base. Ireland invested three more high draft picks in Jared Odrick, Olivier Vernon, and Dion Jordan to fill out his dline. While Starks and Soliai make this group a strength, it’s still too early to determine if Ireland has improved the overall unit. Cameron Wake is the single greatest thing Ireland has accomplished in his tenure. I wish Ireland was as good at drafting as he was in finding undrafted FAs.
2008: Channing Crowder, Joey Porter, Matt Roth, Reggie Torbor, Akin Ayodele, Charlie Anderson, Quentin Moses
2013: Philip Wheeler, Dannell Ellerbe, Koa Misi, Jason Trusnik, Josh Kaddu, Jonathan Freeney, Jenlani Jenkins
Resources: 7th (’09), 2nd (’10), 4th (’10), 7th (’10), 7th (’10), 5th (’12), 4th (’13)
Result: Ireland prefers to get his LBs through Free Agency. While he hasn’t invested many high draft picks on the position, he has handed out several large contracts to Karlos Dansby, Kevin Burnett, Dannell Ellerbe, and Phillip Wheeler. Just like the defensive line, the LB position has been in flux as the team transitioned back-and-forth from 4-3 to 3-4, and back. The Dolphins are still looking for the right combination to defend NE’s dual TE attack. Looking at the ’08 roster Ireland inherited, it’s easy to see he has improved the position during his tenure.
2008: Will Allen, Andre Goodman, Yeremiah Bell, Renaldo Hill, Jason Allen, Chris Crocker, Tyrone Culver, Nathan Jones, Michael Lehan
2013: Brent Grimes, Nolan Carroll, Chris Clemons, Reshad Jones, Dimitri Patterson, Will Davis, Jamar Taylor, Jimmy Wilson, Kelcie McCray, Don Jones, RJ Stanford
Resources: 1st (’09), 2nd (’09), 5th (’09), 5th (’10), 5th (’10), Greg Camarillo, 7th (’11), 2nd (’13), 4th (’13), 7th (’13)
Results: When Ireland took the job, it was clear what his #1 priority was… beat Tom Brady. Ireland inherited a pretty solid group in the secondary. There wasn’t much depth, but Allen, Goodman, Hill and Bell were playing sound football. Ireland used three draft picks in ’09 on Vontae Davis, Sean Smith, and Chris Clemons to add youth and athleticism. Davis and Smith never matured into the players Ireland imagined they’d become, leaving gaping holes in the secondary last offseason. Ireland once again tried his triple-down approach in ’13 drafting Jamar Taylor, Will Davis, and Don Jones. Ireland has used seven draft picks (5th round or lower) on DBs, as well as spending FA dollars on Brent Grimes, Dimitri Patterson, and Richard Marshall. In ’13, Ireland is trying a new approach… keeping 11 DBs on the 53 instead of finding 7 or 8 good ones. It’s an interesting approach… that I don’t expect to work. So once again, looking at just this position… has Ireland been successful during his tenure? And before you answer… picture Benny Sapp chasing Wes Welker 99 yards. My answer is “no”. Full credit on finding and developing Reshad Jones though. I wouldn’t be typing this post if Ireland was able to do that more often.
2008: Dan Carpenter, Brandon Fields, John Denney
2013: Caleb Sturgis, Brandon Fields, John Denney
Resources: 5th (’13)
Result: Not much to see here… two of the three Ireland inherited are still on the team. Having only replaced Carpenter with a 5th round pick in ’13. In sticking with the rules… has Ireland improved the Special Teams in his tenure? Jury’s out… but I think Sturgis will prove to be an upgrade very shortly.
So what do you think? Did I hit the nail on the head or am I completely out of my mind? I would love to hear your thoughts.