Jeff Ireland got the contract extension. But will he ever get some respect? He earned the blessing of team owner Steve Ross at some point this summer, according to a Dolphins source.
But hasn't he earned some from Joe Fan, too?
If you want to hold tight to the view of Ireland in those first few years with Bill Parcells and Tony Sparano, if you want to replay those failed seasons and personnel moves, there's no discussing this contract extension as a good thing. Your mind is made up and closed tight.
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But if you want to take Ireland's work these past two years, if you want to see how he drafted a quarterback on the edge of special and good free agents in the prime of careers, you see why this move is good news for Ireland and the Dolphins alike.
The best franchises in sports have smarts and stability at the top. That's something the Dolphins haven't had over this last, lost decade. Forget all the coaches. They've had six different people with six different plans building the roster over the last decade.
That means they had six ways of dismantling the previous regime's plan to instill their own, too. Look at Cleveland today. One regime wanted a big running back like Trent Richardson and so drafted him third overall. The new regime entered this year without the need for a big running back and so traded him for another draft pick.
That's the revolving story of the Dolphins' last 10 years. Follow this six-degrees of ineptitude: Dave Wannstedt and Rick Spielman signed Wes Welker. Nick Saban developed him. Randy Mueller decided he didn't fit his ideas and traded him for a second-round pick that became center Samson Satele.
Parcells/Sparano/ Ireland decided Satele wasn't big enough for their system. Jake Grove was signed for $14 million. He flopped. Mike Pouncey was drafted 15th overall, the highest ever for a center.
This is why continuity matters. Ross now has his team not just in place but seemingly entrenched for the long haul. Ireland is his personnel guy. Dawn Aponte handles contracts. Joe Philbin is the coach. That's the team.
The reservation with Ireland getting an extension isn't the deal itself. It's the timing of it coming out. Two Dolphins' insiders insist this contract was signed months ago and kept private for some odd reason. It has nothing to do with a 3-0 start, they said.
Let's hope they're right.Because September success isn't the time to be handing out bouquets and contract extensions in the manner this looks on first blush. It's not the time to pause and enjoy the scenery.
The fun of this moment can disappear the next couple of weeks at New Orleans and against Baltimore. All this feel-good can be replaced by questions of players, of tactics and certainly from a large number of Dolphins fans of Ireland's draft picks.
Ireland's mission was pretty simple in the last couple of years: Turn it around. Or else. His challenge of the past couple of years was to build build a roster for today and tomorrow.
The big free-agent money he spent wasn't for players in the final turn over their careers. Receiver Mike Wallace is 27 and Brandon Gibson is 26. Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe is 28 and Phillip Wheeler 29.
These are players you can build around for a few years, not just a few months. Maybe Ireland's best move this off-season, the one he became an expert on Achilles' injuries involved, was signing Brent Grimes to a one-year deal. But Grimes has to stay healthy for it to work completely.
You want to see more. You need to see better drafts. You need to know Dion Jordan is worthy of a third-overall pick and cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis can stay healthy and get on the field.
This isn't a finished product. The 3-0 start can go away quickly. But you can see the makings of a team for the first time in a long time. Stability is a needed component to building. That's what Ireland's extension gives most of all.