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Cohen: Ross Trying To Give This Franchise Stability

Posted Jan 7, 2013

The one common ingredient that links all successful teams is something that the Dolphins owner recognizes and strives for.



It’s all about stability.

This, more than anything else, is what the Miami Dolphins have been lacking for far too long.

Until now.

There is now a real sense of commitment within this organization to maintain a sense of stability from the top on down. It starts with owner Stephen Ross, who emphasized this point at a press conference Monday, and it continues with General Manager Jeff Ireland, Coach Joe Philbin and quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Look around the NFL. Evaluate the top franchises. Check out which ones are playoff-caliber just about every season. They all have one thing in common.

Stability.

A head coach solidly entrenched. A quarterback with long-term potential. A general manager with the confidence to make bold moves. An owner secure enough to let all of those people do their jobs. It’s an easy formula when it works. It can be a nightmare when it falls apart.

“When you change all the time, you don’t know where you stand,” Ross said. “You have to have a plan to be consistent and it is important that the right mix is part of that plan. Once you have the key people in place, it’s so much easier to build around them.”

A lack of stability has been my biggest complaint with this franchise since Don Shula retired. Coaches have come and gone. General Managers have done the same. Systems have changed; terminology has given way to new terminology. With all this change, the playbook should have been written in pencil.

But now things seem to be different. Joe Philbin impressed a lot of people in his first season as a head coach. Jeff Ireland has the unyielding endorsement of Ross. Tannehill is coming off a rookie season that only increased our appetite to see more.

Give Ross credit for seeing the light. He admitted he wanted to sit back and learn before making any drastic moves. So he waited and watched. And once it became clear to him that some changes were in order, he was determined to make the right moves, to do everything in his power to help provide this franchise with a real sense of stability. Yes, there’s that word again.

Ross will be the first to tell you that he was disappointed in a 7-9 record. But he will also remind you to look beyond that, to evaluate whether many of the important pieces are in place and whether his organization now has a plan that is well thought out and makes winning sense.

Yes, there is a plan now firmly in place. And Ross, once a kid sitting in the Orange Bowl stands dreaming of big things, believes it is the right plan with the right people.

He talks of Philbin with unyielding admiration. “He is everything I hoped he would be,” Ross said. “We can safely say we have a solid head coach, hopefully here for a long time.”

Stability.

He talks of Ireland with equal admiration, knowing all too well that general manager is a job where mistakes are part of the business and where the credit usually goes somewhere else for the moves that pan out. “Very intelligent,” Ross said of Ireland. “A hard worker. An excellent football mind. I like dealing with young and enthusiastic people.”

Stability.

And finally, while he refuses to endorse Tannehill as the definite future of this team, he talks about him with realistic hope and the knowledge that he liked much of what he saw in his rookie season. “You get a good feeling when you talk to Ryan,” Ross said. “You see how committed he is. You see how much he wants to be here.”

There is still much work to be done and Ross will be the first to tell you that. The Dolphins have five draft picks in the first three rounds and enough money to make a serious move in free agency.

“If the right players are there,” Ross said. “I don’t care what it costs.”

But this is a bottom line business and stability is only the first step, though an important one. Ross doesn’t want to be sitting here a year from now talking about another losing season and he is admittedly tired of being an outsider come playoff time.

His impatience, though, is tempered by the fact that the Dolphins, his Dolphins, now seem to have their house in order, their inner workings solidified.

For a moment, Ross paused and took a deep breath.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” he said. “I’m more confident of that than ever.”